Massage therapy and other types of complementary medicine (CAM) are utilized by neurosurgery patients, and the majority of neurosurgeons recognize CAM as having a role in their practices.

“Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by the U.S. population increased significantly in the past two decades,” the researchers noted. “Because CAM utilization is ubiquitous, open discussion and familiarity with CAM treatments are becoming increasingly important in the field of neurosurgery.”

The survey’s purpose was to assess the current patterns of CAM utilization by neurosurgery patients and neurosurgeon knowledge of CAM therapies among Washington State Association of Neurological Surgeons members. Among the results:

• Acupuncture, herbs, massage therapy, prayer, and yoga were the most common CAM treatments patients used or discussed with their neurosurgeon.

• The majority of responses (79 percent) stated that their neurosurgery practice was 75 percent, or more, adults.

• Fifty percent of neurosurgeons discussed the use of acupuncture among their colleagues.

• Concerning prayer and spirituality, 38 percent of the surveyed neurosurgeons stated that at least 25 percent of their patients have disclosed that they pray for their health; 42 percent stated that spirituality and prayer may affect neurosurgery outcome; and 38 percent of neurosurgeons stated they pray for their patients.

• Overall, 63 percent of surveyed neurosurgeons stated that CAM treatments have a role in neurosurgery.

“To maximize a patient’s recovery from a neurosurgical procedure, it is critical that neurosurgeons be aware of the benefits and potential adverse complications of CAM therapies,” the researchers noted.

The research ran in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.