Most chronic pain patients don’t tell their doctors about their alternative therapies

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Most chronic pain patients don’t tell their doctors about their alternative therapies

More than half of chronic pain patients don’t discuss their alternative use of chiropractic care or acupuncture, or both with their primary care physician; as the study suggest that better coordination with the physician is need , published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

More than 6,000 patients in Oregon and Washington were members of Kaiser Permanente from 2009-2011 showed three or more outpatient visits for chronic pain inside of year and a half. They found that 58% of these patients had used chiropractic care or acupuncture or both. Although majority of patients shared information about these alternative therapies with their physicians, however most of them didn’t talk to their providers about this care.

"Our study confirms that most of our patients with chronic pain are seeking complementary treatments to supplement the care we provide in the primary care setting," said Charles Elder, MD, MPH, lead author of the study and affiliate investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. "The problem is that too often, doctors don't ask about this treatment, and patients don't volunteer the information".

According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, around 100 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain that costs nearly $600 each year.

Dr. Elder, who is also the physician lead for Kaiser Permanente's complementary and alternative medicine program, added, "We want our patients to get better, so we need to ask them about the alternative and complementary approaches they are using. If we know what's working and what's not working, we can do a better job advising patients, and we may be able to recommend an approach they haven't tried."

To figure out how patients got to this consideration specialists analyzed the therapeutic records of patients who got acupuncture or chiropractic consideration in 2011. Most of the patients who received acupuncture accessed the administrations through their health plan by using a clinician referral or self-referral benefit. A large portion of patients who got chiropractic care got to that care  through their health plan. The rest went outside the health plan to access these services, or used a combination of health plan and outside resources to access the services. Most of the patients were women with common complaints such as back pain, joint pain, arthritis, extremity, neck and muscle pain, and headache. Patients surveyed online that included 17 questions about the type of pain they experienced, and their use of alternative therapies. This survey was administered as part of a study called RELIEF, which compares outcomes among chronic pain patients who receive both and those who don’t.

Kaiser Permanente

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