by Caroline von Fluegge-Chen
Chronic disease is a major problem in U.S. health care. More than one-third of Americans have one or more chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The personal costs to patients and families are often severe, daily, and ongoing. The economic costs to society are almost $1 trillion annually.1
Heart disease includes high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, coronary artery obstruction, angina, and heart attacks. Most of these conditions represent a chain of events. Left untreated, of course, high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.
Most cases of diabetes develop from a pre-diabetic state which is also known as insulin resistance. Insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas – is necessary for cells to be able to absorb glucose from the bloodstream and use the glucose for energy. If cells become insulin resistant, glucose stays in the bloodstream, leading to a pre-diabetic condition.
Left untreated, pre-diabetes likely advances to diabetes, in which insulin resistance is combined with insulin depletion, as the pancreas loses its ability to produce this important hormone. Diabetes may lead to many severe problems, including kidney failure, and is a leading cause of death from heart failure.2
Cancer is now being recognized as a chronic disease.3 Rather than being a mysterious disorder that occurs randomly, many cancers are now understood to have many elements in common with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Pain is a common element to chronic disease. Affected persons often take daily pain medications. Most people become tolerant to their medication and require increasingly stronger doses. The pain of chronic disease is notoriously difficult to treat.
In recent years a holistic approach has been successfully applied in the treatment of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Chiropractic care is an important component of the holistic approach.
Chiropractic care helps restore more normal biomechanical function to the spine, which in turn improves the ability of the nerve system to effectively communicate with the rest of the body. Important benefits of this restored function may be an improvement in the body’s ability to repair damaged tissues, a strengthened immune system, and reduced levels of musculoskeletal pain. Such improvements may help lead to improved daily functioning. As levels of pain decrease, a person may be able to engage in more physical activity. Multiple benefits follow.
Chiropractic care is a key part of an integrative approach to the management of the pain of chronic disease. Your local chiropractor will be glad to help you determine whether chiropractic care is right for you.
In recent years, study after study has shown that physical activity is one of the top factors in lowering the risk of developing chronic disease. Risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer are lowered by consistent, moderate exercise.
These remarkable findings have profound implications. Exercise now becomes much more than a quick fix to get yourself ready for the summer and summer clothes. Exercise is now known to be a critically important life-prolonging activity.
If you’re concerned about diabetes – exercise. If you’re concerned about heart disease – exercise. If you’re concerned about cancer – exercise. Exercise is not all there is to do, of course, but if you’re not exercising, you’re missing a key factor in maintaining good health.
Of course, no one is going to start exercising because they think they “should”. Exercise is always a choice. Federal guidelines recommend 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. These 30 minutes may be spread out over the course of the day, if needed. If we choose to be healthy, we can do this.
1“An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease”. Santa Monica, CA, Milken Institute, 2007
2Eddy DM, et al: The metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk: implications for clinical practice. Int J Obes 32(Suppl 2):S5-S10, 2008
3)”Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer”. Washington, DC, American Institute for Cancer Research, 2007 living.with.pain.jpg Physical Activity and Chronic Disease