Conservative treatment could be seen as the least aggressive approach to treating a condition, and it’s often contrasted to “aggressive” approaches, which might at first hazard more risk. Doctors take a variety of approaches toward disease and they may favor more conservative or aggressive approaches in general, or they may evaluate potential for cure in each individual case and determine the path of most favorable outcome. The matter can be a little confusing for patients, often accounting for the difference of opinions patients may get when they seek advice from more than one doctor. It’s not as easy for the patient to determine best treatment because he may hear from doctors with different basic approaches.
When people hear conservative treatment discussed, they may automatically think of medical versus surgical. Non-surgeons may favor conservative approaches that are non-surgical. Similarly, surgeons are more likely to recommend a surgical cure. In any individual case there can be strong arguments for both points of view, or sometimes there is no question that one method is better than the other. Some things can’t be addressed surgically, and others things can’t be fixed with only medical treatments. On the other hand, there are so many areas where medical or surgical methods stand in opposition to each other, and some have almost equally beneficial outcomes.
The one thing that can usually be said about a conservative approach is it is least disruptive to the body. Surgery, though it can be curative, disrupts. It has sizable risks of bleeding, infection, and complications from anesthesia. If a doctor favoring the conservative treatment approach sees he can achieve beneficial results by administering a drug, a therapy, or a noninvasive treatment, he would be likely to favor it. Sometimes, though, a conservative treatment takes longer, is not as effective, and surgery tends to stand the advantage of either working or not. It’s a higher risk investment with a greater chance of payout.
This does not mean that a conservative treatment has no risks. A longer treatment time, ineffectiveness, and potential complications from non-surgical interventions can all be high too. It’s quite possible when a doctor is too conservative that further damage to the body may affect future health or survival. Conservative doesn’t always mean “slowly but surely,” and it sometimes means that people wait with painful continuation of their symptoms for a treatment to work, which may never happen.
Some doctors view this as a multi-stage approach. They begin with the least intervention and scale up as needed to the level of aggression that is effective in fighting a disease. Other doctors want to hit the illness hard; at first diagnosis, throw everything at it and cure it as quickly possible. This approach can backfire and one instance of this is the overuse of antibiotics, which has led to so many antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. Doctors are now required to take a much more conservative approach when prescribing antibiotics so they minimize this potential effect.