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Popping painkillers may not be the answer to relieving aches and pains. Instead, experts in the field believe simple lifestyle changes can greatly improve patients' quality of life. Gordon Novak, MD, director of the Pain Management Center at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, said if patients participated in daily activities such as taking a walk, grocery shopping, and interacting with others, it could add to a healthy lifestyle that decreases pain. He noted that individuals with chronic pain become sedentary and isolated, causing weight gain that may increase the stress on their body, and loneliness that can lead to depression.
While alternative cures remain an option, physicians have doubts about herbal cures. It is imperative for patients taking supplements of any kind to notify their physician because they may interfere with other drugs or have other side effects. Acupuncture, however, has proven effective in some patients. A recent study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health showed that acupuncture provided a 40% reduction in pain for a number of arthritis patients. "Pain management is really an art form; it really depends on the relationship between doctor and patient," said John Goodson, MD, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital who deals with patients facing daily, chronic pain.