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  1. N. Betteridge1
  1. 1Neil Betteridge Associates Ltd, Patient Advocacy, London, United Kingdom


Background Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain affects bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia and nerves. The pain can occur suddenly (acute) and can become recurrent. The cause is not always clear but triggers can include obesity, trauma and injury, overuse, ageing, inflammation, and mental disorders. Conventional therapies such as rehabilitation, drugs and surgery treat the symptoms of MSK pain but often not the underlying cause. Integrative medicine (IM) is an alternative to conventional therapies as it focuses on the whole person, making use of all therapeutic approaches to promote healing and is being used more world-wide by both patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs). Connected to IM is the concept of self-healing, an intrinsic ability of the whole body that has developed throughout evolution. A recent publication describes the ‘self-healing concept’ as the innate ability of the body and mind to promote body networks to return the body to equilibrium and relieve pain.1 There are five body networks thought to be essential, the nervous system, microcirculation, immune modulation, muscular relaxation/contraction and psychological balance. Integral to the self-healing concept is that the body networks can be boosted and optimised by the use of IM which can act simultaneously through more than one body network (multi-modal). The use of IM is amenable to patients managing their own care (self-management) however, there is a need for both HCPs and patients to be educated on the self-healing concept.

Objectives A global survey will be conducted to further understand the perception of patient and HCPs about the self-healing concept and its multi-modal IM approaches.

Methods The multi-modal IM approaches of the self-healing concept are described here as well as the global survey which will inform and request feedback from HCPs and patients on the role of self-healing in supported self-management of MSK pain.

Results Multi-modal IM approaches that boost and optimise body networks to reduce MSK pain within the self-healing concept include a variety of techniques. The innate ability of both the body and mind are integral to self-healing and psychological techniques such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnosis are therapies that make use the strength of the mind. Regards the body, muscle strengthening through moderate exercise and physiotherapy is linked to an increase in microcirculation associated with muscle contraction/relaxation. Dietary patterns also have an important role in musculoskeletal well-being, as high intakes of protein, fat, and sugar are associated with a lower pain threshold. The use of traditional Chinese medicine has been shown to be effective, along with other natural therapies such as melatonin, menthol and cannabidiol and heat therapy which can be used to relieve pain and muscle cramps, increase blood flow and facilitate tissue healing. An increasing number of devices are being introduced to patients such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which provides localised strong yet comfortable muscle contractions to ease musculoskeletal pain, and infra-red technology, which can potentially help enhance blood circulation and metabolism.

The self-healing global survey is being developed for release in mid-2022. Around 15–20 simple questions will be asked of patients and HCPs via a digital platform/app. The insights generated will address unmet need, quality of life, importance of new innovative therapies, impact of treatment options and the impact of self-management, self-healing and sustainability on the healthcare system.

Conclusion The use of integrative medicine can boost and optimise the body networks within the self-healing concept and there are many options available for patient self-management of MSK. Results from the survey will identify current treatment gaps and what is needed to improve patient outcomes.

This study was funded by Sanofi.

References [1]McSwan J, Gudin J, et al. Journal of Pain Research. 2021;14:2943-58.

Acknowledgements This study was funded by Sanofi. Thank you to the international group of experts for their time and efforts in the development of the self-healing concept: Joyce McSwan (PainWISE, Australia), Jeffrey Gudin (University of Miami, USA), Xue-Jun Song (Southern University of Science and Technology, China) Perola Grinberg Plapler (Hospital das Clínicas, Brazil), Hayet Kechemir (Sanofi CHC, France), Iva Igracki-Turudic (Sanofi CHC, Germany) and Gisele Pickering (Clinical Investigation Center CIC Inserm, France).

Disclosure of Interests Neil Betteridge Consultant of: Amgen, Eli Lilly, EULAR, GAfPA, Grunenthal, Heart Valve Voice and Sanofi

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