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Should I Expect a Treatment on the First Visit to a Chiropractor?

ConsultationIf you are brand new to chiropractic care, you may wonder what happens on your first visit. Chances are, you have several questions:

  • Should you expect an adjustment/treatment right away?
  • What kind of exam will be done?
  • Will the doctor be able to help me?
  • What will the cost be, will my insurance cover the visit?

It is common to have questions like this as you start on your journey with chiropractic care. As a doctor of chiropractic for more than 20 years, I want you to feel completely comfortable with the care you receive. To that end, we strive to make sure you have a thorough exam first before any treatment decisions are rendered.

In this article, you’ll learn what to expect in your first chiropractic visit and our discussions in this primary visit are crucial to your long-term spinal health.

What Happens Before Your First Chiropractic Visit

Before your first chiropractic visit, you may be instructed to complete an intake form. This form is similar to those you may have completed with other medical offices. This will help the chiropractor identify your concerns.

Questions that may be included on the form include:

  • The severity of your pain
  • When your pain started
  • How the pain started
  • If you had an injury that caused the pain
  • If you have any past injuries
  • Where the pain is located
  • How the pain feels – as in, it is a sharp pain, a burning pain, or a dull pain
  • If the pain is continual or if it comes and goes
  • What makes the pain better or worse
  • Previous therapies that you have tried, and their results

Your chiropractor may also ask you about your lifestyle habits, including exercise and sleep. Further, you will likely be asked about your medical conditions and any medications that you take.

What Happens During Your First Chiropractic Visit

You should expect your first visit to a chiropractor to be largely discussion/exam based. This includes:

  • A discussion of your medical history: Your medical history and experiences are vital to chiropractic care. Learning about your history will help your doctor set a course of treatment.
  • A review of any previous medical records you bring: Previous records, including medical records and copies of any X-rays or MRI results can help the doctor determine the condition of your spine.
  • A discussion of your goals of care: When you choose a treatment like chiropractic, it is important to make sure it can help you meet your health goals. Your chiropractor can help you set expectations for your progress.

How does the doctor determine if chiropractic care is right for me?

Your chiropractor will be able to let you know if chiropractic care is right for you after conducting a through exam. These tests will help determine the exact problem that you are having: A full examination includes activities to help the doctor determine the exact nature of your medical issue. Some of these tests may be hands-on by the doctor others may be done by medical equipment. Typically, a thorough exam includes:

  • Orthopedic exams to help determine which tissues are involved in your pain (joint, nerve, disc, muscle, etc.)
  • Neurological exams like muscle strength, reflexes and sensory nerves
  • Your range of motion
  • Biomechanical examination to determine altered joint motion and abnormal spinal mechanics.
  • Imaging may be necessary to correlate your exam findings (x-ray, MRI or CT)

Should I expect treatment at my first chiropractic visit?

Treatments should typically not begin at your first visit. In our experience, jumping too quickly into treatment is not a good idea. Doing so not only wastes your money, but can put you at risk of harm if a full assessment has not been conducted.

Without full knowledge of your spine’s condition and the problems you are having, treatment should only come after a proper diagnosis of what’s wrong.

Once the doctor has a chance to study your exam findings and determines your diagnosis (what’s wrong) and prognosis (realistic idea how you will do) should treatment be rendered.

What Happens After Your First Chiropractic Visit

After your first visit, if your chiropractor determines that chiropractic care is right for you, you will get a treatment plan.

Conversely, if your chiropractor thinks that chiropractic care is not appropriate for your care goals, they will refer you to another provider.

A treatment plan can have a variety of elements. Some elements are directly related to the chiropractic care itself, while other elements are about strengthening and healing your body so that chiropractic care can benefit you. They may include:

  • Chiropractic appointments: Your chiropractor will recommend a schedule for your first chiropractic adjustments. Typically you will see the doctor more often in the beginning and less as you progress through your care.
  • Home recommendations: Certain home activities like exercises and stretches may be recommended to improve your condition.
  • Heat or cold therapy: Depending on your needs, heat or cold compresses may help to soothe your pain during your recovery.
  • Ergonomics: Sometimes, products including pillows and back supports can help improve your neck and spinal alignment and lead to a quicker recovery.
  • In office therapies: therapy may be done in addition to your adjustments to promote the healing of spinal soft tissues including muscles and ligaments.
  • Posture: Your posture plays a key role in your spine and neck health. Your chiropractor may recommend changes to your posture when you sit, stand, or walk.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS): This device delivers low-voltage pulses through electrodes. The electrodes attach to your skin via adhesive pads. Depending on your condition, this may be recommended to reduce pain.
  • Diet: A healthy diet is key to a healthy body. Your chiropractor may advise you to eat a healthy diet and minimize processed foods which can contribute to painful inflammation.

Your First Visit at Precision Spinal Care

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and credentialed spine care specialist, I strongly believe that the first visit is best used as a time to fully assess your condition. This includes a thorough exam of your spine and a discussion about your medical problems.

After your exam at the first visit, we will discuss my evaluation. If chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you.

If chiropractic care is the best way to meet your care goals, we will work together to develop a plan to meet your needs. I make sure to set reasonable expectations and milestones for your recovery. At regular intervals, I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting these goals and that chiropractic remains the best choice for you.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you look for expert chiropractic care. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all the options with you and your family.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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