Coming to your first visit prepared means a better and more successful visit.
Bring and be ready to share your medical history and records, including diagnostic test results and imaging results such as X-rays or MRIs. These provide important information about your condition and help your doctor prepare the best course of treatment for you.
Certain things in your health history are particularly vital to a chiropractor. Be sure to mention to your doctor if you have experienced or been diagnosed with any of the following:
- Bone disorders such as osteoporosis
- Circulatory problems (poor circulation could be a sign that you have a subluxation, for example)
- Dizziness or blurred vision
- Heart conditions such as hypertension or high blood pressure
- Infections, especially those affecting your spine
- Injuries, such as bone fractures, muscle sprains, or disc injuries
- Joint disorders such as arthritis
- Sleep apnea
Also consider the following questions before your visit, as your answers will help your doctor determine your specific treatment plan:
- Did the onset of your pain immediately follow an injury?
- Is there anything you do that improves or worsens the pain?
- When and how did your pain start?
- Where is the pain centered?
After discussing your condition with you, your doctor will perform a physical exam that includes checking your vital signs and reflexes. Your doctor will ask you to do a series of easy exercises to gather information about your motor skills, balance, gait, range of motion, muscle tone and strength and the integrity of your nervous system. Throughout these motions, your doctors will be watching for abnormalities that might provide more clues about your condition. After this, your chiropractor will use palpation, or use of the hands, to explore the alignment of your spine and other structures, as well as provide information on any stimuli that may cause pain.
You may be asked to:
- Bend forward, sideways, or backwards to detect misaligned spinal vertebrae
- Flex and extend your leg to test for signs of sprain and determine the integrity of your joints
- Grip something such as a rubber ball. Your grip strength is vital for showing signs of muscular or nerve damage
- Lie down and raise one leg – This is often referred to as the “Thomas Test,” in which the chiropractor gently pushes on your raised leg to check for hip joint mobility
- Stand and raise one leg, which helps show whether you have sciatica, a nerve disorder in your lower back. Another test may involve pushing on your raised leg to determine whether you have pain, inflammation, or imbalance in the joints between your spinal vertebrae
- Stand or sit to check your posture, which can sometimes show whether you have misalignments in your spine
- Walk a straight line to measure your gait and determine if you have a normal walking pattern
- Walk in place to look for abnormalities in the way your pelvis and spine coordinate
Depending on your condition and physical exam, a series of diagnostic tests may follow. These tests may include MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, blood work and other laboratory tests.
The chiropractor may also consult with you about making important lifestyle changes, such as exercise, nutrition or smoking cessation, to improve you chances of healing faster, or preventing further injury.