Patients typically visit a chiropractor for the first time through a personal reference or a referral of another health care specialist. At the first visit, you can expect the chiropractor to complete a thorough chiropractic consultation and includes:
In preparation for your consultation with the chiropractor, you will be asked to fill out forms that provide background information about your symptoms and condition. Types of questions the chiropractor might ask include:
- When and how did the pain start?
- Where is it located?
- Is it a result of an injury?
- What makes it better?
- What makes it worse?
You will also usually be asked to provide the chiropractor with information on family medical history, any preexisting medical conditions or prior injuries, and previous and current health providers and treatments.
Chiropractic Physical Examination
Once the history has been completed, your chiropractor will perform a thorough chiropractic examination. In addition to general tests such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and reflexes, the chiropractic examination will include specific orthopedic and neurological tests to assess:
- Range of motion of the affected part
- Muscle tone
- Muscle strength
- Neurological integrity
Based on the above chiropractic examination procedures, further chiropractic tests may be necessary to arrive at the assessment or diagnosis of the affected area (such as moving your leg in a specified manner, posture analysis, or the chiropractor manipulating your arm or leg).
Diagnostic studies are helpful for chiropractors in revealing pathologies and identifying structural abnormalities that more accurately diagnose a condition. They may or may not be deemed necessary by the chiropractor based upon the results of the history and chiropractic examination.
The culmination of the history, examination and diagnostic studies is a specific diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is established, the chiropractor will determine if the condition will respond to chiropractic care.
Chiropractic Treatment Plan
Most chiropractors begin treatment during the patient's first chiropractic visit, although some may wait until the next appointment. Chiropractic treatment recommendations may include some or all of the following:
- Adjustments to key joint dysfunctions
- Modalities to improve soft tissue healing and pain control (ultrasound, electrical stimulation and traction)
- Exercises to improve muscles balance, strength, and coordination
- Patient education to improve posture and motor control
Other treatments may be included, such as massage, heat/cold application, and nutrition education. Importantly, at this point the chiropractor will establish specific goals for your chiropractic treatment plan.
- Short term goals for chiropractic treatment - to reduce pain and restore normal joint function and muscle balance
- Long term goals for chiropractic treatment - to restore functional independence and tolerance to normal activities of daily living
To reach these goals, the chiropractor will prescribe a specific number of chiropractic visits. An example would be 1 to 3 chiropractic visits per week for 2 to 4 weeks followed by a re-examination by the chiropractor.
At the re-examination, the chiropractor will measure the response to treatment and determine whether to:
- Continue chiropractic treatment if appropriate;
- Release you from chiropractic care if your goals have been met; or Refer you to another health care specialist if your goals have not been fulfilled.
Article reprinted from Spine Health