HealthDay News — Non-drug methods of managing pain from conditions such as headaches and arthritis appear to be effective, according to a review published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH, of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues reviewed 105 US-based clinical trials from the past 50 years that were relevant to pain patients.

Several alternative approaches showed promise for providing safe and effective pain relief. They included acupuncture and yoga for back pain, acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee, and relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraine. The researchers also found that massage therapy, spinal manipulation, and osteopathic manipulation might help relieve back pain, while relaxation therapy and tai chi might help patients with fibromyalgia.

“These data can equip providers and patients with the information they need to have informed conversations regarding non-drug approaches for treatment of specific pain conditions,” David Shurtleff, MD, the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s deputy director, said in a center news release. “It’s important that continued research explore how these approaches actually work and whether these findings apply broadly in diverse clinical settings and patient populations.”

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Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, Stussman BJ, Weber WJ. Evidence-Based Evaluation of Complementary Health Approaches for Pain Management in the United States. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016; doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.06.007.