Complementary and alternative medicine use in the US adult low back pain population

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Background: Many people suffering from low back pain (LBP) have found conventional medical treatments to be ineffective for managing their LBP and are increasingly turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to find pain relief. A comprehensive picture of CAM use in the LBP population, including all of the most commonly used modalities, is needed. Study Objective: To examine prevalence and perceived benefit of CAM use within the US LBP population by limiting vs nonlimiting LBP and to evaluate the odds of past year CAM use within the LBP population Methods: Data are from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, Alternative Health Supplement. We examined a nationally representative sample of US adults with LBP (N=9665 unweighted). Multiple logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of past year CAM use. Results: In all, 41.2% of the LBP population used CAM in the past year, with higher use reported among those with limiting LBP. The most popular therapies used in the LBP population included herbal supplements, chiropractic manipulation, and massage. The majority of the LBP population used CAM specifically to treat back pain, and 58.1% of those who used CAM for their back pain perceived a great deal of benefit. Conclusion: The results are indicative of CAM becoming an increasingly important component of care for people with LBP. Additional understanding of patterns of CAM use among the LBP population will help health professionals make more informed care decisions and guide investigators in development of future back pain-related CAM research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Advances In Health and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Low back pain
  • National Health Interview Survey


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