Information for Family Members

MassPI offers the following Facts Sheets to assist persons with pain and their families:

Caregivers Fact Sheet

Cost of Pain Fact Sheet

End of Life Fact Sheet

General Pain Fact Sheet

Key Messages About Pain

Safe Use of Prescription Opioid

If you or a loved one is experiencing acute or persistent pain, you've probably seen the effect it can have on your entire family. Many people with acute or persistent pain report interference with work, daily activities, sleep, and sexual intimacy. Quality of life can often deteriorate, irritability can develop, and this can hurt relationships with family members and friends.

You do not have to feel alone. If you are working with a medical interdisciplinary team, ask your nurse, social worker or clergy for assistance. Often, there are support groups or informative brochures to help you and your loved ones during this process. Included in this page are some resources that provide very helpful information for family and caregivers.

American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)

The American Chronic Pain Association has many tools and resources available for people with pain and their loved ones. A dorectory for local support groups is also available on their web site:

The Role of Complementary and Alternative
Medicine in Pain Management

NOTE: This article will provide an overview of complementary and alternative therapies. As with conventional therapies, MassPI cannot recommend specific treatments for pain. Patients should consult with their own health care professional and other practitioners about interventions that may be of benefit to them.

Both professionals and the lay public increasingly recognize the importance of “complementary” and “alternative” therapies in the role of pain management:

  • complementary therapies are used in addition to conventional treatments;
  • alternative therapies are generally used instead of conventional treatments.

Increasingly we are learning from the research that these therapies can be useful in providing evidence based best care to the whole person. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) was established by Congressional mandate in October 1998. The Center's predecessor, the Office of Alternative Medicine, was established in 1992. The mission of NCCAM is to support rigorous research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), to train researchers in CAM, and to disseminate information to the public and professionals on which CAM modalities work, which do not, and why.

NCCAM recognizes 5 major domains of complementary and alternative medicine. These include Alternative Medical Systems, Mind-Body Interventions, Biologically-Based Treatments, Manipulative and Body-Based Methods, and Energy Therapies. Examples of a few of each of these categories are given below.

Alternative Medical Systems are complete systems of theory and practice that are independent of our conventional Western, biomedical approach to care. They are, however, complete systems of care, many of which also have their own scientific and evidence based practice. These systems include Ayurveda , Native American, Aboriginal, African, Middle-Eastern, Tibetan, Central and South American cultures, traditional Chinese medicine, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy.

Mind-Body Interventions are those that facilitate the mind’s ability to affect bodily functions and symptoms. Many, such as patient education and cognitive behavioral approaches are now considered “mainstream.” Other interventions in this domain include meditation, hypnosis, dance, music, art therapy, prayer and mental healing.

Biologically-Based Treatments are natural and biologically based interventions of care. Included in this domain are herbal treatments, special diets (such as those developed by Drs. Atkins, Ornish, Pritikin and Weil), orthomolecular therapies using mega doses of vitamins, magnesium, or melatonin, and individual biological therapies such as shark cartilage or laetrile.

Manipulative and Body-Based Methods are those interventions based on manipulation and/or movements of the body or spine including Chiropractic, osteopathic, and massage therapies.

Energy Therapies are

  • biofield therapies, which focus on energy fields within the body;
  • electromagnetic therapies which focus on fields outside of the body.
  • These include but are not limited to Qi Gong, Bio-energy healing, Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, and Healing Touch.

The NCCAM Web site is a rich resource of publications, information for researchers, answers to frequently asked questions about CAM, and links to other CAM-related resources. Databases located on the NCCAM Web site include:

The NCCAM Clearinghouse is the public point of contact for scientifically based information on CAM and for information about NCCAM. For more information on CAM or NCCAM, contact:

NCCAM Clearinghouse
Toll-free: 1-888-644-6226
International: 301-519-3153
TTY (for deaf or hard-of-hearing callers): 1-866-464-3615

Web site:
Address: NCCAM Clearinghouse,
P.O. Box 7923
Gaithersburg MD 20898-7923

Fax: 1-866-464-3616
Fax-on-Demand Service: 1-888-644-6226

Information from NCCAM Website, NCCAM Publication No. D158
June 2002, retrieved August 11, 2003.