TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS:
There is no magical "cure" for Ankylosing Spondylitis, due to its genetic association. However, many patients have managed to maintain a symptom-free, or mostly symptom-free, state of remission for many years by carefully modifying their diet and sometimes combining this with conventional and/or complimentary treatments.
Conventional and complimentary treatments are used with the goal of maximizing quality of life, easing, preventing or eliminating symptoms, preventing complications, and restoring and maintaining function.
Education is very critical so that you can explore all the options available, the associated risks that may or may not be involved with each option, how effective these options are, and then make informed decisions in the end. You must be your own detective.
Here we will discuss the differences between Conventional and Complimentary treatments for Ankylosing Spondylitis, what Functional Medical Doctors are, and what options are available under the the different umbrellas of "Conventional" and "Complimentary" treatment modes.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONVENTIONAL & COMPLIMENTARY MEDICINE?
Complimentary and natural treatments involve practices and products that are considered outside of "orthodox" medicine in the United States. When a natural therapy is used alongside some type of conventional treatment, then it is considered "complimentary" because the two work together. Sometimes, natural treatments are used as the primary and only therapy. In that case, it would not be considered "complimentary", but rather "alternative".
It is important to understand that just because complimentary and natural treatments are outside of orthodox conventional medicine, this does NOT mean they are NOT based on science.
For example, the use of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, fish oil, exercise and diet modification are considered "Complimentary" treatments. Prescriptions are not necessary for these practices and products. Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry and the medical community do not profit directly from their use. This establishes them as "Complimentary". Yet, there have been many scientific studies that confirm their benefit and effectiveness. Sometimes, these approaches are even proven to be more effective than known medications, yet without the side effects often associated with drugs.
Again, education here is critical. Just as in any industry, unscrupulous individuals (or perhaps even well meaning ones) have made erroneous claims about practices and products that are classified as "Complimentary", without the scientific evidence to prove their validity. The science behind any possible product, or adoption of any practice, whether it be a diet modification or an exercise program, must be examined before choosing to adopt it.
Really, the same is true with Conventional practices and medications. Just because something is commonly prescribed does not mean that it is without serious side effects and will not cause harm or fail to work. Again, education is crucial and the science behind the recommendation does need to be closely evaluated, as well as looking at the long term effects of engaging in the practice or taking the drug.
Keep in mind that most conventional doctors are not trained or educated on the full spectrum of complimentary treatment options, with very few exceptions. There is a good chance, then, that they will not be familiar with the science behind them. However, they are very well versed in conventional medications on the market that can be prescribed and sold. In fact, this is their model of care. They are trained to diagnose a disease, and then match that disease with a corresponding drug. This method can work well in situations such as infections, emergencies or acute illness. How grateful we are for the medical expertise of surgeons and other specialists who can save our lives during periods of crisis. However, conventional medicine can often fall short when dealing with chronic and complex conditions, such as autoimmune diseases.
Doctors receive ongoing visits from pharmaceutical representatives throughout their career as new medications become available on the market. Therefore, they are likely to always recommend a course of treatment that involves these medications, even if a better option is available in the field of complimentary treatments, because they are not familiar with them and are not familiar with the scientific evidence behind them. Thus, you MUST be your own advocate and take the time to do your own research.
There is one noteworthy exception to the doctor phenomenon described above, and that is Functional Medicine Doctors. These medical doctors, while having attended conventional medical school and being completely educated in conventional Western treatments and approaches have ALSO taken the additional training as specialists in the growing field of Functional Medicine. What is "Functional Medicine"?
Click on the button below to learn more about these Doctors, how they can help you, and how to find one.