In April 2021, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) released a guideline for the management of chronic pain which states: “this guideline underlines the importance of appropriate assessment, careful drug choice, exercise programmes, psychological therapies, and consideration of acupuncture in improving the experience and outcomes of care for people with chronic pain.” It also states: “people with chronic primary pain should not be started on commonly used drugs including paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, benzodiazepines or opioids. This is because there is little or no evidence that they make any difference to people’s quality of life, pain or psychological distress, but they can cause harm, including possible addiction.” (www.nice.org.uk)
Though acupuncture is already widely known for its effectiveness in the treatment of pain, it’s fantastic to see NICE recommending it ahead of common painkillers. Acupuncture’s unique role in reducing suffering in people with pain is in fact one of the main reasons it has become so popular around the world. I’m also thrilled to see NICE highlighting the need to take a more holistic look at sufferers and their ability to enjoy life.
The most common chronic pain conditions I see in clinical practice include: