The Diagnosis: Figuring Out What is Wrong


Both doctors and patients are eager to give a name to symptoms. The illusion is that once symptoms are labeled, we have more control them. Insurance companies perpetuates this paradigm by requiring an official diagnosis to reimburse. However, the reality is, many diagnoses are inaccurate and therefore misleading. Moreover giving symptoms a name will often put the brakes on further investigation.

Accurate therapy depends on accurate diagnosis. To truly understand what’s wrong with patients, it’s essential that we don’t fall into the trap of seeking labels for symptoms but instead diagnose the processes underlying the symptoms.

Take Fibromyalgia for example, the diagnosis given by the American College of Rheumatology defines this condition as meeting the following criteria:

• A history of widespread pain lasting more than three months affecting all four quadrants of the body, i.e., both sides, and above and below the waist.

• Tender points – there are 18 designated possible tender points (although a person with the disorder may feel pain in other areas as well).

This description is clear cut. Patients who’ve been feeling terrible without knowing why will feel reassured when they are told they have Fibromyalgia. At least someone finally understands what’s wrong with them. But do they really?

Diagnose the process!

Beyond providing a label, a doctor must also ask “What are the processes underlying the patient’s malaise?” “Why is there widespread pain?” “Is liver detoxification sluggish?” “Are the adrenals near exhaustion?” “Is there leaky gut or intestinal dysbiosis?” Is there a neurotransmitter imbalance? If we can answer yes to two or more of these questions, then what kind of diagnosis can we possibly give to encompass all the body systems that are functioning at subpar level? 

If we’re being thorough in our diagnostic work up, the answer is we usually can’t. However, using Applied Kinesiology which is a specific form Functional Medicine, what we can offer is a profound understanding of the processes underlying the symptoms. This puts us on the path to true recovery.

Diagnosing with Six Senses

With experience, a practitioner becomes more adept at using his six senses to diagnose. We like to say that the examination begins as soon as a patient walks through the door.

Sight: We observe how patients move. Are they guarding when getting out of the chair due to pain?  Is there low back pain and a sideward hitch when they walk (Gluteus Medius muscle / reproductive organs). As they walk, does the patient flail one arm while the other stays still Latissimus Dorsi / pancreas),? This suggests blood sugar disorders in which the becomes neurologically “short circuited” on one side. An example of is “Verve” lead singer Richard Ashcroft in the music video of “Bittersweet Symphony.” Vladmir Putin does it too.

In conversation, we look for physical abnormalities like dilated pupils (side effects of drugs, adrenal stress, etc.), coarse, sparse hair (thyroid) or dark circles under the eyes (chronic fatigue and / or colon dysbiosis).

Smell: Following our nose can also provide important clues: does the breath smell fruity (chronic alcoholism? diabetic ketoacidosis? low carb diet?). Does the breath have a fetid or foul odor that is detectable from a distance (intestinal dysbiosis)? Does the pelvic area smell musky (candida / fungus)?

Sound: It’s critical to listen not only to what patients say but also how they say it. Do they gasp for air between sentences (adrenal exhaustion? asthma?) In the years before his retirement, David Letterman was often gasping as such. Frequent sighing on the other hand, is more indicative of either a Magnesium deficiency or the system being too acidic.

Touch: Our tactile sense is most active during the physical exam, however, even a handshake can provide clues. Are the hands cold and clammy? This would indicate an overstimulated nervous system or possibly a hormonal imbalance.

Sixth Sense: Intuition is our capacity to know things without having concrete evidence. With experience, we become better at relying on this faculty to guide us during the diagnosis process. We often get hunches, like a bell being sounded inside us when we stumble upon something important in the examination process.

Diagnosing with Applied Kinesiology

As a chiropractor, I rely on conventional diagnostic exams such as x-rays, blood tests, and MRI. Taking a thorough health history and asking the right questions is also critical in the diagnostic process: how long have you had this problem? How often do you experience it? How intense? When does it occur? etc.

As a chiropractor using AK, I have the added advantage of relying on body language to diagnose. By analyzing posture and employing muscle testing, I am able detect muscle imbalances. Weak or contracted muscles indicate more complex problems within our body. In AK, we use homeopathic vials of hormones, neurotransmitters, pathogens and more as a way of digging deeper into chemical imbalances. As such we can often extrapolate what we need to know, and provide precise remedies without having to rely on high tech diagnostic exams.

The body will provide us with answers as long as we ask the right questions in the right way!


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About Author

Dr. Robert Morrison is the official chiropractor for the Broadways show "Hamilton". He graduated from Western States Chiropractic College (WSCC) in Portland, Oregon in 2001. In the same year he relocated to Italy where he gained experience treating thousands of patients in both private practice and in health care facilities throughout the country. By 2009, Dr. Morrison achieved Diplomate status in Applied Kinesiology (D.I.B.A.K.) and became president of the Italian chapter (ICAK Italia). During his tenure he earned acclaim as an international lecturer and published the authoritative textbook "Applied Kinesiology Manual Muscle Testing." A year later, Dr. Morrison became a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Diplomate of the Board of Clinical Nutritionists. In 2014, after 12 years in Europe, Dr. Morrison returned to his hometown New York City where he currently resides and practices. website:

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