Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Works?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Works?

Physical therapists understand that patients don’t always need pills to get relief. Healing and relaxation are often the result of complementary and alternative medicine. When coupled with approved treatments, alternative medicine like yoga is becoming more mainstream. Think of this blog post as a refresher course on complementary and alternative medicine. While the “cupping craze” might be a passing fad, the following alternative medicine staples are here to stay.

Complementary and alternative medicine meditation

Different Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Which forms of alternative medicine have you recommended? This blog will explore several popular practices that keep becoming more mainstream. If you’re a PT, you can recommend them to your patients and try them out for yourself!

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Yoga & Tai Chi

Yoga is like physical therapy’s more laid-back cousin. It’s been around since 300 B.C. and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon! It continues to evolve and reshape into a variety of forms, including Vinyasa and Bikram, just to name a few. You perform different poses using a yoga mat while focusing on controlled breathing.

Did you know? About 36 million Americans practice yoga! This number has increased by over 50 percent in the last four years alone.

New crazes like “hot yoga” have emerged within the past few years. Yoga performed in hot and humid conditions helps to burn fat during sessions. This is a great way for your former patients to remain limber. Encourage them to stretch out previous injuries while still getting a workout.

Complementary and alternative medicine yoga

Originally practiced in Buddhist monasteries, the martial art known as tai chi is more mainstream now, too! It can range from a practice focused on relaxation, to a more intense practice focusing on self-defense. Similar to yoga, a variety of “poses” are performed, usually while standing. The participant focuses on steady breathing while remaining in the same pose for a set amount of time. Some people might opt for a more vigorous form of tai chi, where they’ll use sudden bursts of speed and power. This is a great form of alternative medicine to accompany your patient’s physical therapy. 

Acupuncture & Massage Therapy

While many shudder at the thought of being poked by dozens of needles, hospitals still talk about the health benefits of acupuncture. But what does acupuncture do exactly? It is believed to stimulate the central nervous system, contributing to improved physical and emotional wellness. It can provide pain relief for back, neck, and knee discomfort. Some people swear by it, and even use it on a monthly basis! If your patients are still suffering from pain, consider suggesting this form of alternative medicine to help them. They’ll never really know if acupuncture works for them until they try it! 

Complementary and alternative medicine massage

A massage from a trained professional can also do wonders! Suggest a professional massage 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 session, 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 by a healthcare professional is the best and sometimes the only viable option. However, if pain persists or you feel like you’ve become dependent on medication, these alternative medicine options might be the perfect solution.

Do you agree that types of complementary and alternative medicine can help your patients feel better? What improvements have you seen? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Amy Mastrangelo

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