Therapies like acupuncture, massage therapy, biofeedback and many others are often referred to as "alternative" therapies, and have been for years. Recently, there's been a movement toward referring to them instead as "complementary" therapies. This choice of words may not seem like a big deal, but there is, indeed, a big difference.
"Alternative" therapy implies a complete replacement of more traditional approaches, such as medication or surgery. "Complementary" therapy implies an addition to these more traditional approaches.
A perfect example of this is the difference between the two acupuncturists I've seen. With the first, Dr W, I was pushed toward accepting acupuncture as an alternative therapy, as the only treatment. Instead of preventive medication to treat my Migraines, I would use acupuncture. I saw Dr W for two months, and by the end when I saw a decrease in effectiveness, she insisted it was the fault of the medication. "I can't treat the side effects," she would tell me, "so I can't help you if you stay on these drugs." This disagreement eventually became a big part of why I chose to quit acupuncture.
I quit acupuncture in January of this year, and since then, trialed a number of preventive meds, as well as Botox, and I still wasn't achieving the success in treatment I wanted. This led to me once again seeking a more holistic approach when I saw Dr P last month.
The acupuncturist Dr P referred me to, P, sees acupuncture as a complementary therapy. She has no problem with me taking medications. (Ironic, since the only daily drug I take is Zyrtec for my allergies. Everything else is either daily supplements or as-needed medication.) P also understands that for me, Migraine is a very genetic condition - my mother and sister both are Migraineurs, and we suspect my mom's sisters and mother also suffered from Migraine. With that kind of genetic history, a "cure" from just acupuncture is not feasible. Dr W didn't understand this, or didn't agree with it. P understands that acupuncture alone will not work, and adding supplements, massage therapy, Nia dance and medication is much more likely to be successful.
I am a big proponent of complementary therapies. I think they can and do help treat difficult chronic conditions. However, for most people - especially those with complicated cases - complementary therapy will not be enough on its own (as alternative therapy), but will work as part of a larger, holistic treatment regimen. The same way one medication intervention is also unlikely to work for the difficult cases, one complementary therapy is unlikely to work. Holistic - complementary - is key.
In case you haven't noticed from my increased posting, I am already starting to feel better. My head pain hasn't necessarily changed much, though I have had a few low-pain days where I had none before. I do have more energy. Not a huge amount, but enough that I've noticed and it makes a difference. I feel like my body is absorbing the new supplements better than the ones I took before, which is good, because I'm swallowing upward of 20 pills a day. I'm having some mild side effects from both the Petadolex and CoQ10, but they seem to be dissipating (only reappearing when I've increased the dosage). I've yet to start the Nia dance, but I have a few options for classes that I will be trying the next week or so.
While I am hoping for continued success with my new treatment regimen, I also realize it's likely I will have to add another preventive medication (specifically, a prescription drug) to my regimen in the future. I'm okay with that. Hopefully, the treatment I'm trying now will mean I need less prescription medication intervention in the future.
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