Alternative Medicine: What Works?

Every physical therapist knows that when it comes to alternative medicine, physical therapy is better than any chemical concoction. Physical therapists are able to provide healing, relaxation, and relief with the out any pills, shots, or other forms of medication. While PT is a great form of alternative medicine, it’s time for a refresher on some other forms of alternative medicine. While the “cupping craze” might be a passing fad, these alternative medicine staples are here to stay.


            Almost like physical therapy’s more laid-back cousin, Yoga has been around since 300 B.C. and continues to evolve and reshape into a variety of forms. Used with a Yoga mat, you perform a “poses” while focusing on controlled breathing. 36.7 million Americans or 15% of US adults practice yoga in the US, up from 20 million in 2012. New crazes like “hot yoga” have emerged within the past few years, which is yoga performed in hot and humid conditions designed to maximize the amount of fat burned during the session. This is a great way for your former patients to remain limber, stretching out previous injuries while still getting a workout.

Tai Chi

            Originally practiced in Buddhist monasteries, the martial art known as tai chi can range from a practice focused on relaxation, to a more intense form focusing on self-defense. Similar to Yoga, a variety of “poses” are performed, usually while standing, and the participant is supposed to focus on steady breathing while remaining in the same pose for a set amount of time. Others will opt for a more vigorous form of tai chi, where participants use sudden bursts of speed and power to perform moves. This is a great form of alternative medicine to accompany your patient’s physical therapy. 


            While many shudder at the thought of being poked by dozens of needles, studies show that acupuncture has numerous health benefits and many use it on a monthly basis. Many will use it as a form of pain relief for back, neck and knee discomfort. National Health Statistics report that over 3 million people will use acupuncture. If patients still suffer from pain as physical therapy, trying this alternative medicine might relieve some of that pain.

Massage Therapy

            A massage from a trained professional can do wonders for those suffering from stiff joints, or even just stress. Whether it’s at a therapist’s office, a spa, or a home visit, many are opting for a relaxing massage as alternative medicine as a way to reduce pain and stress. After an especially grueling physical therapy, a massage could be exactly what your patient needs.

When is Alternative Medicine the Best Option?

            In no way are we condoning a complete replacement of traditional medicine – in fact, in many cases, medicine prescribed a healthcare professional is the best and sometimes the only viable option. However, if pain persists for you feel like you’ve become dependent on medication, these alternative medicine options might be the perfect solution.

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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