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While 90% of any diagnosis is made from a patient’s history and symptoms, laboratory testing helps us to confirm or rule out a particular diagnosis of a particular disease or functional imbalance. Laboratory tests are an essential step in making an accurate and scientific diagnosis and in developing an effective treatment strategy for you.
One challenge facing conventional medicine is that doctors rely more on laboratory tests than they do on speaking with their patients to make a diagnosis. The problem arises when they don’t spend enough time with their patient to order the right test. The wrong test comes back with normal findings and your doctor concludes, erroneously, that there is nothing wrong with you. It should be obvious that for lab tests to be useful, you have to order the right ones. Only your case history can reveal the right tests for you.
In Functional Medicine, we are focused more on the functional integrity of the body’s various organ systems rather than exclusively on disease (as in conventional medicine). As you might imagine, there are different laboratory tests for functional and for conventional medicine. Conventional medicine tests identify the presence and degree of pathology (disease) and functional medicine tests indentify how well how well you are functioning. Obviously, every disease will result in functional imbalances but functional imbalances can exist for a long time and cause a lot of problems before they eventually result in a frank and identifiable disease.
Indeed, many health problems come from functional imbalances and since there is no disease present, conventional medicine tests come back showing “there is nothing wrong with you”. But with the appropriate functional medicine tests, we can identify the imbalance and most importantly correct the imbalance so that you feel well again. With a thorough case history, excessive laboratory testing (and expense) can be avoided, and the tests that we do need to order are much more likely to identify the precise causes of your health problems.
At NHWC, we use both conventional AND functional laboratory tests as they are appropriate to your individual healthcare. How do we know which tests are appropriate? From the extensive patient interview process that comes before the suggestion of any laboratory testing. Your health is unique and the laboratory tests that will be appropriate for you will also be different form the tests appropriate for another person.