A couple of months ago, the Annals of Internal Medicine had published their guidelines that basically said no to medication for lower back pain. The conservative medical community continues their skepticism of so called alternative providers such as naturopaths, chiropractors and acupuncturists, based on old beliefs that there is little evidence to show that these approaches are effective, yet many of their patients went alternative after their approaches either did not work or caused a harmful side effect. Are they listening to their patients needs and wants? The increased usage of complimentary providers is a direct result of people not being helped with the typical medication, test and physical therapy protocols model. While the practice of medicine is based on science, their approach to diagnosis and treatment is often hit or miss, and the lets try this idea is hardly scientific.
The same arguments of “what if they treat cancer” and tell people to get off of standard treatments are hollow, since chiropractors, naturopaths as well as other complimentary providers often diagnose cancer and refer to oncologists when necessary. In our office, we have had patients who were misdiagnosed medically and we directed them to the providers who would best suit their needs.
Statistically, the standard modes of treatment for cancer are grossly ineffective with survival rates under 25% and often these cancers return, requiring more costly treatment that forestalls the inevitable death of the individual a few months or years, as they suffer through horrible treatment regimens like chemo. If they saw a naturopath who actually cures it or gets a result that is as good or better than what standard oncology can offer, why is that not appropriate. The truth is that cancer treatments are not the same as cures and the research is geared toward treatment rather than the commonality of all cancers. Cancer genetics is a company that is working on genetic profiles and tests to screen for different cancers, which is not the same as what is triggering cancer and finding the cure so it does not return or morph into another type of tumor. Some of the newer immunotherapy methods that may cure those cancers come at a very high cost with no guarantees for success. Another truth is that many of the inflammatory auto immune diseases are nutritionally based and begin in the gut, which is how naturopath’s address the problem and often cure it .
Treatments for arthritis are not the same as cures either, and most of them are designed by big pharma to keep you taking these expensive medications with no cure in sight. Most rheumatologists can run tests that lead to many of the same expensive drugs to manage the problem rather than cure it. Whomever cures the process is more valuable to mankind regardless of how it is done or what your belief system is.
Who is scientific in their approach is in the eye of the beholder. Why is it scientific to use a hit or miss approach when the approach is merely treating your symptoms, instead of affecting a cure, something many complimentary providers may be able to provide if the health care system covered patients appropriately and allowed for different methods and true patient choice. Luckily, many approaches such as chiropractic are much more affordable on a treatment to treatment basis when compared to most of the medical system, other than primary care.
From a patients point of view, we are often forced to make financial choices based on networks of whom we should or will go to. Most alternative/complimentary providers who may cure your problem are often no covered and are unwilling to work within the confines of insurance company networks and reimbursements which continue to go down, while their willingness to spend money on drugs that are not curative costs society much more than those who are likely to cure. The holistic approach, which looks at everything, rather than looking at your parts is commonly used in Europe who’s medical systems often cost less and offer more satisfaction as well as better results as per the World Health Organization.
Something is clearly wrong. Even if you choose and HSA, which is designed to allow you freedom of choice, you may not get credit toward your deductible with many plans on the exchanges because they are an EPO, which means there is no out of network coverage.
It is the public that should be skeptical, and they are. Unfortunately, they are often easily swayed by those with cultural authority, the medical profession, even though medicine often fails to deliver on the promise of a cure, especially with chronic problems such as pain. Patients often visit a chiropractor for the first time after the medical approach has failed them, and they are desperate and do not know who to trust.
Resolving chronic pain is not about manipulation, or exercises or other treatments; it is about first understanding why this person is in pain and then finding the mechanical basis for why they hurt. The many tools we as chiropractors use by themselves are difficult to study, however when used appropriately, help millions of people without drugs, surgery or deaths from surgical procedures that are risky in many cases. Perhaps this is why when the Annals of Internal Medicine looks at evidence, it is difficult to quantify it.
When you hurt, you must place your faith in somebody. Studies suggest your best course of action is a drugless approach that individualizes the care to your unique body mechanics, something that is often done poorly by mainstream medicine. We are also not widgets, but patients whose body works as systems such as the hormonal systems, neurological systems, musculoskeletal systems and vascular and digestive systems that do not work independently, but often have common neurology, and fascial systems that communicate, so is a holistic approach more scientific, or just more thorough. Is treating your symptom scientific, or just a belief system that has resulted in more health problems costing the system more as we age, a growing problem for all healthcare systems globally.
Quality is not about a doctors degree, or the initials after their name or the hospital they work at; it is about a thorough approach that individualizes the care to your unique problem and finding a solution that works for you. It is about not making care so unaffordable that you have to wait to satisfy a high deductible and then going to treat your now chronic problem which is likely to take more time than it would have if it was adequately cared for earlier. Perhaps now is the time we switch the conversation to how we should have an open-minded approach to healthcare, which treats all disciplines of providers equally, giving the patient equal access to all the providers they would want to visit. Perhaps, all providers need to work together and inter refer to who has the best customer satisfaction for the problems patients complain about.
Check out this interesting discussion, which looks at all sides of this issue. There are many opinions, but as the consumer, you decide what works to help you help yourself and your family. Read it here