If you are new to chiropractic treatment, or about to undertake a first consultation, you will no doubt have some questions as to what you can expect. This article aims to explain the process as fully as possible so that you can approach your first treatment session relaxed and with confidence, with clear expectations about what a chiropractor is able to do and some of the treatment methods that they may employ.
A first session with a chiropractor need not be in any way a daunting experience. You will find the process relaxing and personalised, and you will receive a clear understanding of the treatments your chiropractor is proposing and what they involve, as well as the ways in which chiropractic treatment can benefit you both in the short and long term.
Like any consultation with a health professional to whom you are unknown, a first meeting will involve exploring your medical history. This may also include discussing your family history, lifestyle (including your occupation and working conditions), your diet, the exercise you take, etc. If you have medical practitioners’ reports, x-rays, MRI or CT scans, or any other relevant documentation pertaining to your health, it will be useful if you can bring this information to your first appointment.
This will then be followed by an exploration of the particular reason why you are seeking chiropractic treatment, whether it be as the result of an injury or trauma, or a long-term complaint that has deteriorated. An important part of a first chiropractic consultation will be an examination of your spine, as improving the health and efficiency of the spine is central to any ongoing programme of chiropractic treatment. Your chiropractor will be seeking to establish if there are areas out of alignment or structural abnormalities that are causing problems, and so will perform this examination both visually and manually.
It may also be the case that a chiropractor will examine your muscles, joints and ligaments. In some instances, it may then be necessary for an x-ray to be taken, or for further neurological and/or orthopaedic tests to be carried our, while the chiropractor may also perform a number of additional tests to designed to illustrate your flexibility and sense of balance. Overall, you can probably expect a first consultation to last between 40 – 60 minutes, and it is important to note that if a chiropractor does not believe that chiropractic would be beneficial for you, or if it’s their assessment that other types of medical test are required, they will refer you to an appropriate health professional.
Once the information gained from these initial assessments has been collated, your chiropractor will then set out to design a personal treatment plan for you. A central part of the process is likely to be chiropractic adjustment, when a gentle force is manually applied to a joint that is suffering from restricted movement. This manipulation helps the joint gradually to regain its normal motion and is a gentle process that does not cause any pain or discomfort; it may be carried out while you are standing, sitting or lying down.
Chiropractic treatment is highly personalised and so there is no set formula as to how many sessions of treatment a patient may require – is some cases, only a few sessions may be necessary, while for some patients an ongoing course of treatment, followed by periodic check-ups, may be necessary. In addition to chiropractic, your ongoing treatment may also involve establishing short-term goals and a longer term reassessment of elements of your lifestyle, including your diet and exercise regime. This is done to minimise the possibility that things that you are doing in your everyday life are exacerbating your complaint or inhibiting your recovery.
As chiropractic treatment is drug free and non-invasive, it involves your chiropractor establishing a complete and full understanding of your condition or complaint, and this is why the first consultation is so important. However, as the above illustrates, it is a caring, positive process that seeks to establish the quickest and most effective methods of setting you on the road to recovery.