Pain Relief Doesn't Always Have to Come in a Pill, Study Finds

Study looked at alternative approaches to managing pain.

The researchers found that acupuncture and yoga appeared to be a beneficial alternative treatments for back pain. For patients dealing with neck pain, studies found that massage therapy was helpful.

People dealing with severe headaches or migraines responded well to relaxation techniques as a way to keep their heads from pounding.

But, there was one instance of alternate therapy the researchers found was not effective for pain relief, after researching multiple trials: the supplement called glucosamine used for osteoarthritis.

Nahin said the goal is to help both patients and health providers consider other options for pain relief besides prescription medications that come with sometimes significant side effects. These tools are not being considered as a full replacement for current methods of pain relief, but a way to supplement current medications.

Dr. Neil Jolly, an anesthesiologist and interventional pain physician and Partner at Louisiana Pain Specialists, added that the study has provided more evidence that alternate therapies should be considered along with traditional medications.

"This article should further increase physician awareness on treating our pain patients with a multi-[prong] approach," said Jolly.

New regulations recently enacted in light of the potentially dangerous side effects of some pain medications, have limited what physicians can prescribe for their patients, he added. The approach in his practice, he said, is to immediately lower the patients' medication dosage once their pain has decreased -- and also look to alternative therapies.