It’s always helpful to know what to expect when you go to a chiropractor for the first time. The more you know about chiropractic care, the better the chances you will have a good experience at the chiropractor.
The chiropractor adjusts your spine and other joints to improve their position. It’s called manipulation. Chiropractic care includes more than chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractors go to medical school for a comparable period of time to medical doctors.
Among the things that chiropractors are trained to assess are nerve function and how well large joints move, as well as bones, joints, and nervous system disorders.
As with other doctor appointments, the first visit starts with your medical history and a physical exam.
During Your Visit: Medical History
First visits often last about an hour. Your chiropractor will ask about your medical history and about your symptoms. Tell your chiropractor about:
- What motivates you to seek help?
- Injury history
- All your health conditions
- If you take any medications
- Any use of drugs or alcohol
- Fitness, diet, stress, sleep and other lifestyle habits make up your lifestyle.
You can download a ‘new patient’ form from the website The Chirospot of some chiropractic clinics. It’s less stressful and more convenient to answer questions when you are at home rather than at the doctor’s office.
Your chiropractor then conducts a physical examination. The chiropractor feels your spine, moves your joints, and watches your walk. It is also required that the chiropractor tests your muscle strength, reflexes, and range of motion. Radiographic studies and blood pressure checks are sometimes required.
A chiropractor might start treatment at your first visit. If that’s the case, this is what may happen:
- On a special treatment table, you will lie for an adjustment.
- Your chiropractor will stretch your spine or neck to its maximum range, typically your neck or back.
- To make the adjustment, the chiropractor will use extra force.
- You might hear a popping sound, like the sound of cracking your knuckles.
- During an adjustment, you shouldn’t expect to feel pain.
Your chiropractor will likely provide additional treatment along with an adjustment. This may include heat or ice and a muscle massage.
Chiropractic doctors can provide you with exercises to do at home. They are also trained to assist you with your diet and nutrition, but they don’t prescribe medications. However, you might receive diet advice, and your chiropractor may also suggest diet supplements or vitamins for you.
You may also be told you should return for a follow-up visit. The chiropractor may recommend return visits for two or three weeks. A follow-up usually lasts from 10 to 20 minutes. Ask your chiropractor how long treatments last and when you should start feeling better.
Your chiropractor may recommend that you give your soreness a break if your pain continues or becomes worse.