Complementary Health Approaches

Frequently Asked Questions

25. What has research shown about complementary health approaches for pain?

Research has shown that some complementary health approaches may help people with some types of pain. Here are examples of complementary approaches that may be helpful for certain conditions.

Low-back pain: Acupuncture, progressive relaxation, spinal manipulation, and yoga may be helpful.

Neck pain: Acupuncture and spinal manipulation may be helpful.

Osteoarthritis pain: Acupuncture, massage, and tai chi may be helpful.

Rheumatoid arthritis pain: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) may help to a modest extent.

Headaches: Acupuncture may be helpful. According to the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society, butterbur is effective for preventing migraines; feverfew, magnesium, and riboflavin are probably effective; and coenzyme Q10 is possibly effective.

Fibromyalgia: Some studies of tai chi, yoga, mindfulness meditation, and biofeedback have had promising results, but there isn’t enough evidence to be certain that any of these methods is helpful.