What to Expect at Your First Chiropractic Appointment
The first visit to any healthcare provider triggers many thoughts and concerns. It is natural to have these questions and, in some cases, fears. If you ask a friend or a relative about their experience, you will likely receive many stories about their chiropractic experience.
These stories will be conflicting, making it difficult to ascertain whose version is accurate. So, what exactly goes on at the chiropractor? Is there any protocol for chiropractic appointments? What does a chiropractor do?
Chiropractors are experts in the spine, muscles, nerves, and ligaments. If you’re having an issue with any of these, schedule a visit with the chiropractor. Australians make 21.3 million visits to the chiropractor every year. Here is what to expect during your first chiropractic visit.
Before the Visit
Before visiting a chiropractor, it is essential to talk to a few chiropractors in your local area. Make an effort to interview them. You can do it over the phone or in person. These interviews will help you get a feel of their experience, approach, and philosophy.
This interview should be limited to questions only. After the discussions, choose the chiropractor whose approach you like most.
What to Wear to the Chiropractor
Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing like sweatpants and gym shorts. These clothes will ensure the chiropractor does not struggle to examine you and do any tests they deem necessary. Avoid restrictive garments like suits and skinny jeans. Also, avoid dresses, skirts, and layers.
In a typical chiropractic appointment, you may be asked to lie down on an exam table. Anything you wear should be comfortable and flexible enough to allow you to lie on that table comfortably and without struggle.
What to Expect at the Chiropractor
When you check-in, you will be required to fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaire will aid in determining your medical history, current health status, and any isolated or chronic injuries. Your chiropractor will inquire about your occupation as well as any physical activities that aggravate pain.
This session is an excellent opportunity to discuss your pain history and goals.
Typical questions include:
- When did you first experience the pain?
- Where do you feel the pain?
- What circumstance(s) make the pain better or worse?
- Describe the pain. Is it sharp or radiating?
It is vital to tell your chiropractor the truth. Some pre-existing conditions increase certain risks. These conditions are why the chiropractor examines your medical history thoroughly. The chiropractor treats everything as confidential in the same manner that a medical doctor does.
The Chiropractic Exam
Depending on your problem, the chiropractor will evaluate your muscle and joint range, muscle tone and strength, neurological well-being, and reflexes during the physical exam. Orthopaedic and neurological tests help to determine what’s going on with your body problem. The chiropractor will begin with a physical exam before focusing their attention on the neck and spine.
The neck and spine are the foundation of chiropractic treatment. The chiropractor will then evaluate the specific areas of complaint. The chiropractor will perform specialized orthopedic examinations to uncover issues that are not visible.
Diagnostic tests aim to identify the cause of symptoms, a condition, or its cause. X-rays and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans are the most common tools utilized by chiropractors. However, their use is not mandatory.
Your chiropractor will use X-rays to determine the structure and integrity of your bone architecture. The chiropractor can also see the level of wear and tear on your spine and any abnormalities using X-rays.
A patient diagnosis can only be made after your first intake form has been examined, the physical examination has been performed, and your chiropractor has thoroughly evaluated any diagnostic investigations.
This final moment is when the chiropractor will explain what’s causing your pain and why it’s happening. After your chiropractor has made a diagnosis, they will determine whether or not your illness will respond to chiropractic treatment.
Before beginning therapy, your chiropractor must thoroughly explain what they discovered during your assessment. They will disclose how they plan to treat you, the costs, advantages, and any significant risks related to your condition. Then, they will lay out the treatment plan.
This treatment plan considers the following factors:
- Overall health.
- The illness or injury and its cause.
- When the illness or injury occurred.
- Your specific needs.
In some cases, the chiropractor can determine that the condition requires a physician. The chiropractor will also determine if your treatment should begin then and if you will need multiple sessions.
If the chiropractor decides that you can get an adjustment, here is what you can expect:
- The chiropractor will first instruct you on where to lie down or stand for the adjustment.
Your position is critical because it allows the chiropractor to execute an accurate adjustment per your diagnosis and treatment plan. For instance, the chiropractor may require you to lie face down on the adjustment table.
- The chiropractor will then apply fast and directed pressure on a specific joint or spot on the neck or back with their hands or a specialized device.
During the adjustment, you may hear a pop or feel some soreness. After the adjustment is complete, you can unwind for a few minutes before returning to your routine.
- In addition to an adjustment, a chiropractor may provide other treatments. These treatments may include the use of heat or cold, as well as a muscle massage.
- During an adjustment, you should not expect to be in pain. If you experience any discomfort, inform your chiropractor immediately.
The purpose of this therapy is to heal your body and spine. If your problems are chronic or have multiple issues, you will need multiple sessions.
Depending on the condition, a chiropractor may propose a maintenance program, including continuing with exercises and receiving periodic spinal adjustments.
For the first several hours after your adjustment, you may feel a little sore or have a slight headache. This side effect is completely normal and should go away with some rest and plenty of water.
After your appointment, stick to low-impact activities like walking or jogging. Follow your at-home treatment plan and contact your chiropractor if your discomfort or headaches persist after a few days.
Chiropractors do not prescribe drugs. However, they can help you organize your diet. They will give you diet advice and, in some cases, recommend dietary supplements. Before leaving, you will receive a schedule for a follow-up meeting.
Most chiropractic treatments last several weeks. You can expect to have 2 to 3 visits every week. Depending on what you intend to gain from continued therapy, follow-up meetings can vary greatly.
How Long Will the Appointment Last?
The first chiropractic visit is usually the most prolonged visit you will ever have. Depending on your problem, your visit can last anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes. Subsequent visits will last 10 to 20 minutes.
The first visit aims to identify the problem, develop a potential management strategy, and establish a therapeutic working relationship.
The Costs Involved
Various factors determine the cost of your chiropractic visit; they include:
- Whether the chiropractor charges extra for the initial appointment
- The modalities used.
Some chiropractors charge a set fee for many therapies in a single appointment, while others charge you per appointment.
Chiropractic care is a crucial component of living a healthy lifestyle. Make any necessary modifications at home and at work to lessen the pressures that put a strain on your spine and nerves so that your body can work effectively.
A healthy spine contributes to a healthier body and helps you perform optimally by allowing your nervous system to run effectively. The chiropractic appointments and adjustments only take a few minutes, but each visit builds on the previous one to create long-term changes in your spine and nervous system.
Several injuries and illnesses can benefit from chiropractic treatment. If you’re experiencing any discomfort, contact a chiropractor to kick start a pain-free and healthy life.