In August 2014, ProHealth conducted a survey about pain treatments.
Pain is a symptom common to many chronic illnesses. It’s a key symptom of fibromyalgia and is often a predominant feature in chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis as well.
Treating pain presents an ongoing and often frustrating challenge for both patients and their doctors. Treatment options range from over-the-counter and prescription medications to supplements and numerous alternative and complementary therapies.
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Of the 468 people who took the survey, 93% had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and 29% with ME or CFS. Twenty-eight percent reported having other chronic illnesses as well, with some form of arthritis being the most common. The vast majority had been ill for more than three years, with 19% reporting illness of more than 20 years. Most patients (64%) rated their illness as moderately/severely to moderately ill (3-5 on a scale of 1-10).
On a scale of 0-10, with zero being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine, a quarter of the respondents rated their average daily pain level as seven, 21% as eight and 19% as six.
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More than half of the respondents (55%) said they had been taking some type of medication for pain for more than five years. Most patients had tried several different types of prescription medication for their pain. Opioids were rated as the most effective by 77% of the people who had tried them, followed by muscle relaxants at 62%, antidepressants at 52% and medical marijuana at 50%. Of the over-the-counter medications tried, NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen were rated as much more effective (54%) than either aspirin or acetaminophen.
The vast majority reported experiencing side effects from medications. A third described the side effects as “moderate,” while 28% said they were “strong.” Frequently reported side effects included nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, constipation and dry mouth.
A quarter of the respondents said they had tried nutritional supplements for pain. Of those, half said that magnesium and malic acid had improved their pain levels, and 47% reported that vitamin D3 was effective in reducing pain.
Other types of therapies pain patients found to be most effective were:
- Balneotherapy/Water Therapy – 71%
- Massage Therapy – 69%
- TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) – 59%
- Myofascial Release Therapy – 57%
- Yoga – 52%
- Acupuncture – 49%
When asked, “Which category of pain treatment have you found to be most effective for reducing pain?” 70% chose medications.
You can see the detailed results of the survey HERE .