July 11, 2012
Navigating The Path Back to Health
Navigating The Path Back to Health
As upper cervical doctors, we are often asked about the different symptoms a patient might experience throughout the various phases of care. If you are currently seeing an Upper Cervical Doctor, they have determined that you have what is called a vertebral subluxation—a misalignment of one of the two upper, most moveable vertebrae that interferes with the nervous system can result in body malfunction and imbalance.
How long did you have this subluxation? One day? 30 days? A year? Ten years? Although we may not be able to pin point the exact time a subluxation occurs, we do know that it is the catalyst in a number of harmful changes in your overall health. Things like poor immune function, poor posture, disc injuries, arthritic degeneration in your spine, and decreased organ function can take place as a result of that subluxation.
When you receive an upper cervical correction, the nervous system, muscles, tendons, and ligaments begin to adapt to the change. As this happens, you will notice changes in body balance and body function. Posture, balance, pain, sleep, organ function and much more can improve. This initial phase of care can be a very rewarding but it can also be uncomfortable at times. Just as it took a time to develop pain or sickness; it's also takes time to regain health.
Imagine healing like this. You are walking along a path in the woods following a winding trail down a hill and past a hollow tree. An hour later you cross a bridge over a stream with wild flowers on the other side. Another hour passes and you come upon an open field when you decide to turn around and come back. As you make your way back, you again pass the wild flowers, cross the bridge, pass that hollow tree and follow the winding path back out of the woods. Having walked 2 hours into the woods, you cannot logically expect to walk back out in 15 minutes.
"As it took time for the condition to change from health to a maximum degree of abnormality it takes time to RETRACE BACK TO HEALTH."
~ Dr. B.J. Palmer, Developer of Chiropractic
The walk into the woods represents one’s journey from health to sickness. Along this journey one may experience poor sleep and later aches and pains. Further on they might experience poor digestion, frequent headaches and finally, they could develop a more threatening condition such as diabetes. Ultimately, after weeks, months or maybe years of pain and poor health one may seek care.
For those who choose conservative upper cervical care, the journey back to health begins with the first upper cervical correction. By “holding” corrections and beginning that journey back to health, they’ve turned around and are headed back out of the woods. On the way back they may revisit old symptoms previously experienced on the way to poor health or pain.
This is called retracing. It is the re-experiencing or reawakening of old symptoms, including pain, memories and even emotions for more complete healing. Even though these experiences are part of the healing process, many people confuse them with an exacerbation of their current state of health when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Retracing is a 100% natural phenomenon. It occurs in holistic healing disciplines when body balance and homeostasis (both internally and externally) are re-established.
Healing responses are little understood in the medical profession because they rarely occur with drug approaches. Drugs inhibit or stimulate bodily functions as opposed to restoring health. As a result, most people, including M.D.’s, are unfamiliar with them. However, anyone who undertakes upper cervical care will possibly experience retracing to one degree or another.
During this period, it is especially important that the patient tell the doctor what, if any response, they are experiencing. Patients who discontinue their care prematurely as a result of retracing, will be denying themselves of a complete healing experience. There might be times when you feel like a million bucks, and times where you feel absolutely awful but stick with it because as long as you are holding your correction, you can be sure you are healing!
Supporting Health during the Retracing Process
Most healing responses are mild and pass very quickly. One could experience aches, pains, digestive issues, muscle cramps, headaches, irritability or fatigue. Once again, these usually do not last long. Emotional and psychological healing responses are amongst the most interesting, and often the most important. Typical symptoms include feelings of anxiety, depression, fear or anger. Some patients may even feel the urge to laugh or in rare instances, cry for no explainable reason. However, as with physical responses, emotional responses will depend upon a person’s past traumas and experiences. Most importantly, it is essential to support this process and allow it to proceed with minimal interference. When experiencing retracing, follow these basic recommendations:
- Reduce Stress and Promote Detoxification. It is important to conserve energy for the healing process. Reduce mental as well as physical stress. Breathing deeply and slowly is very calming for the nervous system. Gentle stretching, massage and acupressure can be helpful and reduce stress. If available, short sauna sessions (especially infrared) may also ease symptoms (and boost immune function).
- Pay Attention to Diet. Eat light and natural; avoid caffeine, sugars, milk products and processed foods which contribute to inflammation in the body. Drink plenty of spring or distilled water. Even a short vegetable/fruit juice fast can be helpful.
- Ease Inflammation. Inflamed muscles or joints can benefit from applying an ice pack for 20 minutes (as often as once per hour).
- Be Mindful of Emotions. When emotions arise don’t suppress or wallow in the feelings. Find a quiet room if possible and again take slow deep breaths and try to relax. The feelings will generally pass as quickly as they came.
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