Chronic illness is the single greatest threat to our health, to our quality and quantity of life, to our economy, and to our standard of living. The social and economic burden of chronic illness is unsustainable and is bankrupting individuals, corporations, and governments. A full 80% of the adult population in Industrial society has already developed chronic illness. 80% of all healthcare spending goes to palliate patients with chronic illness. By 2017 spending on chronic illness will reach $4.3 Trillion in the U.S. alone; that is $12 Billion per day, $500 million per hour, and over $8 million dollars per minute. The U.S. is NOT an outlier. On a per capita basis, these figures are now representative of virtually every Industrial nation around the world, including Australia.
The evidence is unequivocal. Chronic illness is a lifestyle issue. Lifestyle is the cause of chronic illness and lifestyle is the only evidence-based solution for the prevention of, and recovery from, chronic illness. Outside of acute trauma, lifestyle is the leading causal factor for every patient within the scope of chiropractic practice, including those with chronic back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Lifestyle is also the leading determining factor in how well our patients respond to intervention, their pain levels, and their ability to heal. There is nothing within the scope of chiropractic practice that is not greatly influenced by the lifestyle choices of our patients. The evidence is clear, anatomical evaluation of patients is NOT predictive of their symptoms, the type of care they will respond to, or their prognosis. Lifestyle habits, including psychosocial factors, have much greater predictive value than anatomical diagnostic tools such as x-ray, MRI, or orthopedic tests.
The knowledge and ability to educate and empower patients regarding healthy lifestyle change is the skill set that is most needed, and will be most sought after by individuals, governments, insurance companies, and corporations in the 21st century. Research indicates that lifestyle change is exponentially more effective and exponentially less expensive than medical treatment when it comes to chronic illness.
Here are a few quotes from an article published by Hyman et al. in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2009; 15(6):12-14
“If we train and pay for doctors to learn how to help patients address the real causes of disease with lifestyle and not just treat disease risk factors, simply the effects of poor lifestyle choices, with medications and surgery, we can save almost $1.9 trillion over 10 years for just 5 major diseases: heart disease, diabetes, “pre-diabetes” or metabolic syndrome, and prostate and breast cancer.”
“Personalized lifestyle medicine is a high science, high touch, low tech, low-cost treatment that is more effective for the top 5 chronic diseases than our current approaches. Yet it is not taught in medical schools, practiced by physicians or delivered in hospitals or healthcare settings.”
The sad reality is that lifestyle science and lifestyle intervention are not taught in chiropractic, medical, or any other healthcare provider educational programs. It was for this exact reason that I developed the Wellness Lifestyle Post-Graduate Certification Program for the International Chiropractors Association. We can all be proud that chiropractic was the FIRST REGULATED HEALTHCARE PROFESSION to create such a program .