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Volume 44 Number 2 2007
Pages 195 — 222


Abstract - Efficacy of selected complementary and alternative medicine interventions for chronic pain

Gabriel Tan, PhD, ABPP;1-2* Michael H. Craine, PhD;3-4 Matthew J. Bair, MD, MS;5 M. Kay Garcia, DrPH, MSN, RN, LAc;6-7 James Giordano, PhD;8-9 Mark P. Jensen, PhD;10 Shelley M. McDonald, MD;5 David Patterson, PhD, ABPP;10 Richard A. Sherman, PhD;11 Wright Williams, PhD;12-13 Jennie C. I. Tsao, PhD14

1Anesthesiology Care Line, Department of Anesthesiology, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center (VAMC), Houston, TX; 2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; 3Health Psychology, Patient Focused Care Service, Denver VAMC/VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Denver, CO; 4Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO; 5Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice, Richard L. Roudebush VAMC, Indianapolis, IN; 6Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; 7American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Houston, TX; 8Center for Clinical Bioethics and Division of Palliative Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC; 9Samueli Institute, Alexandria, VA; 10Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA; 11Behavioral Medicine Research and Training Foundation, Port Angeles, WA; 12Mental Health Care Line, Michael E. DeBakey VAMC, Houston, TX; 13Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; 14University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Pediatric Pain Program, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

Abstract — Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and healthcare systems, therapies, and products that are not presently considered part of conventional medicine. This article provides an up-to-date review of the efficacy of selected CAM modalities in the management of chronic pain. Findings are presented according to the classification system developed by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (formerly Office of Alternative Medicine) and are grouped into four domains: biologically based medicine, energy medicine, manipulative and body-based medicine, and mind-body medicine. Homeopathy and acupuncture are discussed separately as "whole or professionalized CAM practices." Based on the guidelines of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, findings indicate that some CAM modalities have a solid track record of efficacy, whereas others are promising but require additional research. The article concludes with recommendations to pain practitioners.

Key words: biologically based medicine, chronic pain, complementary and alternative medicine, efficacy, energy medicine, manipulative and body-based medicine, mind-body medicine, pain management, rehabilitation, whole or professionalized CAM practices.


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