Are you getting ready for your first chiropractic visit or first chiropractic adjustment? ChiroCare of Florida has you covered.
In this blog, you'll find exactly what to expect at the chiropractor. Your initial consultation with a chiropractor will include a thorough physical examination and treatment consultation lasting 45 minutes or longer depending on your needs.
From the moment you step to the front desk, through your consultation, and into setting a follow-up treatment plan, keep reading to learn what going to the chiropractor for the first time is like.
1. Medical History and Symptoms
During your first chiropractic visit you will be given a number of forms, including a questionnaire, which you will need to fill out and return to reception before your appointment begins. These forms, along with the questionnaire, will assess your current state of health, any conditions you would like further investigated, your medical history, and any and all other chronic pains or injuries which you would like to note.
The forms will also request your profession and any physical activities that intensify pain or discomfort you may be experiencing. The patient intake is your chance to jot down the reason for your visit and any health goals you may wish to reach with the help of your chiropractor.
The types of questions you can expect to answer in preparation for your first chiropractic consultation include:
- Where is your pain located?
- When and how did the pain start?
- Did the pain start as a result of an accident or injury?
- Have you had any surgeries in the past two years?
- Are you taking any medications?
2. The Chiropractic Exam
Once you have filled out the patient intake forms and are called in to see your chiropractor, a physical exam will take place. Normally, your chiropractor will take this time to assess your range of motion, judge your reflexes, and measure your muscle strength. The chiropractor will pay close attention to the neck and spine areas, which are the main areas of chiropractic care and will receive the largest amount of time and attention from your provider.
After this is completed, the chiropractor will examine any areas of the body which you have specified are causing you additional pain or discomfort. This normally involves an X-ray of the spine. This will not only pinpoint any major pains or abnormalities, but will also give your chiropractor an understanding of the structure of your unique anatomy.
Range of Motion of the Affected Part
One of the first components of a chiropractic exam is to test range of motion in the affected area, or the area that is experiencing pain. Symptoms of a limited range of motion include pain, swelling, and stiffness. When this occurs, limited flexibility can impact a patient's ability to perform daily activities.
During your first chiropractic visit, your chiropractor will test the movement of a joint from full flexion (flexed) to full extension, looking for signs of discomfort, resistance, and compensation as your joints are moved. This is important as it allows the chiropractor to set a baseline for flexibility, design an appropriate treatment plan, and monitor progress over time.
Muscle Tone and Strength
To examine muscle tone, your chiropractor will ask you to relax your body and then will passively move each limb at several joints to test for any resistance or rigidity. To test muscle strength, your chiropractor will conduct a few general functional tests, such as holding up both arms or both legs.
When testing muscle tone and strength, a chiropractor will account for patient size, activity level, age, and so on. The purpose of this test is to determine if the muscles that are supporting your spine are weak or damaged.
Neurological Integrity and Nerve Flow
In a healthy body, nerve impulses circulate from the brain to the rest of the body, and then back to the brain. However, when an injury is present it can pinch or choke nerve tissue, disrupting nerve signals going to or from the affected area.
Spinal nerves are incredibly delicate and sensitive, and can cause burning, tingling, radiating, or shooting pain when compressed. Testing nerve flow and neurological integrity is crucial to understanding spinal health.
Depending on your condition, diagnostic studies may not be necessary. However, if your chiropractor has reason to believe that image testing can help reveal the source of your condition, he or she may require it. This is especially true if nerve damage is suspected.
The most common diagnostic studies performed during the first chiropractic visit include:
- X-ray exam
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan
- Other laboratory exams
3. Patient Diagnosis
Once your initial intake form has been reviewed, the physical examination has been completed, and your chiropractor has thoroughly accessed any diagnostic studies, a patient diagnosis can be made. This is when the chiropractor will explain what is causing your pain or discomfort and why. Once your diagnosis has been made, your chiropractor will determine if the condition will respond to chiropractic care. In most cases, the answer is yes.
At this point, your chiropractor will recommend a treatment plan that will outline:
- Individualized therapies and treatments
- Necessary spinal adjustments
- Strengthening exercises to improve muscle tone
- Patient education to improve posture and reduce pain
- Anticipated length of chiropractic care
- The goal of treatment
4. Spine and Neck Adjustment
Once you have completed your initial intake and received your first physical exam with X-rays, you will receive your first back adjustment. This normally takes place on a table designed for chiropractic treatments, in which you can lie face down, face up, on your side, or sitting upright, depending on your specific needs.
Most chiropractors will begin treatment during the patient's first visit, although in some cases, they may wait until the next appointment. At ChiroCare of Florida, our physicians work to the best of our ability to ensure that if you're going to the chiropractor for the first time, you leave feeling better than when you arrived.
What to Expect from the First Chiropractic Adjustment?
At ChiroCare of Florida, our physicians will never administer an adjustment without first explaining why the adjustment is necessary, what it will do, and the motions the chiropractor will perform in order to complete the adjustment. We understand that many people are unsure what to expect, or are wary of that infamous "popping" sound the adjustment will make. So, we walk you through every step.
Your first chiropractic adjustment will vary depending on your needs. For instance, whether you lie on your side, back, stomach, or sitting up will depend on which vertebrae or joint your chiropractor is manipulating. As your chiropractor places you in the optimal position for the adjustment, he or she will let you know what movement they will perform to create the actual manipulation – typically this is a quick, painless thrusting motion. Then, the popping noise will follow. This is simply the sound of harmless gas bubbles popping at the joint as oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide release joint pressure.
To see an actual ChiroCare of Florida back adjustment, watch this video.
5. Future Treatments
If you have an underlying condition, chronic pain, or multiple issues or pains which you are experiencing simultaneously, you most likely will require ongoing care to relieve your symptoms. This can range from weekly appointments to monthly sessions, depending on what you hope to gain from ongoing care. Your chiropractor will be by your side to assess your overall health, specific condition, and goals, and together you can come up with a treatment plan that works for you.
First Chiropractor Visit FAQ
Q: Will an adjustment hurt?
A: No, a chiropractic adjustment should not hurt. You may experience slight discomfort as your chiropractor positions you to perform the adjustment, however, the adjustment itself is a painless process.
Q: How long are chiropractic appointments?
A: Chiropractic appointment typically range from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the condition being treated.
Q: How will I feel after an adjustment?
A: Not everybody is the same, but most people feel relief after an adjustment. Normal blood and nerve flow is returning to the site of injury, helping to speed the recovery process. You may feel more relaxed and more flexible as well. However, it is normal to also feel slightly achy or sore following an adjustment. Your body may not recognize being in alignment after being in less-than-perfect posture for so long, and may take a day to acclimate. This shouldn't take longer than 24 hours and can be alleviated with ice and rest.
Q: How often will I need to go back to the chiropractor?
A: The duration of your treatment and how often you will need to go back to the chiropractor will vary depending on the ailment you are treating. Typically, a chiropractor will request you visit the office at least once or twice per week until the injury is healed.
If you are experiencing pain in your back or neck and are considering chiropractic treatment, let the professionals at ChiroCare of Florida guide you through your first session. Contact our chiropractic treatment team today at 877-392-4402.