Sometimes when you’re in the process of healing with chiropractic care, it can feel like an old problem is coming back. We call this retracing. Let’s talk about the chiropractic concept of retracing through an old symptom.
One way to experience chiropractic retracing of an old symptom
Let’s start with a story.
Once there was a man who went hunting, and hurt himself badly. He fell in a ditch, and twisted his left knee into a pretzel. It blew up into a swollen mess. At the doctor’s he discovered ligaments had been torn, but not enough to get surgery.
It took a long time, and little bit of rehab, but eventually most of the pain went away. And except for every once in a while, when he twisted the wrong way carrying a heavy load, the man forgot about his left knee.
Until one day, 20 years later, when he experienced the same exact pain, but under very strange circumstances.
He received his first neck correction from his upper cervical chiropractor, and not 3 days later, his left knee blew up, just like it had on that hunting trip.
“What!!?” he said, to himself, remembering the pain of his initial injury, and mentally preparing himself for a few weeks of agony.
Surely he had done something to bring this pain and swelling back. But not 24 hours later, the swelling went away, and didn’t return again.
And that is the classic story of retracing: reliving an old injury for a short period of time, without any identifiable reason why that old-injury should act up again.
Some people get this classic retracing experience. But many don’t. Instead they get something else.
The repeating cycle of the “blahs”
Instead of the classic retracing experience, some people get a general feeling of “blah.” And some veteran chiropractors have observed that it tends to happen on a predictable cycle: usually on a 7 day cycle in the first 4 to 6 weeks after the first correction, especially if the correction is in the upper cervical spine (top of the neck).
That initial blah period is followed by a rest phase, and then another few more weeks of the blahs.
In some people this cycle of rest and “blah” can go on for an extended period of time. In this phase, old or odd symptoms surface, then going back under ground again. Usually for not more than a few days. Sometimes as long as a week.
Some wouldn’t call this cycle retracing, because it’s not as obviously connected to an old injury like the hunter’s knee.
But others say most small traumas are rarely remembered. There are too many to count. So, it should all be called retracing.
No matter what’s happening, or how it happens, it’s a pattern that many people experience. And it often happens with fatigue and increased need for sleep.
I believe it’s a good sign that the nervous system has a memory, and you could say moving the body through a cycle of healing that was never completed, at a time when the entire system was under more stress.
Cycles of “blah” followed by cycles of “great!” are a good sign you are healing, provided we are keeping you in alignment and we keep your momentum moving forward.
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