Alternative medicine methods for pain management

We already posted here at JS the news that Oregon was going to expand alternative treatment methods for pain in their medical insurance program. The motive was reducing use of opiates, and pushing alternative methods, many unproven.

This essay is about the unscientific and mystical approaches of alternative medcine that are repeatedly seen, in this case a positive spin by NPR.

The use of magical potions and methods is widespread. Doctors (many of them not physicians at all) offer magical therapies. They are everywhere, for example a ‘Doctor’ I recently heard about doing land office business in injections for chronic pain including what appear to be magical potions given intrvenously in a couple of towns in Oklahoma–with a parking lot full, charging $ 250 for injections of liquids not identified or subject to consent by the patient generally guaranteed to cure chronic pain. Is that unusual or what?

The placebo/hope effect is a major confounder.

The essay properly criticizes the unscientific nonsense put out by NPR.


2 responses to “Alternative medicine methods for pain management

  1. @john1282
    I mostly agree, but they are way off on the NSAIDS. They are nowhere near as bad as advertised, and foolish avoidance of them has led may into opioid addiction.

    • Agreed on the NSAIDS. There are few drugs other than NSAIDs that give me pain relief. It took three days in the hospital to find a drug that would relieve short-term intense pain. Most opioids do nothing. Addiction is not even a consideration considering how badly the drugs fail to relieve pain for me.
      That being said, it really doesn’t matter whether a pain relief source is “scientifically correct”. If accupuncture results in the individual perceiving less pain, then it did what was needed. Pain is very much perception—some people have a very high pain tolerance, others not so much. With the exact same injuries. It may be expensive trying alternative treatments, yes. However, being hospitalized while doctors searched for a “scientifically correct” pain relief method was anything but cheap. Science at times is very little better than pseudoscience when dealing with psychological phenomena like pain.
      Things like accupuncture promise pain relief and may not deliver, but science does always deliver either. Both groups need to be honest about what can and cannot be done for pain and the reality that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

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