The world of traditional medicine got a shock in January of 1993. The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of David Eisenberg’s study, which showed that one out of every three people were using alternative medicine. And even more shocking, they spent $10 billion dollars to do it!
Since then alternative medicine has become increasingly popular. In 1998 half of the people in the United States used some form of alternative medicine, there are now more visits to alternative practitioners annually then there are to traditional physicians. Many health care plans are now covering a portion of alternative costs.
Why are we turning to alternatives? More often than not, it is for the treatment of chronic pain. Modern medicine has extended the average life expectancy but has failed to cure many painful conditions, such as arthritis. We are living longer with pain. In one study, one third to one half of the people with arthritis surveyed admitted to using some type of alternative therapy.
Does it work? It depends on whom you ask. Ask someone diagnosed with OA whose treatment of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate was successful and you will hear a resounding “Yes!” Ask a rheumatoid arthritis patient whose experiment with magnet therapy was an expensive failure and you’ll likely be told it is a scam. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
No one alternative treatment will work for everyone, just as no medication works on all people. Explore alternatives with an open but cautious mind and you should do just fine.
New Patients, New Doctors: The Demand for Alternative Treatments and the Changing Face of Medicine Annemarie Colbin, CHES
The Arthritis Foundation’s Guide to Alternative Medicine