For many years people have relied on Western medical therapy and ideas to treat all kinds of arthritis. They used a combination of prescription drugs, rest, exercise, good body mechanics and joint preservation techniques to treat their arthritis.
For the most part these kinds of therapies seemed to be the only ones doctors relied upon for symptom relief. This approach has proven beneficial for many thousands of people for decades, but there have been a number of people who, for one reason or another, cannot take medicine or utilize these other forms of therapy. This other sector of people with arthritis has looked beyond what we call conventional therapy and has explored the world of alternative therapies. In the last few years more and more attention is being focused on alternative therapies. Part of the reason for the increased interest is people who have arthritis are not realizing the results they want from the conventional forms of therapy. As patients assume more responsibility for their own healthcare, they are looking beyond conventional treatments and have a desire to incorporate all kinds of therapy into their treatment program. In this article I hope to help you understand some of these alternative treatments and how you can go about deciding whether they are something you want to add to your treatment program.
Alternative Medicine: Refers to medical practices or remedies used in place of mainstream Western medicine.
Complementary Medicine: These are therapies that are used along with or in support of mainstream Western medicine.
Western Medicine, Allopathic Medicine: Medical treatments and therapies — drugs or otherwise — accepted by U.S. mainstream medicine, taught in medical schools, prescribed by doctors and used in hospitals.
Holistic Medicine: Refers to a way of treating the patient, taking into consideration their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health when designing or planning a person’s healing process.
Integrative Medicine: This is an approach that integrates complimentary therapies into Western medical practice to individualize a person’s treatment plan.
Preventive Medicine: This medical practice focuses on educating and treating a patient to help prevent health problems from occurring, rather than treat the problem once it develops.
Unconventional Medicine: This form of therapy is described as being any treatment or therapy — drugs or otherwise — that does not fall within the conventional or Western medicine category.
One other topic, the dangers of using alternative therapy, is also important to know before we get into the specific alternative therapies. Some patients get irritated at their healthcare providers when they seem not to be at all interested in hearing about alternative therapies. As a patient, and one who likes to be the center of his/her own care, it is important that doctors keep an open mind and try to help that person understand why or why not to incorporate alternative therapies into their existing treatment plan. If a physician is not willing to do that, many times the patient will go out on their own and start using alternative therapies without disclosing that to his/her doctor. This can be a very dangerous approach to treatment, especially if the person is taking prescribed medication along with the alternative therapy. If you are one of those people who fall into this category then please read this next paragraph carefully.
There are many danger signals that all of us should be aware of when deciding whether a therapy, especially medical, is appropriate for us. Here are some claims we should question:
A salesman or practitioner who cannot disclose the secret way the treatment works. If it had a scientific base, then the information would be available to the scientific community for review and evaluation.
The claim of a cure or a miraculous breakthrough without scientific data to back it up is always something to be cautious about. Big discoveries are few in number. Most of the time when we do have one, a scientist is very cautious about claiming it as a cure.
If the only way you have heard about the treatment is on an infomercial, on the back page of magazine, over the phone or by direct mail, this should raise some question in your mind. Usually treatments that have been researched are identified in medical journals or other reputable publications.
to be continued…