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Alternative medicine for back pain not as popular as you might think

Kanodia AK, Legedza AT, Davis RB, Eisenberg DM, Phillips RS. Perceived benefit of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for back pain: a national survey. J Am Board Fam Med. 2010 May-Jun;23(3):354–62. PubMed #20453181.
Tags: back pain, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, controversy, pain problems, spine, manual therapy, treatment, debunkery, mind, energy work

PainSci summary of Kanodia 2010?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Alternative medicine for back pain is not as popular as most people assume. I was surprised myself when a 2010 American survey found that only about 6% of the US population uses any kind of alternative therapy for their back pain: about 75% chiropractic, 20% massage therapy, a few percent acupuncture, and a few percent divided up between everything else. Still, 6% of the American population is almost 2 million people annual looking for a crack, rub, or needle poke!

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract

BACKGROUND: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used to treat back pain, but little is known about factors associated with improvement.

METHODS: We used data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey to examine the associations between the perceived helpfulness of various CAM therapies for back pain.

RESULTS: Approximately 6% of the US population used CAM to treat their back pain in 2002. Sixty percent of respondents who used CAM for back pain perceived a "great deal" of benefit. Using multivariable logistic regression, the factor associated with perceived benefit from CAM modalities was reporting that a reason for using CAM was that "conventional medical treatment would not help" (odds ratio [OR], 1.46; 95% CI, 1.14-1.86). The 2 factors associated with less perceived benefit from CAM modalities were fair to poor self-reported health status (OR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.41-0.82) and referral by a conventional medical practitioner for CAM (OR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.54-0.92). Using chiropractic as a reference, massage (OR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.46-0.83), relaxation techniques (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.14-0.45), and herbal therapy (OR, 0.3; 95% CI, 0.19-0.46) were all associated with less perceived benefit whereas those with similar perceived benefit included yoga/tai chi/qi gong (OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.41-1.22) and acupuncture (OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.37-1.38).

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of respondents who used CAM for back pain perceived benefit. Specific factors and therapies associated with perceived benefit warrant further investigation.

related content

These four articles on cite Kanodia 2010 as a source:

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog.