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What to Expect Before Your First Adjustment

You may be expecting to waltz into your chiropractor’s office, get an adjustment, and waltz right back out again. That’s not likely, especially if it’s your first visit to a chiropractor. Like conventional medical doctors, your chiropractor will want to know your medical history and conduct an examination to try to diagnose the root cause of your symptoms. Here’s what to expect before the doctor does a single adjustment:

You’ll be questioned about your history and symptoms

You will likely be asked to fill out forms about your symptoms and condition. You may be asked when and how your pain started; where it is located; whether it is sharp, dull, burning or throbbing; if it comes and goes or is continuous; if it started as the result of an injury, and what activities make it feel better or worse. You’ll also be asked about your family medical history and any pre-existing medical conditions or earlier injuries, as well as your current primary care doctor and any medications you take.

Next, the chiropractor will perform an exam

This will usually include general tests (such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration and reflexes) but will also test your range of motion, muscle tone and strength, and neurological integrity. Your chiropractor may perform additional assessments related to the painful area, such as having you move in a specific manner or analyzing your posture. In some cases, your chiropractor may opt for a diagnostic study via x-ray. This can be helpful in revealing problems and identifying structural abnormalities to make a more accurate diagnosis of your condition. Most chiropractors will not send you for an x-ray, because their “hands on” training is enough to diagnose most of the common problems they see.

Based on your medical history, the chiropractors’ examination, and any diagnostic testing, your chiropractor will diagnose your condition and recommend a treatment plan. This may involve regular chiropractic care as well as at-home care like stretching or exercising daily. Once a diagnosis is made, you will likely have your first adjustment. You can expect to feel significant relief from your symptoms immediately after this first adjustment, but some patients (especially those with long-term pain) may temporarily feel worse, as the body is not used to having the spine in its correct alignment. 

Because chiropractors have a large variety of practice philosophies and use different techniques in their practices, you should feel comfortable asking all the questions you need to understand the examination, diagnosis and treatment plan.

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