“Alternative health care” refers to care that’s different from traditional medicine. Alternative health care includes a wide variety of options such as acupuncture, Rolfing, yoga, naturopathic or homeopathic care, reflexology, visualization, and methods of relaxation.
Medical care in the United States is based on the idea that there is a cause for physical disease that can be explained by science or biology. The disease or condition can be treated and sometimes even cured. Traditional medicine is meant to rescue us from death or disease with the latest technology, therapy, or medication.
Alternative care is based on different cultural attitudes about health and healing. Most alternative approaches come from the idea that the mind and body can’t be separated. In this line of thinking, imbalances in the mind-body system allow diseases or disorders to begin. Instead of trying to find and treat symptoms, alternative care tries to restore the mind-body balance. This is thought to encourage the body to heal itself.
Chiropractic and massage are the two most popular kinds of alternative care. The number of people seeking chiropractic care has been steadily increasing. The number of chiropractors in practice has tripled in the last 30 years and is still on the rise.
Researchers surveyed over 1,000 patients from six different regions in the U.S. to find out who sees chiropractors and why. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that most chiropractic care is for neck and back pain. More than half of chiropractic patients are white, married women with good educations and middle-class incomes. Interestingly, chiropractic patients have poorer mental health and more depression than back patients who see medical doctors. Chiropractic patients also have more pain and poorer physical health than the general population.
Chiropractic care is most often the treatment choice of white, middle-class women who are depressed. What’s the link between choosing chiropractic and mental health? Researchers aren’t sure. It may be that chiropractic care is more open to mental or emotional problems. The high level of education of these patients suggests that they knowingly choose chiropractic over medical care. Users of chiropractic care are more likely to share an attitude toward health that is different from traditional medicine.