Chiropractic work focuses on adjusting abnormalities in the spinal anatomy, with the belief that a properly aligned spinal column is the basis for the body’s overall musculoskeletal health. Many patients who undergo chiropractic work do so because they are experiencing pain or stiffness in some part of their spine, which could be due to a degenerative condition, an injury, overexertion, or poor posture – and these patients want to explore nonsurgical treatment options.
Once you have chosen a chiropractor, your first visit will involve a chiropractic examination that involves a medical history, palpation, and a series of chiropractic tests.
The Stages of a Chiropractic Examination
There are several stages of a chiropractic examination, including:
- Medical history – the practitioner will ask you about your family medical history and your personal medical history. Make a list of any illnesses or surgeries you’ve recently had, any medications you’re currently taking, symptoms you’re experiencing, and any diseases that run in your family.
- Physical exam – your chiropractor will perform a physical exam that involves palpation, which is a diagnostic technique done through gentle touching to check for abnormalities like tenderness, swelling, misaligned vertebrae, joint function, and more.
- Chiropractic tests – a gait test, movement test, and straight leg raise test are all ways that a chiropractor can check for flexibility, muscle strength, neurological function, and proper spinal alignment.
- Medical imaging – subluxations, or out-of-place vertebrae in the spine, may be detected through the use of X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, though not all chiropractors will use imaging as a diagnostic tool.
Preparing for Your Chiropractic Examination
When you arrive for your chiropractic examination, you want to be able to describe all of your symptoms to the chiropractor as accurately as possible. It may be a good idea to keep a “pain journal” for several days or weeks before your exam, so that you have a record of the frequency, location, and severity of all your symptoms. For instance, many patients who suffer from degenerative spine conditions like herniated disc or bulging disc write down instances of pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness so that the chiropractor can understand which level of the spine is affected and whether neural compression is a culprit.