Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for Chronic Pain

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Prescription pain pills may do more harm than good- that’s why more people suffering from pain are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for optimal health while managing migraines, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Alternative medicine nurtures the body as a whole; used properly, many herbs and vitamins , combined with relaxation and gentle yoga, offer many migraine sufferers healthful results.


What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is any condition that causes long periods of painful suffering, for months or years, in the absence of any kind of visible treatable injury.  Chronic pain conditions such as migraine headaches and back pain interfere with your quality of life, making it difficult to sleep well, perform your job duties, drive a car, or take care of your own basic needs.

Some common chronic pain disorders are:

  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Lower back pain
  • Endometriosis
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
  • Vulvodynia (chronic vulvar pain)

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Natural ingredients

In using herbs and vitamins to improve your health while managing chronic pain, it’s important to remember that even natural ingredients must be used responsibly with the advice of a medical practitioner.  “Natural” doesn’t always equal safe for everybody.  Certain vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin E can become toxic if taken in excess quantities. Using a natural migraine ingredient as a blood thinner may benefit migraine patients, but only under a doctor’s supervision.

Natural ingredients used for chronic pain include:

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Butterbur root
  • Topical capsaicin cream
  • Chondroitin
  • Fish oil
  • Glucosamine


Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern medical practice that involves inserting thin needles into the body in order to treat chronic pain.  Western medicine is much more open to the notion of using Chinese acupuncture than ever before- what used to be considered an alien, almost exotic branch of medicine is now mainstream.  Acupuncture doesn’t guarantee immediate results, but with continued practice, many people suffering from anxiety, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, and numerous other ailments have found significant relief through acupuncture.

“Acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving opioids, sends signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, and releases neurochemicals and hormones.”  –

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Chiropractic manipulation

Chiropractic care relieves chronic pain by adjusting your spine or other parts of your body back to its correct alignment.

  • Spinal manipulation involves forcefully manipulating a certain joint outside of its usual range of movement as a means of providing chronic pain relief and healing an injury.  Spinal manipulation is used by chiropractors and massage therapists.
  • Osteopathic Manipulation, practiced by osteopathic physicians, restores bodily function and relieves chronic pain by combining Osteopathic Manipulative Technique (OMT) healing with proper posture training and osteopathic philosophy.


Exercising might be the last thing on your mind if you suffer from chronic pain, but numerous studies prove that incorporating even small amounts of gentle stretching or light walking into your daily life contributes to chronic pain relief, decreased stress, and improved cardiovascular health.

Some recommended exercises for chronic pain include:

  • Walking
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi

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Learning how to relax in any situation is instrumental in dealing with chronic pain, reducing stress, and maintaining a sense of wellbeing.

Popular relaxation techniques include:

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Guided imagery
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Music therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Please tell us…

Are you an ex-chronic pain sufferer who has found relieve using CAM?  Please share your experience! We welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions.

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