Non-Drug Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

In 2018, a CADTH Environmental Scan was done to understand the current context around access to, and the availability of, non-drug methods for people with chronic pain across Canada. The scan highlighted issues with access to non-drug methods for chronic pain, as well as the very limited guidance available to support clinicians and patients in making evidence-informed decisions about how to choose an appropriate non-drug method for addressing chronic pain.

CADTH subsequently completed a series of evidence reviews to appraise and summarize the research on the effectiveness of non-drug methods for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain. Information from these evidence reviews was used to develop the following resources in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Key Messages From the Evidence Reviews

  • Evidence supports the use of non-pharmacological interventions for chronic pain management.
  • A Canadian guideline recommends trying non-opioid and non-pharmacological methods for chronic pain before other methods.

Resources for People Living With Chronic Pain


National Versions

Saskatchewan-Specific Versions

Resources for Clinicians

Evidence Summaries

These summaries for clinicians coincide with the handouts for people living with chronic pain. They include “practical considerations,” which are useful tips and strategies for recommending the use of each non-drug method to patients.

National Versions

Saskatchewan-Specific Versions


Chronic Pain Prescription Pad

National Versions

Saskatchewan-Specific Versions


CADTH would like to thank the Saskatchewan Health Authority for its clinical expertise in developing the “practical considerations” for the clinician resources, and its Department of Pain Strategy for reviewing and informing the development of the patient and clinician resources. Appreciations to the Canadian Pain Task Force and its External Advisory Panel for reviewing the “practical considerations” for the clinician resources. An additional thanks to the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s Opioid Stewardship Program for its clinical expertise in reviewing and informing the development of the chronic pain prescription pad. CADTH would also like to thank SaskPain for its assistance with identifying individuals living with chronic pain to review the resources. Lastly, a special thanks to the following individuals who reviewed and contributed to the patient resources:

  • Erin Beckwell
  • Nikki Cooke
  • Diane Kotschorek
  • Ross McCreery
  • Virginia McIntyre
  • Laura Millions Cone
  • Bob Rankin
  • Cody Sharpe.