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Complementary And Alternative Medical Therapy Combined With Conventional Medical Care May Significantly Improve Treatment Of Lower Back Pain

April 24, 2012

Nearly 8 of 10 Americans will experience lower back pain at some time in their lives. Persistent low back pain is a common, incapacitating, costly, and difficult to treat condition. Many patients might benefit significantly from an individualized, multidisciplinary, team-based model of care that includes access to licensed complementary care practitioners (e.g., chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists) in addition to conventional care providers, as demonstrated in a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article, “A Model of Integrative Care for Low-Back Pain,” is available free online at The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine website.

David M. Eisenberg, MD, and colleagues from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women´s Hospital (Boston, MA), Group Health Research Institute (Seattle, WA), and Brown University (Providence, RI), compared conventional therapy alone–defined as “usual care”–to the combination of an integrated program of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies plus usual care. They report significant differences between the two randomized patient groups in outcomes which included pain, functional status, and difficulty performing routine, self-identified challenging activities.

CAM therapies were provided by a trained team of healthcare practitioners and included acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, mind-body techniques, and nutritional counseling. Usual care consisted of treatments provided by subjects´ primary care physicians and typically included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), physical therapy and bed rest as needed, education, and changes in activity levels.

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