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Pain Patients Seek Choices

For people suffering from intense physical pain, standard medical treatments and drugs do not always work. Some chronic pain patients have turned to alternative therapies for help, reports Correspondent Helen Chickering of CBS News Affiliate WBTV in Charlotte, N.C.

A car accident five years ago wrecked Virginia Connoly's life.

"I had a lot of broken bones in the upper part of my body," Connoly says. "The breast bone was broken, the clavicle bone was broken, shattered on the left side, ribs were broken on the right side."

The broken bones healed, but her pain only got worse. She went through physical and medicinal therapies. Nothing worked.

"He tells me, 'You have to deal with this. You have to live like this,'" she says, recalling her doctor's consultation. "'There is nothing I can do to help you.'"

Connoly says he offered drug therapies, but she did not want to take pain medicine anymore. On the advice of a friend, she went to see Dr. Ray Drury, a chiropractor.

His goal is to get to the root of the pain problem, not just treat the symptoms. He believes Connoly's pain stems from a misalignment in her neck.

"We're trying to find that impedement, open that up, then
it will start working,"
Drury explains.

"There are over 600 million office visits to providers of alternative care," says Dr. David Eisenberg of Beth Israel Medicine Center. "By contrast there are only 380 million office visits to all primary care physicians combined. This is an enormous part of the system."

Dr. Gerald Aronoff, a specialist who has written a book on chronic pain, says many patients take Connoly's path.

"If it helps, it works, if it doesn't cause any adverse side effects and seems reasonable, I go along with patients on some of these things," Aronoff says.

"However, if they are doing this long-term and saying, 'I'm still in treatment, so I can't get on with my life,' I tend to cut that off, because treatments are designed or should be designed to help people function better and get on with their life," he adds.

Connoly says she has been able to move on from her pain.

"I was relieved of the pain and I still -- it is still unreal to me," she says. "I do not have this pain after I dealt with it for four years at the time. I'm able to work. I have no pain."

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