American Pain Foundation

American Pain Foundation Provides New Tools and Resources on Safe Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

More than 83 Million Americans Use CAM Therapy to Manage and Treat Health Problems Including Pain

November 4, 2011—(Baltimore, MD)—The American Pain Foundation (APF) announced today the launch of a new online educational module focusing on safe use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as part of its PainSAFE™ (Pain Safety & Access For Everyone) initiative. The module, developed with materials and assistance from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), provides consumers and health care professionals information on the effectiveness of CAM therapies for managing pain, possible side effects and risks associated with each therapy, and how these therapies can be used safely.  CAM therapies highlighted include acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation, relaxation therapies, yoga, tai chi and dietary supplements.

CAM is defined by NCCAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine as practiced by medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) and by their allied health professionals such as physical therapists, psychologists and registered nurses.  It is estimated that more than 83 million Americans use some form of CAM therapy to manage and treat their health problems including pain—spending more than $33.9 billion a year on out-of-pocket visits to CAM practitioners and purchases of CAM products, classes and materials.   Some of the most common pain-related reasons people seek CAM therapies are for back pain, followed by neck pain, joint pain, arthritis, severe headaches or migraines and fibromyalgia pain.

“There are many different treatment options available to lessen the pain, improve functioning and enhance quality of life for the more than 116 million Americans living with chronic pain, including CAM therapy,” said Will Rowe, CEO of APF.  “What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. An effective pain management plan must be individualized and very often an integrative approach, which includes a combination of treatment options, is needed.  A person in pain should be informed about all of their treatment options, risks associated with each option, possible side effects, and how these options can safely be used to manage their pain.  PainSAFE provides consumers the tools and resources they need to become active participants in their pain care and offers health care providers the latest scientific information on treatment modalities.”

PainSAFE, designed to reduce risk and improve access to quality pain care by providing people with pain and health care professionals information surrounding the appropriate and safe use of pain management therapies, first launched in September 2010 with tools on opioid medications and implantable devices.  In the spring of 2011, PainSAFE expanded to include resources on over-the-counter medications (OTCs): acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  An interactive Are You PainSAFE? quiz was recently added to allow people to test their pain safety knowledge. To learn more about safe use and risks associated with CAM therapy, opioid medications, implantable devices and acetaminophen and NSAIDS, visit

About APF

Founded in 1997, the American Pain Foundation (APF) is an independent nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and the largest national advocacy organization that serves people affected by pain. APF speaks out for people living with pain, caregivers, health care providers and allied organizations, working together to dismantle the barriers that impede access to quality pain care for all. APF’s mission is to educate, support and advocate for people affected by pain. For more information about APF, visit


The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of Health, is the federal government’s lead agency tasked with defining, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care. For more information about NCCAM, visit

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