Dr. Young continues to oversee Patricia’s medical care and medications, although she rarely needs her pain medication prescription. When Patricia does need pain meds due to a weather-related flare or in the evening after a full day of activity, she only needs to take one-fourth her previous dosage.

Patricia believes the two treatments complement each other. “I’ve been able to reduce my medications, and my good days now far outnumber my bad days. I’m pleased to have a team of health care professionals who have the vision to work together to combine traditional and alternative therapies so I’m able to combine options that work for me.”

What to Expect at an Alternative Clinic

In the United States, integrative clinics are often affiliated with teaching hospitals, such as Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, NC, or the University of California’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in San Francisco.

Appointment times at integrative clinics usually are longer, giving patients more time with the doctor. However, because of longer visits, integrative care doctors see fewer patients per day, so it may take weeks or months to get in. Insurance coverage varies. Although initial visits often are covered, some of the recommended alternative methods are not.

Typically, integrative clinic physicians are MDs trained in integrative medicine, with additional practitioners such as acupuncturists, massage therapists and nutritionists on staff. Check to see that the doctor at the integrative clinic is board-certified in a field such as rheumatology.

If you live in a rural area, you can tailor your own integrative care by supplementing your primary doctor’s care with practitioners of mind, spirit, nutrition and stress management. It may not be as convenient as having integrative practitioners housed at one site, but you will reap the benefits of integrative care.