Would you believe that chiropractic care dates all the way back to the 1890s? That's when a man named Daniel David Palmer examined a deaf janitor who had lost his hearing after a back injury some years before. After Palmer administered what would today be termed a chiropractic adjustment, the man's hearing returned.
Nowadays, a chiropractic appointment is a regular occurrence for people around the world. Here in the United States, this type of care is even covered by most medical insurance plans. But if you've never visited a chiropractor, you may be apprehensive about what will happen when you do. Read on to learn what to expect!
1. Medical History Intake
First things first, the chiropractor will want to know about what brings you to their office. To determine the course of treatment, they will likely ask you a number of questions, such as:
- Are you suffering from acute or chronic pain?
- Have you recently been injured?
- What type of pain are you feeling? How is your mobility?
- Does the pain get better or worse with certain movements, activities, or situations?
- What is your occupation?
- Are you active? Do you work out regularly and if so, how?
- What methods of pain relief have you already tried?
- What are your goals for chiropractic treatment?
In addition, they will ask about your family's medical history, any pre-existing medical conditions, or if you've suffered other injuries in the past. All of this information will help the chiropractor provide you the best possible treatment, so don't withhold anything.
2. Diagnostic Tests
Depending on your complaint, your diagnosis, and your physical condition, the chiropractor may request that you undergo diagnostic tests. The most common of these is the X-ray, and some chiropractic clinics have X-ray labs on site. In other cases, they'll refer you to a local lab or doctor's office.
Some patients might be obliged to have an MRI as well if the chiropractor suspects a problem with the soft tissue rather than the skeletal system. A torn muscle, nerve compression, or damaged disk might necessitate this type of imaging.
MRIs will almost always take place at a different facility, so you probably will not have that test done on the same day at your first chiropractic appointment.
3. The Chiropractor Exam Itself
Naturally, the chiropractor needs to examine you in order to provide the best treatment. She or he will take your blood pressure and pulse rate, check your respiration, and test your reflexes.
There are other neurological and orthopedic tests that you will probably undergo, too. These will give the provider an idea of your muscle tone and strength, range of motion of the affected body parts, general mobility, posture, and so on.
The chiropractor may ask you to walk across the room, to stand upright, to sit in a chair, and to lie down. They may take measurements, too. One symptom that the chiropractor is looking for is limb length discrepancy (LLD), which is just a fancy way of saying that one of your legs might be shorter than the other.
Minor leg length discrepancies are fairly normal; most of us have variations of about 1/5th to 3/5th of an inch. Any more than that, however, may be attributable to an injury, infection, hereditary medical condition, inflammation of the joints, or neurological problem.
Sometimes, LLDs are idiopathic. This means that no cause can be determined. Whatever the cause, however, a chiropractor can work to realign the leg lengths. This will usually reduce pain, correct a limp or poor posture, and relieve back problems.
4. An Adjustment
Whether or not you'll have a bona fide chiropractic adjustment at your first appointment depends on a whole host of factors. After the intake, there might not be enough time remaining. If your chiropractor has ordered imaging studies, they may want to look at the results before they begin any hands-on treatments. Sometimes, the patient themselves might not be ready to undergo an adjustment right away.
However, most chiropractors will begin treatment right away. That's largely because they know their methods to be safe, and because they want every patient to leave their office feeling at least a little better!
It's important to know that adjustments do not hurt. There may be minor discomfort as the provider moves you into the proper position -- lying on your side, front, or back, or sitting up -- to perform the adjustment.
When you first begin a course of chiropractic treatment, you may feel a little sore or achy in the hours afterward. In almost every case, this is due to the fact that you've gotten used to stiffness or a limited range of motion in that particular limb or joint. When it becomes loose and flexible again, you could feel slightly sore.
An over-the-counter NSAID should be adequate to ease your discomfort. As the adjustments continue, it's almost certain that they will begin to feel better and better to you. In fact, most chiropractic patients report walking away from their visit with less pain and stiffness, and much more relaxation and ease.
5. Discussion of the Treatment Plan
During the first visit, the chiropractor will talk to you about how they envision your treatment plan playing out. They will explain how their techniques will affect your body and relieve your pain or mobility issues.
The provider will also discuss how many adjustments per week or month to start out with and how you can be an active partner in your ongoing treatment.
Sometimes patients are asked to perform certain exercises at home to augment the in-office chiropractic care. The provider may also recommend traction and alignment devices to use in between sessions.
Before you leave the office, feel free to ask your chiropractor if you have any questions whatsoever about your diagnosis and treatment plan. They want you to feel comfortable and confident in their hands so that you can get the most out of chiropractic care.
Ready to Book Your First Chiropractic Appointment?
Getting an adjustment is safe and effective. A chiropractor appointment can easily be worked into your busy schedule. And it can do wonders for your spine and entire body!
Do you want to learn more about the benefits of chiropractic care? Feel free to browse our site and read some blog posts -- or contact us with any inquiries you might have.