During your initial visit, you will be provided with a few registration and medical history forms by the office staff. Then the chiropractor will typically ask further questions about your health history and about your current problem or condition, such as:
- If you are experiencing pain, where is it located and when did you first notice it?
- Does the pain or discomfort seem to be the result of a recent injury or activity, or has it existed for some time?
- Are there activities or circumstances that make it better?
- Are there activities or circumstances that make it worse?
You may also be asked about any pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries, your family’s medical history, and other treatments you have received from health care providers. Once completed, your chiropractor then will carry out a thorough chiropractic examination, with a special emphasis on the spine. In addition to general tests such as blood pressure, respiration, reflexes, and pulse, the examination may include certain tests to assess the range of motion of the injured or painful body part, muscle tone and strength, and neurological integrity. Additional diagnostic studies such as X-rays or laboratory tests may be performed or recommended.
The medical history, physical examination and diagnostic tests all help to determine a specific diagnosis. The chiropractor will explain the diagnosed condition to you and determine if it is likely respond well to chiropractic care. If so, the chiropractor will explain the proposed chiropractic treatment plan or other treatments to you and the anticipated length that the treatment should take. Both short- and long-term goals for your treatment will be discussed, and additional therapies may be recommended for future visits, such as:
- Application of heat or cold to affected areas.
- Massage and stretching.
- Modalities to speed healing of soft tissues and improve pain control, such as electrical stimulation, traction, light therapy, and acupuncture.
- Rehabilitative and general exercise to improve muscle balance, strength, and coordination.
- Lifestyle counseling about healthy eating and weight loss.
Many chiropractors begin treatment during your first visit, although some may wait until the next appointment to perform the first adjustment. During a typical adjustment, you will be placed in various specific positions while your chiropractor treats the affected areas. For example, you may be asked to lie face down on a padded table specifically designed for chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractors then use their hands to apply a controlled, quick force to a joint, which extends it beyond its usual range of motion. The goal of this maneuver is to increase the range and quality of motion in the area being treated and to aid in restoring health. You may or may not hear popping sounds depending upon the technique your chiropractor uses. These sounds are normal. There are rarely feelings of pain or discomfort.
As your course of treatment continues, your chiropractor will evaluate your progress, to see how much your treatments are helping, and may adjust the recommended treatment regimen accordingly.