What to Expect Your First Visit
If you've never been to a doctor of chiropractic (DC),
it's natural to wonder what to expect on your first visit. To dispel any
fears or uncertainties, we've prepared the following step-by-step guide.
When you walk into a chiropractor's office, it may
very well look like the office of a medical doctor or a dentist. In some
cases, however, your chiropractor may opt for a different look, one
that's warmer and less sterile. It all depends on his or her personal
style and philosophy.
Your chiropractor or the office manager will greet
you, take your name and ask you to fill out some forms and a
questionnaire. That questionnaire will cover your medical background,
family history and any previous treatment or surgery.
When your DC is ready to see you, you will talk
together in detail about the history of your complaint. He or she will
also ask detailed questions about your health history.
Chiropractors examine patients in much the same way
that medical doctors do. Your chiropractor will test your reflexes and
muscle strength. He or she may also take your temperature and your
of motion is of particular interest to chiropractors, so expect a
test to see how far certain joints in your body bend comfortably.
Your chiropractor may also order x-rays or use other
techniques to complete or confirm a diagnosis. Be sure to ask questions
about any procedures you aren't familiar with.
If your DC finds a problem with joints in your spine,
he or she may use adjustments
to care for these joints. An adjustment is a quick but gentle pressure
on a joint to loosen it. Chiropractors can perform adjustments either
with their hands or with a mechanical device called an activator
tool. (Doctors receive years of training to learn about manipulating
bones in the back safely.)
Adjustments can produce a popping sound, similar to
that of a cracking knuckle, when pressure in the joint is released. The
sound is caused by bubbles of carbon dioxide gas escaping from the fluid
surrounding the joints. The sound is harmless and the gas will
eventually dissolve back into the fluid.
Adjustments shouldn't be painful, although you may
feel some discomfort until the pressure in the joint is relieved.
Depending on your condition, your chiropractor may
schedule a series of visits for care. For example, he or she may want to
see you three times a week for several weeks, then twice a week for two
weeks and so on.
If so many visits seem unusual, consider this: when
you see a medical doctor, he or she may prescribe pills to treat your
condition. Because you can take the pills yourself, you don't have to go
back to the doctor's office. Your chiropractor's care, on the other
hand, involves adjustments and tests that must be done in person.