Good chiropractors do everything in their power to help relieve their patient’s symptoms as fast as possible with as few treatments as necessary, and also give advice on how to avoid future episodes of back pain or sciatica.
This article explains what patients can expect during the first chiropractic consultation, which involves the chiropractor completing a thorough chiropractic exam lasting 45 minutes or more.
Patient History and Symptoms before the Chiropractic Exam
In preparation for the chiropractic consultation, an individual will be asked to fill out forms that provide background information about the symptoms and condition. Types of questions the doctor of chiropractic might ask include
- When and how did the pain start?
- Where is it located
- Is it a result of an injury
- What activities/ circumstances make it better?
- What activities/ circumstances make it worse?
The Chiropractic Exam
A thorough chiropractic exam includes general tests such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and reflexes, as well as specific orthopedic and neurological tests to assess:
- Range of Motion of the affected part
- Muscle Tone
- Muscle Strength
- Neurological integrity
Further chiropractic exam tests may be necessary to assess the affected area (such as having the individual move in a specific manner, posture analysis, or chiropractic manipulation of the affected body part).
Diagnostic Studies to Supplement the Chiropractic Exam
Based upon the results of the history and chiropractic exam, diagnostic studies may be helpful in revealing pathologies and identifying structural abnormalities that can be used by the chiropractor to more accurately diagnose a condition. Diagnostic studies are not always necessary during the chiropractic exam.
The most common diagnostic studies during chiropractic exams include:
- X-ray exam
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan.
- Other Laboratory tests
Many chiropractic clinics can perform basic X-<wbr>rays, but an MRI scan and more extensive imaging studies may be referred to an outside center.
Patient Diagnosis after the Chiropractic Exam
History, physical examination and any diagnostic studies lead to a specific diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is established, the chiropractor will determine if the condition will respond to chiropractic care.
- Diagnosed condition
- Individualized chiropractic treatment plan (or other treatments)
- Anticipated length of chiropractic care
Chiropractic Treatment Plan
Most chiropractors begin treatment during the patient's first visit, although some may wait until the next appointment at the chiropractic clinic.
Chiropractic treatment recommendations may include some or all of the following:
- adjustment to key joint dysfunctions
- Modalities to improve soft tissue healing and pain control, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and traction
- Exercises to improve muscles balance, strength, and coordination
- Patient education to improve posture and motor control
- Other treatments such as massage, heat/cold application, and education on nutrition.
This section of the article explains how chiropractors typically structure chiropractic treatment.
Goals of the Chiropractic Treatment Plan
The chiropractor will establish specific goals for a patient’s individual plan for treatment:
- short-term goals include reducing pain and restoring normal joint function and muscle balance
- Long-term goals include restoring functional independence and tolerance to normal activities of daily living.
To reach these goals, a specific number of chiropractic visits, such as 1 to 3 chiropractic visits/week for 2 to 4 weeks, will be prescribed and followed by a re-eximination by the doctor of chiropractic.