The typical chiropractic patient gets symptomatic relief fairly quickly after the first adjustment. However, it sometimes occurs that a few days after the first adjustment, a new patient may begin noticing aches and pains that weren’t present before.
There are two possible reasons for this.
The most common is that as the patient’s physical frame is straightening up, tension is being placed on tissues that are no longer used to it. Some muscles and ligaments have shrunk and now the body is stretching them. Cartilage has been molded in the old joint position and now has to be molded into the new one. These pains are often similar to muscle soreness after exercising your body more than it is used to.
The other reason for new aches and pains after the first adjustment is called retracing. Retracing is the term used in chiropractic for the journey back to health and optimal function. The reason it is called retracing is that the journey back to health often oddly mimics the previous path of degeneration from optimal health to disease. Imagine having a home on a mountain peak, the road down off the mountain and into the neighboring valley is treacherous with falling rocks, hairpin curves and steep drops. After having descended into the valley, the only way back home is to retrace every foot of that difficult road back to the top. In our bodies the journey back to health is usually much quicker than the descent to dis-ease, but often longer than we would like. Most patients do not notice the retracing, but in some it can be very obvious. In order to go back and heal an old knee injury, for example, the body will need to undo some of the work that had been already done which can involve soreness and inflammation, but usually only for a short period of time. This type of repair often occurs in cycles, constantly improving the body.