ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE FOR CHRONIC PAIN?
IT'S ONLY LOGICAL WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE ALTERNATIVE!
Yesterday the CDC released the latest data on the use of Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) as it pertains to chronic musculoskeletal pain, discussing among other things, the large numbers of visits that Americans make each year to providers they deem outside of mainstream medicine. But none of this is really news. Studies have shown that people have been making large numbers of visits to alternative providers, spending most of this money from out of their own pockets (sans insurance).
In fact, clear back in 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine (Unconventional Medicine in the United States. Prevalence, Costs, and Patterns of Use) reported that, "The frequency of use of unconventional therapy in the United States is far higher than previously reported. The majority used unconventional therapy for chronic medical conditions. In 1990 Americans made an estimated 425 million visits to providers of unconventional therapy. This number exceeds the number of visits to all U.S. primary care physicians (388 million). Expenditures associated with use of unconventional therapy in 1990 amounted to approximately $13.7 billion, three quarters of which ($10.3 billion) was paid out of pocket. This figure is comparable to the $12.8 billion spent out of pocket annually for all hospitalizations in the United States." This begs a very important question. Why are the American people using alternatives --- especially when it means they will be paying out of pocket?
According to Science-Based Medicine's Steven Novella (Why Do People Turn to Alternative Medicine?) it has to do with things like, "slick marketing, relaxed regulations, scientific illiteracy, a gullible media......." Interestingly enough, he tells us that it's not is because, "mainstream medicine has failed them. This version of reality is often promoted by CAM marketing. The evidence that we have, however, simply does not support this narrative." As the website he writes for is extremely ANTI-ALTERNATIVE, we shouldn't be surprised that Novella pumps mainstream medicine at the end of his article by saying that, "The way forward is with science-based medicine, not abandoning science for a fantasy."
Again; why would people pay to go to alternative practitioners and pay out-of-pocket, knowing that they could go to a doctor for the price of a co-pay? Firstly, hardly anyone has good health insurance anymore. In plainer terms, it's not uncommon --- especially among the self-employed --- to see five figure deductibles. But secondly, I think that Novella is not only wrong, but his belief that mainstream medicine is doing a "satisfactory" job is getting wronger (yes, I realize the correct syntax is "more wrong") with every passing day.
Healing involves much more than a doctor simply giving you a pill, or a chiropractor giving you an adjustment. While the physical treatment is certainly important (HERE for instance), real healing also involves relationship. Generations of families used to have relationship with their doctor (HERE). Now that the practice of medicine is corporate (HERE), people are "forced" by their insurance into a round-robin of physicians. Your employer changed insurance carriers? You can bet your bottom dollar that your current doctor won't be on the provider list. But the issues run deeper than this --- MUCH DEEPER.
How would you like to go to a doctor who absolutely hates what he / she does? What if your doctor got up every day, dreading work and longing for the day they can finally retire? According to A RECENT STUDY, that's exactly what's going on with fully half of all practicing physicians. But we still haven't got to the bottom of this issue. What if, as a physician, all you had to offer your chronic patients were drugs? If you want to freak yourself out a bit, start learning the truth about DRUGS, EXAMINATIONS & TESTS, and SCIENCE-BASED MEDICINE itself. It's no wonder people are looking for alternatives to things like "THE BIG FIVE". Or surgery (HERE). Or FLU SHOTS. Or ANTIBIOTICS. But what's really driving them to alternative practitioners? Try this on for size. The May 2004 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine (What Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners Say About Health and Health Care) revealed that....
"The CAM practitioners interviewed stressed the holistic, empowering, and person-centered nature of CAM. They described themselves as healers, employing attentiveness, touch, and love to increase self-awareness and strengthen the healing process, usually in chronic illness, often with pain. They affirmed goodwill and respect toward conventional medicine, calling for greater integration of conventional and complementary health care; however, they identified the major differences of conventional medicine and several formidable barriers."
"Formidable barriers"? You mean like PREJUDICE, MONEY, and GOVERNMENTAL BIAS? The thing I've learned after two and a half decades of practice is that if you do excellent work and help people overcome their Chronic Pain and CHRONIC ILLNESS, the sky's the limit. People will seek you out and find you wherever you are --- even in tiny MOUNTAIN VIEW, MISSOURI. This is why yesterday's CDC report (Use of Complementary Health Approaches for Musculoskeletal Pain Disorders Among Adults: United States....) should surprise no one; least of all the authors.
"In 2012, 54.5% of U.S. adults had a musculoskeletal pain disorder. The use of any complementary health approach for any reason among persons with a musculoskeletal pain disorder (41.6%)." Using some simple math, we calculate that about 75 million Americans are using some sort of Complimentary & Alternative Medicine. According to this paper, the top musculoskeletal problems Americans face are ARTHRITIS, LOW BACK PAIN, JOINT PAIN, CHRONIC NECK PAIN, and SCIATICA, in that order. Of these, the number one reason by far that people seek out CAM is Chronic Neck Pain.
The really cool thing is that Chronic Neck Pain is a huge focus of my practice (HERE are some others). Does what I do work? Not always. But the great thing is that you'll know after a single visit if my approach is going to help you or not. And if it doesn't, there are any number of other things you can try on your own. One of the things I've done on my site is to provide you with tons of information to help you create your own EXIT STRATEGY (HERE'S ANOTHER). What do I want from you in return? You can always show us some love on FACEBOOK. But honestly, helping you take your life back is one of the things that makes me tick. My goal with every patient that enters in my clinic is to give you a GOLD BRICK to take home with you.