Integrative approaches to treating pain in sickle cell disease: Pre-clinical and clinical evidence

Complement Ther Med. 2020 Jun;51:102394. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102394. Epub 2020 May 11.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic disorder characterized by hemolysis, end-organ damage, inflammation, and pain. Recurrent and unpredictable episodes of acute pain due to vaso-occlusive crises are a unique feature of SCD. Many patients also develop lifelong chronic pain. Opioids are the primary method of pain treatment in SCD; however, continued use is associated with several adverse effects. Integrative approaches to treating pain in SCD are increasingly being explored to prevent the side effects associated with opioids. In this review, we highlight the mechanisms of pain in SCD and describe mechanism-based integrative approaches for treating pain.

Keywords: Pain; Sickle cell disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Animals
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pain Management / methods*