ANN ARBOR, Mich. In a University of Michigan Health System study, 1 out of 3 patients with chronic pain reported using complementary and alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic visits for pain relief.
Socioeconomic factors primarily race and age played a large role in the use of alternative therapy in chronic pain patients, the study showed. Whites used alternative modalities more frequently than blacks and elderly adults had a higher frequency of using alternative therapies than younger adults.
According to the lead author, Carmen R. Green, M.D., U-M professor of anesthesiology and obstetrics and gynecology and associate professor of health management and policy, this pattern may be due to alternative medicine therapies usually attracting individuals with higher education levels and income, or the pattern could be a result of differences in insurance coverage.
Also, as people age, there is a greater chance that they will deal with chronic pain, therefore as age increases, so does the likelihood that people will seek alternative therapies to deal with the pain.
The study which appears in the journal, Pain Medicine, highlights the importance of complementary and alternative medicine, its increasing usage, its economic impact, and concerns about safety and effectiveness.
To track the link between pain and alternative medicine, Green and S. Khady Ndao-Brumblay, PharmD, MSc, doctoral student in health management and policy at the U-M School of Public Health, looked at the ethnic and racial disparities in treating chronic pain in 5,750 adults over a six-year period.
Socioeconomic characteristics, medical history, physical and social health characteristics and pain-related symptoms in both black and white adults with chronic pain were collected with the Pain Assessment Inventory Narrative to assess the treatment methods.
The types of practitioner-based alternative ther
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University of Michigan Health System