There is a big difference between traditional and alternative medicine, but the goals are the same. Both styles of medical care are aimed at treating and preventing illness using very different practices and methods. These days more and more people are advocating for a combination of both practices to achieve a more balanced level of health care, though. Following is an explanation of the differences between traditional and alternative medicine.
Traditional medicine is what doctors and other health practitioners at clinics, hospitals and primary care facilities practice in the United States and other Western countries. This style of medicine includes annual doctor's visits and treatment of ailments using drugs, medical procedures and surgical operations. There is more of a focus on treatment rather than prevention, although this is starting to change.
It uses a more natural, holistic approach to healing. There are many Chinese medicine techniques used in it, and most of the approaches are focused more on maintaining health and preventing health problems rather than treating ailments. Methods such as acupuncture, massage and chiropractic do focus on treating various conditions that cause pain, though, so there are alternative medicine methods that are used for treatment as well as for prevention.
The biggest differences between traditional and alternative medicine have to do with the approach to treating a problem. While a patient with a cough would go to a traditional doctor and be advised to take a cough suppressant, for example, an alternative medicine practitioner might look into the underlying causes of the cough and help prevent it from coming back again. Treatments such as acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic care, diet, exercise, herbal remedies, massage, meditation and yoga are popular in alternative medicine. Traditional medicine practitioners focus on drugs as well as diet, exercise, surgical procedures and prevention by quitting smoking and ending other bad health habits.
More and more people are choosing to combine alternative and traditional medicine to maintain their health and treat their ailments. With more people demanding alternative medicine in the Western healthcare market, it is sure to become more accepted and readily available in the United States.