BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is a debilitating problem with significant impact on healthcare utilization in the US. Many chronic pain patients use complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) in addition to standard pharmacologic therapy.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of our study was to identify differences in the characteristics of usage of CAM for chronic pain control among several ethnic groups.
DESIGN: We recruited 92 consecutive patients seeking treatment at the pain clinic and interviewed them using a questionnaire.
RESULTS: The most common pain complaint was back pain (55.4%) and the mean pain duration for all chronic pain problems was 9.8 years. Approximately 81% of respondents were using or have used CAM before. The commonest CAM used by patients in our study included massage therapy, spiritual healing as well as the consumption of mineral and vitamin supplements. Sixty-three percent of them were satisfied with CAM treatment compared to 56% of patients who were satisfied with prescription therapy. However, there was no difference in the use of CAM among the different ethnic groups (P > 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates that CAM is used very frequently in patients with chronic pain. However, it did not show any ethnic or racial differences in CAM utilization.