The review of innovative integration of Kampo medicine and Western medicine as personalized medicine at the first multidisciplinary pain center in Japan

EPMA J. 2014 Jun 27;5(1):10. doi: 10.1186/1878-5085-5-10. eCollection 2014.


Background: The Japanese medical system is unique because it is the only country in the world where Western medicine and traditional Japanese medicine including Kampo medicine, traditional Japanese herbal medicine, are used in our daily clinical practice. Pain is essentially an interactive psychophysiological behavior pattern. Thus, an interdisciplinary approach is often recommended in providing appropriate therapeutic care for the patients suffering from chronic and intractable pain. In addition, we have been prescribing Kampo medicines in combination with Western medicines as personalized medicine in order to treat patients with chronic pain at our pain center. The aim of our study was to conduct a survey on the current use and the effect of Kampo medicines in our multidisciplinary pain center.

Methods: Retrospective analysis was performed on 221 out of 487 patients suffering from chronic pain.

Results: The most frequent medical complaints for which Kampo medicines were prescribed were lower back/lower limb pain, neck/upper limb pain, various facial pains, headache/migraine, whiplash-associated disorder, and frozen shoulder. Kampo medicines were prescribed based on patient-centered Kampo diagnosis. Moreover, several Kampo medicines generally for the management of psychological symptoms were prescribed for about 70% of the patients. Pain improvement in the patients was categorized as follows: 26.3% with marked improvement, 12.7% with moderate improvement, 38.9% with some improvement, and 19.9% with no improvement.

Conclusions: Two thirds of the chronic pain patients with the use of Kampo medicines combined with Western medicine experienced further pain improvements.

Keywords: Chronic and intractable pain; Kampo medicine; Multidisciplinary pain center.