This Trend Can Be a Friend to Your Health

Moose Jaw - - News - By Dr. Steven Hei­dinger, Moose Jaw Chi­ro­prac­tor

If you have not used some sort of al­ter­na­tive or com­ple­men­tary medicine (CAM) in past few years, con­sider your­self part of a mi­nor­ity. Ac­cord­ing to the Fraser In­sti­tute, 79 per­cent of Cana­di­ans (in 2016) re­ported us­ing at least one form of CAM, such as chi­ro­prac­tic, mas­sage ther­apy, acupunc­ture or natur­opa­thy, or taken some form of vi­ta­min or herbal ther­apy at some time in their lives. This num­ber is trend­ing up­ward in the last nearly 20 years, as the num­ber of Cana­di­ans ad­mit­ting to us­ing al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies was re­ported to be at 73% in 1997.

While an ex­tra 6 per­cent doesn’t sound like much of an in­crease, it ac­tu­ally equates to an in­crease of over 2 mil­lion Cana­di­ans utiliz­ing non-tra­di­tion means in an at­tempt to im­prove their health. In a 12-month pe­riod from 2015 to 2016, Cana­di­ans spent ap­prox­i­mately $8.8 bil­lion on CAM, with the ma­jor­ity of that money spent on providers.

Here are 5 rea­sons why I believe CAM use in Canada is trend­ing up­wards, and will likely con­tinue this way:

1. Faster ac­cess than see­ing fam­ily physi­cians. Up to 15 per­cent of Cana­di­ans do not have a reg­u­lar fam­ily med­i­cal doc­tor and too of­ten, Cana­di­ans who do have a doc­tor, find it dif­fi­cult to see him or her in timely fashion. Pa­tients of­ten will seek al­ter­na­tives to tra­di­tional medicine if they can be seen sooner.

2. Work ben­e­fits in­clude many CAM ther­a­pies. In­sur­ance com­pa­nies and em­ploy­ers are of­fer­ing ben­e­fits pack­ages to their em­ploy­ees that have coverage for vis­its to chi­ro­prac­tors, mas­sage ther­a­pist, natur­o­pathic doc­tors and acupunc­tur­ists.

3. Many pa­tients may be wary about med­i­ca­tions and their po­ten­tial side-ef­fects. While the med­i­cal sys­tem has been try­ing to re­duce Cana­di­ans’ de­pen­dency on po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous med­i­ca­tions, there still ex­ists an opi­oid cri­sis in Canada. CAM of­fers sci­en­tif­i­cally val­i­dated al­ter­na­tives for pain man­age­ment. These ev­i­dence-sup­ported al­ter­na­tives are of­ten more ef­fec­tive and safer than pre­scrip­tion and over-the-counter drugs.

4. Pos­i­tive in­flu­ence of in­ter­net and so­cial me­dia. In our clinic we ask our new pa­tients how they found out about us and why they chose chi­ro­prac­tic. Many in­di­cate they were pos­i­tively in­flu­enced by their Google searches for al­ter­na­tives to tra­di­tional medicine.

5. Med­i­cal doc­tors are re­fer­ring more of their pa­tients for CAM ther­apy. It was not ter­ri­bly long ago that the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (AMA) lost an anti-trust law­suit claim­ing that they were at­tempt­ing to un­der­mine and pos­si­bly de­stroy the chi­ro­prac­tic pro­fes­sion. In 1987, a US Fed­eral judge ruled that the AMA acted un­fairly in pre­vent­ing its mem­bers from rec­om­mend­ing chi­ro­prac­tic ser­vices. To­day, many chi­ro­prac­tors are en­gaged in multi-dis­ci­plinary health teams where med­i­cal doc­tors and chi­ro­prac­tors work along­side each other for the ben­e­fit of the pa­tient. Chi­ro­prac­tors, mas­sage ther­a­pists and acupunc­tur­ists are in­cluded in the re­fer­ral net­work of many Cana­dian fam­ily doc­tors.

There is a phrase of­ten used in the world of in­vest­ing, “The trend is your friend…”. In the realm of health care and health promotion, with the di­rec­tion that CAM is tak­ing, al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies may not be con­sid­ered so “al­ter­na­tive” any­more.

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