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I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blurring the Line Between Science-based Medicine and Alternative Medicine.

This post at Skeptic blog reminded me of a time when I visited a physiotherapist regarding some pain I was experiencing in my hip after training for a few months to participate in my first distance run. After a physical examination, I was informed that my left hip had rotated forward. The therapist took our a picture of the anatomy of the muscles and bones of the pelvis and explained in detail how the hip was positioned, how it affected the connecting tissue and muscle, and explained how it was causing me so much pain. He then performed a quick adjustment to my left hip, I actually heard my hip click back into place and felt immediate relief. The next thing my therapist said was that the muscle would be sore for a few days, and if I wanted to relieve the pressure, he could massage it - which would take a few sessions - or he would use acupuncture to relieve the soreness, and that could be done in one session. So I asked him if he was qualified to perform acupuncture, which he was, and then submitted to the treatment.

Now, I had been walking and running around on that hip for almost a year - thinking it was a muscle strain that would just heal itself in time. The relief I felt after my visit to the physiotherapist was exquisite and for awhile I credited both the adjustment and the acupuncture for my relief. Awhile later I came across some unflattering science that showed that acupuncture didn't do much besides provide a placebo effect on most patients - so I started wondering if perhaps the acupuncture didn't do what I thought it had done. Perhaps my relief would have been just as good with just the hip adjustment?

Sure enough about 2 years later, my hip rotated again while running. I decided to not suffer and went right to a physiotherapist for treatment. They did the same adjustment to my hip - without the acupuncture - and the relief was just as welcome and effective. This just goes to show - as outlined so well in the blog post over at skeptic blog - that us regular folk can be easily fooled into believing an alternative treatment works when it was really the science-based treatment that deserves all the credit.

In a country like Canada where we have public health care, we need to ensure that our tax dollars are paying for science-based medical treatments and not squander our shared resources on alternative treatments that have not stood up to the rigorous standards and testing that science-based medical treatments have.

1 comment:

  1. ok. now you've done it! don't mess with my accupuncture! :oP i have had accupuncture do great things (all by itself) and had it not help at all. my jury is still out.

    but i get your point. my only counter-point is that sometimes we need to address the psychological issues as well as the science-based aspects and good mental well-being is a crucial component of overall health. (i know you know that ... so, i am not trying to be difficult).


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