The Use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Pain Management

“Treatment of both acute & chronic pain involves a combination of pharmacologic & provider-based interventions, which is effective for some patients but not for others. The use of repeated frequent usage involves the risk of adverse reactions, overuse, & dependency. Complementary & alternative therapies (CAT) offer an alternative or adjunctive method to decrease the pain experience & enhance function & quality of life. Various evidence-based methods have been proved to be effective in the management of acute & chronic pain” [1]

So to that end, the smart advice is to immediately book an appointment with a Pain Specialist who will give you an accurate diagnosis, & then devise a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan that includes both Conventional, & Complementary & Alternative Therapies Treatments

An Overview

Complementary therapies can substantially help patients who are experiencing pain, and not getting the necessary relief they need from conventional methods. CAT can help divert sufferers’ attention away from their pain, allow them to relax more, and release any associated muscle tension. Such therapies which are administered and recommended by a Pain Doctor, can: “work by releasing natural opioids within the body that can enhance the effects of pain medicine and medical therapies” [2].

Some of the Most Popular Complementary & Alternative Therapies

The most in-demand CAT therapies include:

• Biofeedback: this involves the Pain doctor or their medical assistant using monitoring devices to help patients learn how to consciously control certain body functions (e.g., their muscle tension, sweating, temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate)

• TENS: also known as trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation; involves electrodes and wires attached to a small battery-powered device, being placed on the skin on either side of the area where the patient experiences pain. The electrodes are designed to transmit electrical impulses to the nerves. Popular for being a non-invasive treatment, this action interrupts pain signals which are transmitted the brain. In addition to this, research indicates that this mode of therapy is effective due to its ability to boost the release of endorphins (our body’s natural painkillers). A Pain Consultant would normally ask their medical assistant to use a TENS device on patients in order to ameliorate their muscular aches or pains, or nerve pain [2].


[1]. Hamlin AS, Robertson TM. Pain and Complementary Therapies. Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2017 Dec;29(4):449-460. As cited by PubMed. and alternative therapies (CAT,both acute and chronic pain.

[2]. Canadian Cancer Society (2023). “Complementary therapies for pain.”,pain%20medicine%20and%20medical%20therapies.