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Brian Fay
10-26-1998, 12:00 AM
The endless debate over the value of alternatives therapies...

I can provide personall testimony to the effectiveness of a particular
chiropractic treatment...my brother bumped his head on a train which bent
his neck in an odd position. He experienced extreme pain, his MD
prescribed Flexoril (muscle relaxant) and recommended moist heat on the
neck. This regimine did not improve the condition. At this point, a
chiropractor was consulted. Two X-Rays of the neck showed some kind of
mispositioning of the cervical vertebrae. After one manipulation
treatment, the pain greatly deminished and was gone after a week.

This testimonial, however, demonstrates the inherant conflict between the
practices in that often alternative therapies are sought by people with
uncommon medical conditions. Many people will assert their paticular
condition was improved via an alternative therapy, but since the condition
is uncommon, there is not enough people with the particular condition to
conduct clinical investigations with appropriate statistical analysis.
This causes mainstream groups such as the AMA to doubt the value of
alternative therapies. Unfortunately, groups such as the AMA have nothing
to offer persons with uncommon medical conditions.

Thus, I would point out:
(1) Western alopathic medicine is very good at treating conditions which
conform to a scientific model and can be verified statistically.
(2) Alternative therapies often develop a niche of patients with similar
conditions that have a variety of sources. Often these conditions
cannot be grouped into scientific studies.
(3) Medicine, in any form, is an art. A good doctor or practitioner
usually has a unique ability to integrate the patient's symptoms and
any complementary information into a treatment program.

Personally, I have consulted alternative therapies. I applied the same
ideas as when I see a regular MD:
(1) take someone with you that you trust...this will give you a reference
in case you hear something wrong;
(2) ask the practicioner to clarify explanations that you or your friend
do not understand;
(3) if your condition does not improve within a reasonable amount of time,
discuss it with the practitioner...it may be time to pursue a
different course of treatment.


Brian T. Fay, M.S.

University of Pittsburgh
School of Health & Rehabilitation Science
Dept of Rehabilitation Science & Technology
5044 Forbes Tower
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
phone: 412/647-1270
fax: 412/647-1277
e-mail: bfay+@pitt.edu

VA Pittsburgh Health Care System
7180 Highland Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
phone: 412/365-4850
fax: 412/365-4858

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