Many people who have never had a chiropractic visit are nervous about how adjustments work and what to expect. Chiropractic care can alleviate pain and improve health, and many people can benefit from it, so, if you are one of the people putting off care because you are anxious about what happens, here is your ultimate guide to chiropractor assessment. We will show you exactly what to expect from your chiropractic exam and treatments, so you can feel more comfortable.
Chiropractic care is a form of alternative medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal mechanical disorders. It works well with other treatments and therapies, so is an excellent complementary therapy. It aims to improve the body's ability to heal itself by removing blocks, including spinal misalignments, that negatively impact recovery.
It uses different techniques of spinal manipulation, called adjustments, to correct misalignments, called subluxations. Hands or small instruments can be used, in quick, controlled movements to precisely adjust the spine and other joints.
The goal is better alignment and mobility to the musculoskeletal system, including the shoulders, knees, hips, and other areas, as well as the spine.
Chiropractors use manual adjustments to relieve pain and improve movement. Hands or chiropractic tools are used to apply controlled force on the affected joint to improve alignment. Manipulation of the spinal vertebrae is called spinal manipulation therapy.
Chiropractic adjustments are precise and quick. You may hear cracking noises as vertebrae shift into alignment, but there is no need to be worried, as it is not damaging your joints.
For your chiropractic adjustments, you will start by lying face down on a chiropractic table, although you may roll over to have a chiropractic adjustment in another position. The chiropractor may use their hands or small instruments to apply a controlled, sudden force to the spinal column and other joints to correct subluxations.
Stretching and other techniques and therapies may be used, too.
Subluxation is the partial dislocation of a joint, which impacts function, and may cause tingling, numbness, or even pain. Subluxations can occur in joints other than the spine.
Your chiropractor will perform an adjustment specifically aimed at correcting the subluxation; it will be directed to the specific location and nature of the subluxation.
Arrive early to your first appointment to fill out a general health questionnaire, with details about your concerns. You will be asked about your medical history and certain relevant conditions, to determine whether specialty chiropractic techniques are required, and to make sure you are treated safely. Some patients, such as those with rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory diseases may need to take precautions while undergoing chiropractic care.
A comprehensive evaluation of all of your concerns and symptoms will be done, and you will be tested for your range of motion, balance, and strength, as well as proper alignment. You can expect to be asked about your symptoms in detail, plus any other treatments you have had, and lifestyle and health questions.
Be sure to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that are not too bulky. Your chiropractor will physically assess you, and diagnostic tests will be conducted. You may have an x-ray or thermography or surface electromyography tests. As part of the chiropractic exam process, depending on your situation, your chiropractor may also request grip and reflex tests, muscle trigger point tests, or others.
You may be asked to stand, sit, and move in different positions to assess posture, muscle and joint flexibility, sciatic nerve tension and irritation, and other aspects.
These tests act as a benchmark to measure your progress against, as well as acting as tools for diagnosis and treatment planning.
After assessment, your chiropractor will discuss treatment options and develop a treatment plan for your needs. You may receive your first spinal adjustment or other treatment on your first visit. You will be advised how often you will need treatment. You may be recommended exercises or other therapies to enhance your treatment.
Generally, treatments will need to be more frequent to start; gradually, the frequency starts to decline as your condition improves. Those with an injury, those who have regular headaches, or are otherwise in pain, or more acutely affected, will need more frequent chiropractic treatments initially. Be sure to check with your physician if you have been in an accident or were severely injured before seeking chiropractic care, as you may need to wait before starting treatment.
As your chiropractic care progresses, your practitioner will continue to help manage and treat the symptoms of your specific condition or many conditions, relieving pain, and working to restore you to optimal alignment. The chiropractic techniques may change as your condition changes and improves.
As your condition improves and you require less frequent treatments, you will still likely need ongoing maintenance. Your chiropractor will also still want to perform a chiropractic exam at times to confirm muscle and joint mobility and other trends to compare to your initial exam benchmark.
There are a variety of chiropractic techniques beyond the spinal manipulation ones that people commonly associate with chiropractic care.
Manual techniques involve the chiropractor using hands directly to guide stretching and perform spinal column and other joint adjustments, massage, and other work. There are also chiropractic methods that use instruments and tools.
Chiropractors may also offer complementary treatments, such as acupuncture, electric stimulation or e-stim, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, rapid release therapy, massage therapy, cupping, and more.
Some practitioners may specialize in specific areas, like sports, pediatric or prenatal chiropractic treatment.
After your treatment, especially for the first few ones, you may experience mild aching, soreness, or headaches; these effects are temporary, and usually only last a day. With ongoing chiropractic care, patients generally experience these less and less. Icing or heat can relieve any stiffness or pain. You may notice less stiffness, more flexibility, and a sense of relaxation.
Your chiropractor may recommend stretches or exercises, and other lifestyle changes that can help you.
Chiropractic methods can help alleviate neck and back pain from poor posture and pinched nerves, caused by everyday stressors like heavy computer use, poor ergonomics, awkward body positions, and other causes. Back and neck pain not due to medical or health conditions or injuries may only take a few sessions to achieve results.
By correcting subluxations and restoring balance, the body is better able to heal itself for speedier recoveries.
Chiropractic care offers a range of benefits beyond simply alleviating pain and headaches, although it is effective for that. It will improve posture and scoliosis symptoms, while reducing blood pressure, inflammation, and osteoarthritis symptoms.
Chiropractic therapy can help with a variety of musculoskeletal concerns or conditions, including spinal osteoarthritis, back sprains and strains, fibromyalgia, sciatica, herniated or degenerative discs, spondylosis, and more. It can help with nerve pain associated with misalignments, too.
By creating optimal alignment for nerves, blood flow, and other systems, flexibility, responsivity, and other key performance elements are improved.
Impact Chiropractic can assess and treat your conditions, and offers complementary treatments, such as massage or acupuncture, to speed healing, alleviate pain, and improve performance and range of motion.