Complementary health approaches frequently used for musculoskeletal pain disorders

About 40% of individuals with a musculoskeletal pain disorder use a complementary health approach such as chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, massage, or yoga.
About 40% of individuals with a musculoskeletal pain disorder use a complementary health approach such as chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, massage, or yoga.

More than half of adults in the United States have a musculoskeletal pain disorder, and the use of complementary health approaches is significantly higher among these individuals compared with those without a musculoskeletal pain disorder, according to data published in the CDC's National Health Statistics Reports.

Tainya C. Clarke, MPH, PhD, and colleagues from the National Center for Health Statistics examined the use of complementary health approaches in adults older than age 18 with a musculoskeletal pain disorder, compared with the use of complementary health approaches among individuals without a musculoskeletal pain disorder.

 

“Complementary approaches are increasingly being integrated into conventional treatment plans for some health conditions,” the study authors wrote. “More than 50% of medical schools offer some instruction in complementary health approaches, and a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that several of these approaches, including chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, massage, and yoga, may help to manage some painful conditions.”

The researchers used data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, which included estimates of the use of complementary health approaches for any reason and estimates of the use of complementary approaches to specifically treat musculoskeletal pain. Musculoskeletal pain disorders that were included in the survey were lower back pain, sciatica, neck pain, joint pain or related conditions, and arthritic conditions.

The survey showed that 54.5% of adults in the United States had a musculoskeletal pain disorder in 2012. The investigators also found that 41.6% of individuals with a musculoskeletal pain disorder used a complementary health approach, compared with 24.1% of individuals without a musculoskeletal pain disorder.

Among those with a musculoskeletal pain disorder, 24.7% reported using a natural product, 15.3% used a mind and body approach, 18.2% used practitioner-based approaches, and 5.3% used whole medical system approaches. Among individuals without a musculoskeletal pain disorder, 13.4% reported using a natural product and 6.9% used practitioner-based approaches.

“The high level of use of practitioner-based approaches identified in this report adds to previous research that has shown that some U.S. adults use complementary health approaches for treatment despite a lack of health insurance coverage for their complementary health practitioner visits,” the authors noted.

Reference

  1. Clarke T, Nahin RL, Barnes PM, Stussman BJ. Use of complementary health approaches for musculoskeletal pain disorders among adults: United States, 2012. National Health Statistics Reports. October 12, 2016.
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