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Elderly patient refractory to multiple pain medications successfully treated with integrative East–West medicine

Authors Tu B, Johnston M, Hui K

Published 1 July 2008 Volume 2008:1 Pages 3—6

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S3670

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Bill Tu, Michael Johnston, Ka-Kit Hui

UCLA Center for East–West Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Background: Polypharmacy is a common and serious problem in the elderly today. Few solutions have been effective in reducing its incidence.

Case summary: An 87-year-old female with a history of osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis presented with a five month history of severe right hip pain. She had been seen by multiple specialists and hospitalized many times. During these encounters, she was prescribed a long list of pain medications. However, these medications did not improve her pain and added to her risk of adverse drug events. After exhausting traditional Western medical therapies, she received a referral to the UCLA Center for East–West Medicine. There, clinicians treated her with a nonpharmacological integrative East-West medicine approach that included acupuncture, dry needling of trigger points, and education on self-acupressure. Her pain began improving and she was able to cut back on analgesic use under physician supervision. Ultimately, she improved to the point where she was able to discontinue all of her pain medications. Symptomatic relief was evidenced by improvement in health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

Conclusions: This case study suggests that integrative East–West medicine may have the potential to reduce the incidence of polypharmacy in elderly patients presenting with pain conditions and improve their quality of life.

Keywords: polypharmacy, pain, osteoarthritis, acupuncture, complementary and alternative medicine, integrative medicine, adverse drug reaction, elderly

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