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What You Need to Know About Integrated Medicine

Integrated medicine is gaining ground as the go-to treatment for many conditions. Much as it sounds, integrated medicine combines, or integrates, multiple methodologies to produce more successful outcomes.

It's not unusual for integrated medicine to make use of more holistic and alternative therapies like chiropractic, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and more to treat a single patient.

Spokes in the Umbrella of Integrated Medicine

When you see a practitioner who specializes in integrated medicine, you may find yourself being treated by a variety of professionals. Your doctor may refer you for multiple services including:

  • Massage therapy
  • Naturopathy
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Weight loss management
  • Mental health counseling
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Hypnotherapy

Integrated medicine includes an exhaustive list of resources and treatment methods that aid in treating a variety of medical conditions that range from mild to severe.

For example, if you've recently received a diagnosis of cancer, your oncologist may also refer you to a mental health counselor to help you better manage your stress and emotions.

Similarly, someone who struggles with diabetes may need to see an endocrinologist, a vision specialist, and a nutritionist to more effectively manage their condition.

With the development of the integrative approach, treatment no longer exists in a vacuum. This means, when you become ill, you may receive treatment from a team of medical professionals instead of a single provider.

The Benefits of an Integrative Approach

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There's a lot your primary care provider can do to help heal your condition or improve the way you manage your symptoms. But generally, a PCP is not a specialist. For this reason, they will usually refer you to someone else when you need specialized care.

This could include a cardiologist if you have a heart condition or an orthopedist if you have a broken bone. Additionally, more and more medical professionals are acknowledging the importance of caring for the mind and body as a whole. This means your PCP may be just as likely to refer you to a specialist in therapeutic massage or chiropractic care to improve your overall health and outlook. The benefits of combining these multiple resources include:

  • Faster recovery times
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Reduced medical expenses
  • More successful outcomes
  • More opportunity for patient education
  • Lower levels of patient stress

By making use of existing resources, your primary care provider can work in consultation with various other medical professionals to help you manage your condition more successfully.

Principles of Integrated Medicine

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The defining principles of integrated medicine focus on treating the patient as a whole person. This means it addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual needs of the patient, instead of simply treating the symptoms of the disease. Ideally, the principles involved include:

  • Building a partnership between patients and providers
  • Addressing all categories of a patient's health, including physical, mental, and emotional
  • Use of both traditional medicine and other forms of therapy to promote healing
  • Focus on the most non-invasive forms of treatment
  • Treatment is evidence-based or based on science and research

Integrated medicine requires an open mind and a willingness to embrace new methodologies and treatments. It addressed the symptoms of disease and illness while also helping the patient improve their mental and emotional perspectives.

Examples of Integrated Medicine

Possibly one of the best examples of integrated medicine is used in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Patients are physically detoxed from a chemical substance. In the process, they may or may not be given replacement medications.

But once detox is complete, patients enter programs of care that combine behavioral therapy with other forms of treatment. It's not unusual for someone in recovery from addiction to see a fitness trainer, nutritionist, art therapist, or massage therapist.

They may work out stressful emotions by spending time with horses or may build trust in others by participating in wilderness activities  — all while keeping regular appointments with a doctor or nurse.

Fortunately, the principles of recovery that work so well in the treatment of addiction are easily adapted to treat other medical conditions. And if your doctor suddenly recommends chiropractic care for your chronic lower back pain, don't be surprised. It's all done in the name of integrated medicine, and its purpose is to give you the best option for a more successful recovery.

If you're interested in adding chiropractic care to your existing treatment regimen, it can be a great alternative to more traditional methods of care and benefit your overall health and wellness.

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