Navigate Up

Full Library - A-Z Index


Print This Page

Alternative medicine - pain relief

Alternative Names

Acupuncture - pain relief; Hypnosis - pain relief; Guided imagery

Information

Alternative medicine refers to treatments that are used instead of conventional (standard) ones. If you use an alternative treatment along with conventional medicine or therapy, it's considered complementary therapy.

There are many forms of alternative medicine.

For many people, acupuncture is an effective means of relieving pain. This may be particularly true for back pain and headache pain. Acupuncture may also help relieve pain due to:

How acupuncture relieves pain is not entirely clear.

Hypnosis is a focused state of concentration. Self-hypnosis (in which you repeat a positive statement over and over) or guided imagery (a technique to create relaxing images in your mind) may be simple but effective ways to reduce pain for many people.

Hypnosis is being considered for pain relief following surgery and during labor, as well as for pain due to:

Both acupuncture and hypnosis are often offered by pain management centers in the United States. Other non-drug methods used at such centers include:

  • Massage
  • Relaxation training
  • Physical therapy

References

Metz JM, Jones H. Complementary and alternative medicine. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 35.

Weinstein SM. Nonmalignant pain. In: Walsh D, Caraceni AT, Fainsinger R, et al, eds. Palliative Medicine. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 170.

Michelfelder AJ. Acupuncture for headaches. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 110.

Michelfelder AJ. Acupuncture for nausea and vomiting. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 111.

Gurgevich S. Self-hypnosis techniques. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 94.

Rossman ML. Guided imagery and interactive guided imagery. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 97.

Updated: 10/22/2011

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com