Could traditional healing save Finland billions?

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

Practitioners of Kalevala limb-adjustment, a traditional healing method named after the Finnish national epic, seek approval by the medical establishment. Professor Emeritus Osmo Hänninen claims such traditional medicine could bring over three billion euros’ savings – as well as improving the work capacities of the masses.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) rake up annual costs of over three billion euros. Some 2.5 billion of this sum is made up of lost work contributions, while care and rehabilitation swallows up 0.6 billion euros.

Practitioners of Kalevala limb-adjustment claim their treatments, proved effective in the field of MSDs, could bring about annual savings between 3-4 billion euros.

Professor Emeritus Osmo Hänninen, a former Rector of Kuopio University, says doctors are in a key position when it comes to realising such potential savings. Hänninen laments the low level of proficiency in hands-on treatment among the medical profession in Finland.

“If we could get doctors to respect hands-on treatments, we could make savings. According to our research, customers rate treatments given by hand higher than pharmaceutical interventions,” Hänninen says.

Based on anatomy

Though sceptics might want to dismiss Kalevala limb-adjustment, there exists a considerable body of scientific research backing up its effectiveness.

“Between 2003 and 2006 Kuopio University carried out an in-depth study [of Kalevala limb-adjustment]. All the students I have trained, who are physiotherapists and massage therapists, noted that it is based purely on anatomy,” says master limb adjuster Kaarlo Erkoma.

In the study, some 14 Kalevala healers were shown to effectively treat pains in the back, neck and shoulders.

“Kalevala limb-adjustment first starts with relaxing the musculature and correcting malpositions. We don’t treat the symptom, but try to find out the cause of the ailment. We also don’t do anything by force; instead, we get the body metabolism and blood circulation to operate normally with a light touch. This brings about pain relief,” Erkoma explains.

Kalevala limb-adjustment is based on ancient folk healing traditions that have been best preserved in the region of Ostrobothnia, in western Finland.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.