36 percent of Americans are using complementary and alternative medicines

A new, comprehensive government survey, released by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), reveals that 36 percent of Americans are incorporating complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) into their health care regimen.

Many of these patients have utilized CAM to help in treating back pain, neck pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. According to the survey, nearly 28% of respondents indicated they chose to seek CAM therapies because they believed that conventional medicine would not help their health care problem.

The survey showed that chiropractic patients seem to have even less confidence in traditional medical care than others who had sought CAM therapies, as nearly 40% of chiropractic patients indicated they felt conventional medicine could not help their condition. Perhaps helping to explain this high percentage, Dr. Richard Nahim, NCCAM's senior advisor for scientific coordination and outreach, suggested yesterday during a media briefing announcing the results of the survey that back pain, in particular, is not easily treated by conventional medicine. "It may be the public is turning to complementary and alternative medicine because it's not getting relief from conventional medicine," said Dr. Nahim. Chiropractic care was the most highly sought manipulative and body-based therapy included in the survey. In fact, two-thirds of all patients who sought care from a licensed CAM provider visited a doctor of chiropractic.

This rate of utilization, coupled with promising scientific research published in recent years, has actually vaulted chiropractic care out of the realm of CAM and into mainstream health care, in the eyes of some. A landmark scientific endorsement of chiropractic took place in 1994, when the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommended spinal manipulation -- the primary form of treatment performed by doctors of chiropractic -- as an initial form of therapy for low-back pain sufferers, finding it both "safe and effective."

The statement by AHCPR was based on its scientific review of all the accumulated evidence on spinal manipulation. More recently, a study published in the July 15, 2003, edition of the medical journal Spine found that manual manipulation provides better short- term relief of chronic spinal pain than does a variety of medications. And a March 2004 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic care is more effective than medical care at treating chronic low-back pain in patients' first year of symptoms. "This new CAM survey is promising," said American Chiropractic Association President Donald Krippendorf, DC. "For years, the ACA has advocated restraint against the use of excessive drugs and unnecessary surgeries, as safer, more conservative, and more effective options exist."

To learn more about chiropractic care, or to locate doctor of chiropractic near you, visit ACA's Web site at http://www.acatoday.com

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