“Alternatives to Drugs for Treating Pain” was published by the New York Times on 9-11-17, and is written by the highly regarded health journalist Jane Brody. She reports on her own problems with chronic pain, and behavioral changes that she learned on her own which helped her significantly. She goes on to report on concerns about treatment with opioids and emerging research that is finding “complementary” treatments, many of them actually psychological treatments, to be helpful, sometimes even more effective than opioids.

Ms. Brody discusses current thinking about the meaning of pain “signals,” and the possibility that many people with chronic pain may benefit from learning to accept that their “signals” may be ignored  – which may require considerable mental effort and potentially help and support from a healthcare professional. Also, she summarizes recent research which finds that CBT, mindfulness- based stress reduction, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi and relaxation techniques have been found to be beneficial for some versions of chronic pain, and some are even found to be more effective for specific conditions.

Interestingly, one study found that mindfulness-based interventions “proved more cost-effective than both CBT and usual care reducing both healthcare costs and lost productivity.”

MHConcierge’s take: this article is a helpful and concise summary of the current thinking about pain management resources and, in particular, treatments other than opioids. It is user-friendly and could be a resource for patients considering treatment options for chronic pain.

It is available for free online.

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