All medical professionals will recognise a large number of patients who present with symptoms that are difficult to explain or are out of proportion to the condition from which they appear to suffer. These patients present a serious challenge to a medical system which has become increasingly guided by scientific evidence. Under this western medical model, a patient will present with symptoms which can be investigated with various tests or scans, the investigations will confirm a diagnosis and then appropriate treatment can be instituted. Appropriate treatment is considered to be that which has been proven beneficial by scientific method.
There are many occasions, however, where investigations for quite significant signs and symptoms turn up nothing abnormal. Pain is common but other symptoms including chronic headaches, fatigue and some abdominal complaints fit into this category. Such a scenario often leaves both doctor and patient confused and frustrated. Few doctors have effective means for helping these patients and the patients may seek an answer through alternative practices. The description ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ has been coined.