According to an analysis of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, approximately 44 percent of American adults with pain or neurological conditions, compared to about 33 percent of people without those conditions, used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) during the previous year. The analysis, published in the Journal of Neurology, also revealed that 51 percent of adults with these conditions did not talk to their health care provider about their CAM use.
Researchers examined common pain or neurological conditions: headaches, including migraines; memory loss; stroke; low-back pain spreading to the leg; seizures; and dementia. The most common CAM therapies used by people with these conditions were mind-body therapies (25 percent), such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga; biologically based therapies (21 percent), such as herbal therapies; manipulative and body-based therapies (19 percent), such as massage and chiropractic care; and alternative medical systems (4 percent).
Nearly 33 percent of respondents with pain or neurological conditions, compared to approximately 21 percent of respondents without those conditions, reported using CAM because of their health care provider’s recommendation. In addition, respondents with pain or neurological conditions indicated that they used CAM because conventional treatment did not work (20 percent vs. 10 percent) and was too expensive (9 percent vs. 4 percent).
These data offer more insight into the use of CAM by people with pain or neurological conditions. The researchers noted that this analysis demonstrates the need for more robust studies on the efficacy of CAM therapies for people with these conditions.
Wells RE, Phillips RS, Schachter SC, et al.. Complementary and alternative medicine use among U.S. adults with common neurological conditions.. Journal of Neurology..; 257:1822–1831..2010