An Overview of Integrative Medicine

Medicine seemed a lot simpler when I was in my twenties. When I felt sick, I would go to urgent care for a diagnosis and prescription and in a couple days to a week I would feel all better. The medical world has made incredible developments in the past twenty years. We have more options than ever before which is a wonderful and sometimes overwhelming thing. As a health care practitioner, it excites me to have exposure to so much new information and opportunities to help my clients get the care they need so they can live the lives they want. Anna, Kyle and I consider ourselves health advocates. We keep up with our training and observations so that we can let you know if we notice something that might be worth checking into. Part of that is understanding the variety of available treatment options so that we can explain and refer appropriately.

Many times we make recommendations for integrative care options like chiropractic, functional medicine, health coaching, massage or physical therapy and our clients haven’t had experience with these approaches or don’t understand what the goal is. Understanding the goal can sometimes make a night and day difference in treatment choices and ultimately quality of life for our clients.

What is integrative care? – Integrative care has had many different names over the decades. It has been referred to as complementary medicine, alternative medicine and the latest nomenclature is integrative care. Bottom line is that it’s the type of care that you get in addition to the standard diagnosis and prescription medicine most of us are used to. The goal with integrative care is for each approach to work together to heal the person so that the body is better able to do the work it needs to in order to stay healthy.

What is chiropractic care? – Chiropractors mainly focus on two things: spinal alignment and nerve function. All of our nerves, even the teeny tiny ones in our fingers and toes branch off of the spinal cord. If our spine is out of alignment, it can impact nerve function and cause pain and dysfunction. Chiropractors use a variety of techniques and tools to keep the spine and bones aligned and nerves functioning properly; some incorporate nutrition and other specialties. All of the treatment options are designed to keep our nerves in tip top shape so they can effectively pass messages between the body and the brain.

What is functional medicine? – Functional medicine looks at how the body systems are working in order to develop the diagnosis and treatment. Traditional medicine tends to focus more on symptom management whereas functional medicine zeros in on the cause of the presenting complaint with the intent that addressing the root cause will also address the symptom. The body is an incredible set of self regulating systems. The respiratory system impacts the circulatory system which impacts the urinary system and all of it can be impacted by and with hormones and other neurotransmitters. Functional medicine looks at all of this to consider the body as a whole.

What is health coaching? – I have learned a lot about health coaching as Anna has moved through the process of becoming a certified health and life coach. A health coach is essentially your very own health advocate. They will sit down with you and help you figure out your health goals and work with you to develop a plan of how to get there. During their training they learn a lot about nutrition because what we put into our bodies has a major impact on how our bodies operate. Many times some of the symptoms we experience can be successfully managed by looking at our daily meal plan and making a few adjustments. Health coaches empower you to take an active role in your own health and can also make recommendations for treatment options if your goals are best met by another health care practitioner. They give you direction, support, accountability, and a kick in the tush depending on where you are at.

What is massage therapy? – We use our bodies and minds a lot, but we don’t often think about how we use them and the impact it has on our overall health. Millions of people across the country suffer from musculoskeletal pain and as people are starting to turn away from prescribed pain medications, massage is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective pain management option. Massage for relaxation purposes is also gaining popularity in the medical world as practitioners learn more about the impact mental health has on general health and chronic conditions. Massage manually rehabilitates tight tissues to reduce the pull on joints and restrictions on nerves. It also impacts the production of hormones which can counteract many aspects of chronic stress.

What is physical therapy? – During a massage the therapist can often identify compensation patterns and structural dysfunctions that can contribute to pain, restricted range of motion and injury. We can address some of those things over the course of regular massage, but physical therapists have specialized training to determine what specific muscles are causing the symptoms and can prescribe specific stretches and exercises to rehabilitate the tissues and retrain the way you move in order to correct current issues and prevent future injuries. Physical therapists are often consulted before a patient is referred for surgery because sometimes muscles and soft tissues can be treated without surgical means.

It is an amazing time to be in the health care industry. We are able to learn more and do more than ever before and the most exciting part of it is there are so many practitioners who are willing to work together for the health of their clients. We are proud and fortunate to be included in that group and encourage you to ask questions of us and of everyone you rely on to keep you healthy. As amazing as the medical world is, you are the key aspect to your health and it’s by working together that we will achieve the most benefit.

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