Just what does it take to get better? According to integrative medicine, patients should work with their doctors to formulate a team treatment response. Until recently, the only type of treatment widely available in the United States was conventional or traditional medicine. Now, this has expanded, embracing other approaches to chronic illness as well. In this article, we discuss the basics of medicine and how different types of treatment can work together to create an integrative approach.

If you imagine seeing a doctor or going to the hospital, chances are you are visualizing traditional medicine. This kind of medicine relies on treating a specific symptom with a pill or a shot. This can work very well when dealing with serious and often life-threatening trauma or massive failures such as a heart attack. On the other hand, traditional medicine often misses the boat when it comes to treating complex or subtle health issues.

A branch of medicine that addresses the subtleties of the body is complementary and alternative medicine, also known as CAM. This type of medicine incorporates a holistic approach, treating the patient in mind, body, and spirit. CAM uses many kinds of therapeutic techniques, such as yoga, homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture to help manage pain and stress in chronically ill patients. On the other hand, CAM may not be enough to treat all diseases.

Fortunately, physicians are no longer seeing medicine in black and white terms. Many physicians now blend both traditional and CAM therapy in a type of medicine known as integrative medicine. In this approach, a physician may opt for traditional medicine, such as going forward with a surgical procedure but will use elements of CAM, such as acupuncture, for pain management. This blends the best of both types of medicine, giving the patient the best possible treatment for his or her illness.

Over the past decade or so, integrative medicine has gained in popularity and acceptance among physicians across the United States. Even hospitals are using elements of integrative medicine as part of their routine treatments; for example, many use acupuncture to help in post-surgical pain management. If you are considering integrative medicine, but need to know more, call a physician who specializes in this type of therapy today.

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