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Posted on: Wednesday, May 5, 2004
What is Chiropractic Retracing? email to the editor
By Super CA Lynne

Chiropractic patients occasionally experience the phenomenon of retracing. Retracing is the re-experiencing or re-awakening of pain or other symptoms, including memories or even emotions that seem suddenly to erupt to the surface. It appears to be a part of the healing process. Some examples may make this more understandable:

1) A person is pleased with his/her chiropractic care but suddenly finds the original symptoms returning. These symptoms clear up within a short time.

2) A person receives an adjustment and, while resting afterwards, suddenly experiences such intense feelings of lightness and happiness that he/she begins to laugh. Or, the reverse occurs and the person begins to cry. Again, retracing.

3) Someone receives an adjustment and shortly thereafter re-experiences the accident in which he/she was injured, being suddenly filled with fear and confusion. The feelings soon pass.

4) A patient begins to recover his/her health after a few adjustments, but one day feels pain. This might be in any part of the body; in the following (true) case it was the wrist: "Did you ever have any problems with your wrist before?" asked the doctor. "Yes, I broke it a few years ago in the very spot I now feel pain." "You're probably retracing," said the doctor. "The area never healed completely and is now completing the healing process. The symptoms will not last for long."

5) A person receives an adjustment and becomes consumed with memories of childhood. Once again, retracing.

Why Does Retracing Occur?
It appears that the body tissues themselves have a "memory" which records the traumas, accidents and injuries it has experienced. Since feelings of panic, shock, anger and/or hysteria often accompany injuries; the retracing patient may feel these emotions "leaving" as the physical injury begins to heal.

Retracing is not always dramatic. Sometimes it may manifest itself as simply the urge to take deep, satisfying breaths while undergoing care. There may be a release of psychophysical energy going on at this moment, though it may not be accompanied by any conscious memories. Yet retracing may be occurring in such instances.

Retracing is Real
Don't think of retracing as being imaginary or unreal. Retracing experiences are very real and can be both physically and emotionally quite intense. In such instances it's often difficult to see the experience as part of the healing process. Patients going though a particularly intense retracing pattern may feel as if they've had a serious relapse or are perhaps even getting worse.

Although retracing experiences usually last a short time and often pass relatively quickly, patients have been known to terminate their care as a result of them. During this period it is especially important that the patient tell the doctor what is going on. Patients who terminate their care as a result of retracing symptoms will be cheating themselves of a healing experience.

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