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The "Detox" - Regression Before Progression?


The purpose of this article is simple: to help parents understand what is happening with their child as they heal and recover through Neuro-Tonal Chiropractic Care.

Truth is, when children with challenges such frequent colds/flu, autoimmune issues, behavior challenges, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, ADHD, autism, etc. begin care they often experience what some would term “regression before progression.” While that term may be correct in what is going on the “outside” it is not true of what is going on the “inside” with that child, and that is exactly what we will explore and explain here.

It is very true that early on in care things such as sensory struggles, sleep difficulty, seizures, anxiety, tempers, tantrums, etc., can “flare up” and increase in frequency. For very young children, this usually lasts no longer than a few days, kids aged 5-10 usually just a week or two, and in older children (whose challenges have been present longer and are more severe) it can be up to 4-6 weeks.

From our understanding of the nervous system we know the benefits of easing the stress and tension in an individual and allowing their body to heal. So… why are things getting “worse” in the beginning? And even more confusing, why are all the objective/functional findings showing improvement at the same time!?!

Important point here:

“Subjective” findings are those related to symptoms: things such as headaches, outbursts, fussiness, seizures, pain, etc. These findings are varied from person to person (for example: pain tolerance), and therefore not the best measure of improvement or change.

“Objective” findings are those that are able to be quantified and measured, such as posture, diagnostic imaging (ie. scans), blood work, etc. It is a hallmark of functional healthcare that objective findings are more important and more reliable than subjective findings.

When you’re sharing with us some of these outbursts or “worsening” of symptoms you’ve seen, you might find that we are excited and encouraged by the news. While this may seem quite cold and even malicious, I assure you that we care deeply about getting your child well and know that this is a part of the process!

Here is why we’re encouraged by this: these children with very challenged and overstressed nervous systems, immune systems, and digestive systems have unfortunately been that way for a long time – meaning they have become “hard wired” with that stress, tension, and toxicity. Frequently, by the time they enter our office it is after traditional medical treatments haven’t fully corrected the issue and all they know is stress, stress, and more stress. And in the end, for them to get better that stress must come out.

A proper parallel analogy here is the idea of a person going on a nutritional detox program. The purpose of nutritional detoxes is to rid the body of built up toxins and junk. The ingredients in the detox are usually ones that are known to kick in our body’s cleaning and excretion organs such as the liver, kidneys, and gut. Therefore, participants frequently experience headaches, diarrhea, skin sores, and more when going through this detox. While those are all what many perceive to be “negative symptoms” (subjective), when you understand physiology behind them you understand they are really “positive responses” (objective) the body goes through!

As we think of the types of subjective challenges many of these kids are going through we realize that they must eventually “come out” in order to be healed. Anxiety, hyperactivity, poor behavior, outbursts, coughing, mucus, gut issues, etc. are all bound to increase on the “outside” as the body gets them out of the “inside” early on in care.

The deeper answer to fully understanding this process is grasping our unique approach at Thrive Chiropractic. Rather than focusing on the secondary conditions (symptoms) that are bothering a patient, we understand that to truly heal and create lasting change we must correct the underlying cause. We know that the default mode of our body is to heal and thrive, so our goal is to remove obstructions to that process and let the body heal on its own.

Simply put, a cut will heal on a living person but won’t on a cadaver. If healing, growth, and development aren’t occurring, we need to find out why, remove those obstructions, and allow the body to return to optimal function.

So how can an increase in seizures, tics, and outbursts be healing? In the same way that a body “dumps” toxins in a nutritional detox, the nervous system dumps “stress” that it has experienced. If that nervous system had years of outbursts, immune challenges, seizures, tics, and anxiety “hard-wired” into it, how else is it going to get rid of it?

When you put it all together, “regression before progression” is not regression at all, it is healing. The body frequently must go through this to get to the end desired result. It must get ‘sick’ to get well. That is why at Thrive Chiropractic we often are excited when we get these reports back. We are not callous and crude people who like the fact that the child is having more outbursts, waking at night, seizures, tantrums, or hyperactivity – quite the opposite! We understand and respect the healing process the body must go through be well again, and we know that without going down that road you won’t experience the results you are hoping for with your child.

If you are reading this article as your child goes through this, please know that we understand. We understand that this means more sleepless nights, more calls home from school, more frustration. We will talk you and walk you through each and every step, answer every question, and continue to show you the crucial objective and functional findings that are likely improving with each and every visit and progress checkpoint. Please know that the care we provide allows your child to better heal, grow, develop, and truly THRIVE. In the end, that is exactly what they need to have their best chance at a healthy, bright, and optimal future!

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