We absolutely love it when patients bring articles and clippings from newspapers and magazines about health in to us. This week we received two articles one from the Sun-Times and one from the Tribune discussing the same thing: the fact that alternative medicine use is one the rise here in the US. In fact, nearly 40% of all adults in the US tried an alternative (integrative) therapy last year, of which chiropractic was by far the most popular. What is the reason for this? Well, most of the therapies were for a chronic condition such as neck or back pain, arthritis, anxiety, high cholesterol, high blood, pressure, etc. For many of these conditions alternative treatments work just as well, or better, than medical approaches, while at the same time they are safer.
One of the major themes of both articles was the use of complementary treatments by the medical profession. It outlines how more and more MD’s are turning to these treatments as they realize their effectiveness. This is a welcome change from days past when the medical profession was hostile to any alternative health care practices. In fact, in the early 1990’s the AMA was found guilty by the US Supreme Court in an antitrust suit of illegally conspiring to destroy the chiropractic profession. As late as the mid 1970s chiropractors were put into jail for simply trying to help patients. Today, it seems, the health care profession is starting focusing on what is important: giving the best care to patients as safely and cheaply as possible. In our office we regularly refer patients to MD’s, physical therapists, acupuncturists, podiatrist, massage therapist, and other providers for concurrent care. We just want our patients to be as healthy as possible, and we believe that working closely with all types of providers will help us do just that.
I wanted to make one last comment on the articles. In both complementary treatments are label as unproven or lacking evidence. This is a fallacy. For chiropractic, and other treatments, there is a large, ever growing body of research that confirms effectiveness of what we do. Complementary medicine unfortunately has not had the levels of funding that traditional medicine has. We don’t have large pharmaceutical companies funding, though this is a blessing since much of their research is tainted due to the lure of profit, we haven’t have thousands of large universities publishing research on our behalf, and
until the last ten years we haven’t received funding from governmental organizations such as the National Institutes of Health. Not that all these resources make medical interventions fully researched. In fact, a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that in 2004 40% of all prescription medications in the US were prescribed off label, meaning they were prescribed for uses they are not approved for by the FDA, the number is even higher, up to 70%, for children. Is it any wonder that one of the leading causes of death in the US is side effects to prescription medications? Luckily this all of this is changing. In the last year we have seen studies on chiropractic done in conjunction with a number of the top universities in the world, including the University of Chicago, the NIH has increased its number of research grants for alternative treatments, and the Association of Chiropractic College has pushed to publish more and more research into chiropractic.
In the end these developments are very positive for all of us. Health care professions, whether it is medicine, osteopathy, Chiropractic, PT, massage therapy, etc, should not be in competition with each other. Our goals to be to do whatever it takes, and work with whomever it takes, to get the best, safest, and cheapest, result for the patient.
Thanks to those patients who brought us these articles and I encourage everyone to bring in or bring up any health topic or current event they see. We want to be an information source for our community and you can help us achieve that!