Chronic Pain Study: Guess Which Alternative Therapy Is Most Popular?

Chronic Pain Study: Guess Which Alternative Therapy Is Most Popular?
Chronic Pain Study: Guess Which Alternative Therapy Is Most Popular?

Chronic pain affects 116 million Americans and, unfortunately, finding the remedy to this pain is not always simple. Just ask any of the millions who take the traditional pain medications and still can’t shake their aches. For that reason, many people turn to alternative medicine, although these helpful methods are not accessible to everyone.

In a recent study, researchers looked at nearly 6,000 patients of various backgrounds who suffer from chronic pain. Overall, they found that 35 percent of these patients turned to alternative therapy to help cope with their pain. A full 25 percent underwent manipulation therapy, such as chiropractic work. To a lesser extent, 13 percent attended relaxation training, while 8.3 percent tried acupuncture.

The study found that people who used alternative medicines were on average younger and more highly educated. Most often, they had tried traditional pain-relief methods and were unhappy with the results before turning to the less conventional therapies.

The most alarming finding is that a large portion of the chronic pain patients were interesting in pursuing alternative medicine, but were unable to do so. As many insurance plans do not cover nontraditional therapies, the less affluent patients could not afford to try these other methods. The researchers advocate finding ways to make pain-relieving therapies such as chiropractic work and acupuncture more accessible to people of all socio-economic backgrounds.



  • I’ve found that a new product called a SNUGG is wonderful for my chronic pain. While not exactly “alternative” because it’s so simple, it uses a combination of hot or cold plus compression to take away all kinds of chronic pain. My friend who has fibromyalgia loves hers and uses it every day. I suffer from sciatica as a result of being an airline pilot and sitting on very hard cockpit chairs for long flights through turbulence.

    I’ve had friends with everything from a simple sinus infection to arthritis pain get relief from their Snuggs. You can find them here…

  • I have tried many alternative approaches to pain management, in addition to traditional pain medication. Among the most helpful have been yoga, acupuncture, massage (especially shiatsu) and chiropractic. My insurance covers 12 chiro visits a year and I pay for everything else. I feel lucky that I can afford acupuncture twice a month. If my insurance would pay for it instead, and cover massage, I believe I could be pain free, since I would be able to get treatment weekly. I believe that if I could get weekly treatment in the form of acupunture and massage, I would never need the opiates to manage my pain. It would also allow me to be more active, in turn managing other aspects of my life in a healthier way (ie pain control + more activity = weight loss). What a great life that would be.

  • The term alternative therapy, in general, is used to describe any medical treatment or intervention that has not been sufficiently scientifically documented or identified as safe and effective for a specific condition. Alternative therapy encompasses a variety of disciplines including acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic treatment, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage and many others.

  • @claymathew In regards to chiropractic, there is a wealth of literature published in the national library of medicine supporting the efficacy of spinal manipulative therapy for numerous conditions.

  • @foundpainrelief

    Sounds like a sales pitch to me. Cockpit chairs aren’t hard at all. “Pilot” recommendation to make your product sound legit?

  • You need to educate yourself! Try these alternative systems and see for yourself that they are valid and actually work. It amazes me how many people decry alternatives who have not tried them. In particular, regular treatments of chiropractic and acupuncture have made my life, at 67, way more energetic and pain free than traditional “take a pill” advice.

    Your mind is like a parachute; it only works if it is open. Take a hint!@claymathew

  • @rft

    I’m an airline pilot for a Delta subsidiary. I’m a Captain and fly a regional jet, the CRJ-200. The cockpit seats on the CRJ and my previous plane, the SF-34, are hard. Sciatic pain and lower back pain are not uncommon among airline pilots, who sit for extended periods of time.

    Cockpit chairs in GA (general aviation) airplanes like a Piper, Cessna or Cirrus are much more comfortable, like a car.

    I hope this helps.

  • Is there any noticeable difference in terms of lower back support between seats? In general, regardless the type of seat, there is insufficient support of the lower back sagittal curve. As the curve is unsupported and gravity works upon it, the curve is lost placing stress on areas that aren’t designed to handle it. In my experience, customizing a seat to be more specific to an individuals spine provides the best long term solution. @foundpainrelief

  • Hi. I checked out that Therm-a-rest at the link provided. In my opinion, although this may help soften the hard seat you’re required to sit on, it may not be enough to support your lumbar curve. So, I did a quick Google search for back supports and found a link with a picture for you…

    As you can see, this type of support places force into the lumbar spine and helps keep it from reversing while sitting reducing the gravitational strain. There are a ton of these type of supports and you can get them just about anywhere. I’ve even seen them at Walgreens for <$5. Point being, you’ve got nothing to lose. I’d try one of these and see how your spine likes it. Best wishes! Dave

  • @AllStarChiro Hi Dave,

    Thanks! Very kind of you. I’m sure it would help too. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s very practical. The therm-a-rest is full collapseable and easy to store in my luggage. It works fairly well. I try to stretch as much as possible and work those muscles in my “seat” too.

    The Snugg works pretty well too when I’m at home. Thanks again Dave!

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