Orthopaedic surgeons are seeing increases in the number of patients using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as part of their health routine. Complementary and Alternative Medicine is that range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies that mainstream, conventional, Western medicine does not commonly use, accept, or make available. Some form of CAM is used by almost half of all Americans. During the last decade in the United States, demand for CAM has increased dramatically.

As part of this growing trend, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has launched an on-line CAM information site. The CAM site is part of the Academy's commitment to educate the public on the common usage of some herbs and interactions with drugs.

"Both doctor and patient need to be familiar with CAM treatments so they may intelligently assess their effectiveness. For example, many patients who are scheduled for surgery are taking herbal medicines or supplements," stated John W. Wickenden, MD and Chairman of the Academy's CAM committee.

"Some of these herbs pose discrete risks, such as excessive bleeding or troublesome interactions with drugs. Physicians need to be aware that dong quai, ginger, garlic, gingko biloba, ginseng, and St. John's Wort may increase bleeding and may have an interaction with. Additionally, Kava kava may interact with anesthetics. On the positive side, doctors are learning that there are CAM modalities which are of potential value to our orthopaedic patients." Dr. Wickenden notes that there is compelling evidence that the supplement glucosamine may be safe and effective in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis.

The primary mission of the Academy is education. That mission extends to the CAM committee, which is mandated to identify, define gather evaluate and disseminate information about CAM as it relates to musculoskeletal care.

Click here to learn more about and gain access to the CAM site.

The 25,500 member American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is a not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons, allied health professionals and the public.