Chiropractic & Healing: Retracing Cycles of Repair

The following information was written by Dr. B.J. Palmer, during the early development of Chiropractic as an Art and Science.

You may be impressed with he different writing style in which bit is presented. Keep in mind that his words are so true today as they were years ago. The Laws of Nature remain consistent.

“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.”

What do we mean by retracing? Primarily, it implies going over ground which has already been covered until the individual reaches the point from which he started.

When a patient is under Chiropractic Care, it often occurs that he / she exhibits symptoms which have not manifested themselves for months, or even years. His first impression is that he is becoming worse, but he is retracing the several stages through which his disease progressed in the making.

The questuion of time is essential in the matter of retracing. if a disease has been in progress for a number of years, the patient should not always expect to regain the normal state within a few days.

As it took time for the condition of the patient to change from health to a maximum degree of abnormality, so it takes time to retrace from the abnormal condition back to health.



The time consumed in the recovery does not always correspond to the time consumed in the production of the disease. As a general thing, however, it may be stated that acute diseases respond rapidly, while chronic cases of long standing are slower in their response.

Some abnormalities show very extensive involvement of tissues, while others show very little involvement of tissues. In any involvement of tissues, the structures must retrace the various steps through which it passed in assuming its normal condition.

This is well shown by the various eruptions on the skin where tissue gradually changes and becomes abnormal, reaching its greatest degree of abnormality and then returns thorough the steps which it has covered in its appearance until the skin again becomes normal. This is equally true of those tissues in the body which are NOT visible.


The Doctor of Chiropractic is thoroughly trained to detect the abnormal positions of the vertebrae in the spine. She / He is further trained in the technique of restoring these vertebrae to their normal position.

The question naturally arises in the mind of the patient as to why the Doctor of Chiropractic cannot return the vertebrae immediately to its normal position and thus immediately restore the tissue to a healthy state.

What actually happens when an adjustment is given is rthat the vertebrae is returned toward its normal position. When this is done, the ligaments and muscles are given an opportunity to regain, in part, their normal tone, and this permits them to hold the vertebrae in a mor nearly normal state.


The spine, however, and the body in general, is subject to more or less strain during the everyday life, and it is possible that the vertebrae may recede towards its old, abnormal position, thereby necessitating another adjustment.

Also, It should be remembered that the tissues which, perhaps for years, have assumed an abnormal position, due to the gradually increasing pressure upon the nerve fibers, must be allowed time to return through the various stages  they have passed in the production of the abnormality.

This all takes time, and patience becomes a cardinal virtue, based on the knowledge that all is progressing as it should.

(Dr. Melville Comment inserted: Also, the vertebrae, bones, being out of place for such a long time, and in a rapid, acute injury, bleed and start laying down scar tissue in 48 hours. In the case of never getting adjust on a monthly basis, tremendous amounts of scar tissue have developed and the tissues that support the spine are now short on one side and elongated on the other. THIS is WHY the bone keeps going out of place and into its old pattern. A committment to a short period of adjustments is necessary to get this tissue to equalize on both sides. THEN the bone will start “Holding” in its proper place on its own.very predictably. However, it just takes time. That’s why we always say: “Be a patient Patient”.)


It can thus readily be seen that there is a gradual retracing in the position of the vertebrae from the time when it attains the maximum degree, to the time when it returns again to the normal.

There is also a retracing in the condition of the tissues which are supplied by the nerve fibers impinged. They have gradually attain a maximum degree of abnormality and must return through those various srtages by which they progressed in the attainment of that abnormality.

Not only is there a retracing so far as the vertebrae are concerned and the tissue cells affected by the Subluxation (A hard bone out of place crushing a Soft Nerve), but there is also a retracing in the symptoms exhibited by the patient.


Different stages of the disease give rise to different symptoms, and as the order reverses itself, symptoms which were present, perhaps years ago, may again occur.

If the vertebrae is being returned rapidly toward its normal position, an entire series of symptoms may develope at one time and the patient consequently will believe he is getting worse.

As a matter of fact, the outlook is particularly bright at this time, and the patient should realize this fact. Naturally, if he / she does not understand the condition, he will assume that he / she is becoming worse and may stop Chiropractic Care entirely.

It cannot be made too emphatic that this is the very time he / she should continue with Chiropractic Care, because the results are being obtained which will do the greatest good eventually.


It is immaterial whether the disease is one of long-standing or an acute condition. There must be a retracing in the position of the vertebrae and in whatever structural or functional change has occurred.

Naturally, if this is true, there must be a retracing in the symptoms. In acute cases they may be so slight in degree that they pass unnoticed.

Finally, every Chiropractic Patient should realize the necessity for continuing with Chiropractic Care, even though you cannot note the progress made form day-to-day, or even though you believe your condition is worse.

Remember, it is essential for this period of retracing to be passed through and do not allow any temporary discouragement to preclude the ultimate health which will be yours if you continue.

Health Returns In Cycles. There Are Good Days and There Are Bad Days.

When You Attain Maximum Correction Through a Committment to a Program of Healing, There will be only Good days With Monthly Maintenance Adjustments or “Tune-Ups” Or as Some Patients Call Them “Health Enhancements”.








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