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Complementary treatments for pain and mental health

Can non-traditional therapies, such as yoga, meditation and tai-chi aid in pain and mental health?

Musculoskeletal pain and mental health disorders are some of the most costly conditions to manage worldwide.

In the UK, it is estimated that both mental health and low back pain affect one in four adults at some point in their life. Moreover, it is estimated that over £500 million is spent each year on low back pain management specifically, and over £105 billion is spent managing mental health disorders. It is expected that the costs of both will rise substantially in coming years.

The aim of this study was to look beyond traditional medication interventions for musculoskeletal and mental health disorders, and to evaluate if there is evidence supporting the use of complementary interventions, such as yoga, tai chi and mindfulness.

While the findings of strong correlations between complementary therapies and common issues such as low back pain and mental health is not surprising, it is good to see evidence which supports these interventions.

With the financial burden of managing both long-term pain and mental health conditions to society, these adjunctive therapies can prove to be a more active and self-guided strategy to management.

These interventions are also unique in that they challenge a patient to learn ways they can manage their symptoms outside of a traditional doctor’s office or clinic, and empowers them to self-guide their own treatment.

While further research is needed to support specific types of yoga, tai chi, or mindfulness, this is a start in understanding the roles of additional therapies in modern medicine.

> From: Lorenc et al., BMJ Open 8 (2018) e020222 (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.

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