D. D. Palmer
PALPATION AND NERVE TRACING
The chiropractor determines the position of bones,
more especially those of the vertebral column, the condition and pathway
of subdermal nerves, by palpation; this is known as physical diagnosis.
This examination is performed by a discriminating touch of the fingers
which, directed by knowledge and the skill acquired by continued application,
become very sensitive. The truth of the science, the correctness
of the art and the reasonableness of its philosophy are demonstrated thereby.
Nerve tracing is an art. The systematic application
of knowledge regarding the condition of nerves in health and disease, observation,
study, experience and skill acquired by constant practice, has resulted
in determining certain principles and facts which enable us to determine
the luxated joints, which by their displacement cause more or less nerve-tension,
variation of functions, conditions known as disease.
The art of palpation to determine the condition of
subcutaneous organs has been used for centuries by medical practitioners.
The art of nerve-tracing is of recent date, your teacher was the first
to practice it.
The chiropractor should trace sensitive, swollen,
longitudinally contracted nerves, for the purpose of locating their impingement
and tension. By palpation he determines the one or more spinous processes
which project posterior of the normal outline. The projection of
the displaced spinous process is in the direction of the head; in the cervical
it is anterior, in the dorsal posterior and ventral in the lumbar.
In a practice of twenty-five years I have only known one case of reversed
kyphosis and lordosis which I relieved by adjusting the twelfth dorsal.
There are three vertebrae which may be considered as stationary, the axis,
the first dorsal and the sacrum. There is no better way to locate
the cause of disease, or demonstrate to a prospective patient how bones
and nerves are related to each other and why such relationship accounts
for health and disease, than by palpation and nerve-tracing.
By palpation and nerve-tracing the chiropractor can
often determine the organ and the innervating subdermal nerves affected.
Nerves in their normal condition are not sensitive to pressure; those in
the teeth are not affected by cold or hot, sweet or sour ingesta.
By a unique movement the nerve which is unduly stretched,
because of being impinged against, or stretched by a displaced bone of
the neuroskeleton, is returned to its normal tension, normal vibration,
normal temperature and normal functionating.
Chiropractors demonstrate the correctness of Dr.
Dunglison’s statement in his dictionary, “Irritation is indicated by tenderness
on pressure over the spinous process of one or more vertebrae or parts
of the sides of the spine.
Chiropractors are demonstraating upon living subjects,
no cadavers, no vivisection, that there are nerve fibers which have not
been noticed by anatomists. Nerve tracing explains this unexplainable
explanation of “vicarious commutation,” or substitution.
A number of theories have been advanced to explain
the process of heredity, the transmission of acquired characteristics,
the perpetuation of ancestral distinguishing traits and qualities, including
the inheritance of disease from ancestors. One of which is that germinal
continuity, minute particles are given off from all cells of the body and
collected in the reproductive, generative, living, active basis of all
animal organizations; they represent all of the body characteristics, both
heredity and acquired.
Medical men believe that the cause of diseases originate
outside the body, or are generated within the body. Those outside
are, traumatic, heat, cold, poisons and living organisms such as bacteria
and animal parasites. Those “originated within the body are less
definitely known.” “The self-poisoning is designated auto-intoxication.”
Pneumonia, diphtheria, typhoid fever, measles, mumps,
whooping cough and rheumatism are among those diseases acquired by inheritance,
transmitted from parent to offspring, physical or mental qualities conveyed
from ancestors to their progeny. This theory includes the doubling
and multiplication of the vital units of the future individual, which accounts
for the variation of form, physical and mental qualities, including the
transference of disease. Speculation based on each assumed hypothesis
necessarily falls to the ground, as no sharp distinction exists between
germ-cells and somatic (pertaining to the wall of the body or the body
as a whole) cells.
The above-named diseases are classed as those of
heredity, whose duration is considered self-limited, are readily relieved
by chiropractic adjustments.
Conscious intelligence is the observation of impressions
received through the sensory organs of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and
touch. To these may be added perception, apprehension, recognition,
understanding, discernment and appreciation of our physical surroundings,
and these are increased by occult intuition and spiritual instinct, the
ability of knowing and the power of acting without the assistance of reason.
Intuitive sense is modified by imagination and memory,
by the discriminating qualities of intensification, by the condition of
tone and the variation from the standard of health. Modified intuitive
sense varies the actions of instinctive consciousness.
Intuitive knowing and instinctive action are determined
by organic habits and unconscious sensation without thought or volition.
Instinct is immediate in action without the process
Intuition consists of knowing without reasoning from
cause to effect, direct immediate perception without reasoning.
Instinct is a natural, inherited impulse, unassisted
by a reasoning conception of that which occasions or effects a result.
Intuition is the ability of knowing without reason,
the immediate perception of truth without conscious investigation, or assigning
rational causes for their existence.
Instinct is an inward unconscious principle in man
and the lower animals, an involuntary prompting which causes mental or
physical action without individual experience or a distinct apprehension
of the end to be acomplished, an innate tendency to perform a special action
in a distinctive way when the necessity occurs.
Intuitive belief, intuitive judgment and intuitive
knowledge are qualities due to direct perception, the result of inward
consciousness. Intuition may be mystical, perceptional, intellectual or
moral. We may have mystical visions, spiritual perception and direct
Hexiology is the science of habits. A habit
is a tendency to perform the same spontaneous action under similar circumstances.
Habit applies to individuals, instinct to ancestors. Habits acquired
through our ancestors are known as instinct.
Organic habits may be acquired by the physical organism
during the life of an individual or of a race. The system of bodily
processes of the physiological organism has been acquired through past
Constant practice, frequent repetition, habitual
custom, confirms habit until it becomes a function. Mental or organic
habits are acquired through the education of the nervous system.
In biology our environments are the aggregate of
all the external conditions and influences affecting the life and development
of an organism. In a measure we regulate our surroundings, giving
but little thought of individual and organic habits. Pernicious habits
may become fastened upon the human will, weaken vitality and bore tunnels
through the reservoirs of force and character. Self-respect and restraint
of passions are as essential to longevity as prophylaxis, the science and
art of retaining the health. Desides that are dangerous must be shunned;
the mind must be kept wholesome.
Every time we think, each time we act, a record is
made. Each repetition of a thought, each performance of an act deepens
the groove of habit, mental or physical; it renders the next similar impulse
or movement more automatic until in time the nervous system becomes like
a phonograph disk; without apparent consciousness we find ourselves guilty
of repetition. Habits become our master and we its slave.
Pure air, clean water, unadulterated food and thoughts
free from error and vulgarism will form cleanly habits of mind and body.
Chiropractors should comprehend the principle of
reflex action. Reflex is the bounding back, the return of an impulse.
A reflex action is one executed without our will, one performed and directed
by that intelligence which controls the sympathetic nervous system, the
nerves of organic life. An involuntary movement of an organ or part
of the body resulting from an impression carried by a sensory or afferent
to a subordinate center, and then sent back by an efferent nerve to some
place at or near the source of irritation is known as reflex action.
All acts performed without brain function are known
as reflex actions. The involuntary brushing a fly from the face,
or the attempt to move away from an annoyance when tickled with a feather
are examples. In reflex acts, a person does not think before he acts;
he acts before he thinks. The nervous impulse comes from the outside
and returned, is acted upon without going to the cerebrum. As it
were, the message is short-circuited back to the surface by motor nerves,
without having reached the thinking centers. Automatic acts are accomplished
without thinking. By training the acts have become automatic.
Habits are really acquired reflex actions. Habit trains certain nerve
Reflex action is the bounding back of an impulse;
the conveyance of an impression from the central system, and its transmission
back to the periphery through a motor nerve. The amount of function
depends upon the renitency, the impulsive force obtained by the bounding
back, the reflex action.
A reflex pathway is the route taken by an impulse;
it includes the afferent nerve, the nerve-center and the efferent nerve.
A reflex center is any ganglionic center where a
sensory impression is changed into a motor impulse.
Sneezing and the involuntary sniffing of an odor,
whether pleasant or unpleasant, are reflex actions. Coughing and
choking may be produced by tickling the pharynx, reflex actions, the performances
of functions by the controlling intelligence without using the encephalon.
Accumulated urine and feces call for micturition and defecation, reflex
An enlarged, contracted, sensitive nerve may in
reality be only a nerve fiber which may leave a nerve (a bundle of fibers)
and enter another; thus, we trace many nerve fibers from their exit at
the spinal foramen to their destination, or vice versa, nerve filaments
which have not been recognized by anatomists.
Be careful to make a distinction between palpation, perceiving
by the sense of touch and palpitation, rapid pulsation of the heart.