Think Outside Of The Box Pt 1. || Day 5

photo by permission,

Today is Day 5 of 31 Day Of Surviving Chronic Illness.  You can catch up on Day 1 here.

We tend to think of healthcare only in terms of our HMO or PPO, the local Urgent Care or our General Practitioner (GP), but there are so many other options and when you find yourself dealing with chronic illness or mystery infirmity it’s important to explore these other avenues of wellness.

Below is a list of some of the more traditional doctors, nurses, therapists and clinicians I have come across in the past decade. If you are  having trouble getting the medical care you need, try adding a few of these specialists to your health-care team:


These doctors & clinicians are easy to find and are covered by most insurance plans:

  • MD (Medical Doctor)- Most family doctors are MD’s and there are some wonderful, caring & intelligent MD’s out there. However, sometimes MD’s can be super-focused on lab results and test numbers so if you fall into a sub-clinical category they may not catch it or be willing to pursue other possible causes,  For example, thyroid disease runs in my family and when I started exhibiting signs of hypothyroidism in my late 20’s I requested labwork.  My labwork showed that my thyroid hormones were just 1 point away from being officially classified as hypothyroid. Because technically it still fell within normal my MD did not at first consider that I might have thyroid disease.  But because he was an excellent MD, he later changed his mind and got me on a medication regime that made a huge difference in my overall health.  Not all MD's are the same so if yours is not helping you get better, it might be time to try a new one or another type of physician.

  • DO (Doctor of Osteopathy)- You may have seen these initials after a doctor’s name and wondered what they mean.  DO stands for “doctor of osteopathy” and refers to the type of training they receive after attending medical school.  All aspiring doctors attend medical school, graduate, then test to become licensed to practice medicine, but it is at this point they they continue their education to become an MD, DO or some other specialty. A DO will go on to receive an education with a greater emphasis in whole body wellness. “ D.O.s often address medical conditions from both a medical and lifestyle perspective. D.O.s place an emphasis on getting to know a patient’s lifestyle, family and unique concerns, which better informs their medical treatments.”  DO’s will often have a lot of training and experience in allergies, hormones, chiropractics, sports medicine and other treatments.

  • PA (Physicians Assistant) or NP (Nurse Practitioner)- The major difference between a PA/NP & and MD is that an MD does a specialty residency program after completing their 4 years of medical school; PA’s and NP’s each complete their respective educational programs but not a traditional residency program. But don’t let that deter you from trying a PA or NP! There are many complex reasons for a student to pursue a PA/NP license instead of MD but among those reasons are that PA/NP schooling is less expensive, a PA/NP will get into the job market sooner (read: make money faster) and forgo the administrative stresses of being a full fledged MD.  PA’s/NP’s must work under the supervision of a doctor, but often have a less strained schedule and in some cases are more thorough when taking a  health history of a new patient.  They do have some limitations but don’t don’t rule out a care professional just because you see “PA” or “NP” after their name.

  • Chiropractor (or DC)- While I have benefited (most of my life) from good, old fashioned chiropractics, most people do not realize that Chiropractors are not just “bone crackers”.  Chiropractors, like DO’s, are often trained in other treatment options:

    • Active Release Technique (A.R.T) is a newer treatment that is used by some chiropractors as well as physical therapists and sport medicine specialists.  It focuses on  soft tissue manipulation of tendons, muscles and ligaments that can loosen scar tissue, gently stretch tight muscles and re-oxygenate the treatment area.  If you suffer from chronic pain you might give A.R.T. a try.

    • Many chiropractors offer massage from a licensed massage therapist as part of treatment and get this: massage treatment through your chiropractor can often be billed to insurance.

    • Chiropractors (as well as other physicians) often have special dietary/nutritional/weight loss programs.  They can counsel you through subjects such as macro-nutrition, detoxing, customize an eating plan and more.

  • Internal Medicine (or IM)- internal medicine doctors are specialized in the “ management of patients who have undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes.” In other words, they are the sleuths of the medical world.  If your MD is stumped, try seeing a Doctor of Internal Medicine.

  • Endocrinologist (or END)- they specialize in hormones and regulating them. However, they usually specialize in just diabetes and thyroid problems.  If you are having sex hormone problems (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc.) you may have to seek out an endocrinologist or other physician who specializes in those specific hormones.

  • Allergen Specialist (or AI)- Seasonal allergies as well as food allergies/intolerances can wreak havoc on your body.  If you just can’t get rid of that “tired” feeling, you might consider specialized allergy testing.

  • Licensed Nutritionist or NTR)- If you have never received training in general nutrition or or struggling with cravings such as sugar, taking a few training sessions with a licensed nutritionist can set you on a great path to healthy eating.

  • Physical Therapist (or PT)- A good physical therapist can help you develop a fitness plan that works around any injuries or pain issues that have been keeping you from your fitness goals.

These are just a few of the clinicians I have come across, there are many others that are commonly accepted by insurance and the medical community at large.  Share with us if you know any more!

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