Never seen a chiropractor before? Unsure of what they do? How do we treat your condition? So many people are scared to ask their chiropractor questions before they see them! I assure you, we would love to answer all of them! Here are a list of questions I get from prospective patients.
1. Will I receive treatment at my first appointment?
2. How long will my appointments last with the chiropractor?
3. What is your technique?
4. Do I have to keep coming back? If so, for how long?
5. Have you dealt with _____________ (concern) before?
1. Some offices perform an examination on the 1st visit and then a treatment on the 2nd visit. Reasons for this will vary - for example, some may want to take x-rays first, or take additional time to gather information or give you a report first. In either case, at least you know going into the treatment what you will come out with on that day.
It is important to me that treatment is rendered the same day, however, a thorough examination must be done to assess the concern and to see if there are any contraindications to chiropractic care. While rare that someone cannot receive chiropractic care, some potential risks to receiving a manipulation/adjustment (“the crack”) to a joint, include trauma such as a car accident, and having various cardiovascular, neurological, and autoimmune conditions. This is why we go through a detailed intake form and ask you a bunch of questions! If we feel that we cannot treat you on the same day, we would have sent you out for x-rays, the emergency room, or to see your medical doctor for follow-up to rule out anything we cannot effectively treat.
A chiropractor does much more than provide manipulations/adjustments. Even though someone comes in with those risks listed above, a chiropractor can (and often do) treat people without manipulating a joint. This includes mobilizations, use of a drop table, muscle releases, use of modalities (IFC, laser, shockwave), using an Activator Tool, prescribing exercises. A common goal at the first appointment is to provide immediate pain relief, muscle relaxation, and/or decrease in inflammation to help increase range of motion.
Summary: Ask your chiropractor so you know if the doctor will treat your complaints on the same day and if they can’t, to ask them why.
2. A typical initial appointment lasts about 60 minutes and every other visit will last approximately 20 minutes but can last as long as 40 minutes for an “extended visit”.
Summary: Watch out for doctors that only see you for 3 minutes and adjust you without doing an exam first.
3. This question allows the patient to see how a typical treatment will be like and if they have any specific concerns (issues they’ve had with a past chiropractor) they want answered. Some chiropractors only do an adjustment, some only do muscle stretching, some use modalities, some do energy work, some do cranial work, some only touch your neck. Some adjust a particular way (traditional “cracking”, drop table, Activator). Some may mention the use of rehabilitative exercises, some may have a physiotherapist or Kinesiologist to refer you on to.
Summary: To watch out if the chiropractor only has 1 technique and if they will adjust their methods to your specifications/preferences.
4. This is a good way to see if the chiropractor has a plan to get you better and to give you a choice in your treatment plan. All in all, it is YOUR choice. Everyone is different so treatment expectations and outcomes will be different for everyone. This is based on the type of injury that has happened, its severity, how long the concern has lasted, the individual’s current health status, the individual’s goals for treatment, their age and lifestyle.
Typically, if you present with an acute condition, there should be a series of appointments that are spaced closer together and then depending on your progress, it should start to be spread out. A course of 6 treatments spread over 2-3 weeks is common and then a re-assessment could dictate if treatments can be less frequent. Again, this is our professional opinion for you to get the best possible outcome but it's merely a suggestion.
Summary: To watch out for chiropractors that keep you on an acute care plan which includes 3x/week for several (3-4) months, especially without a re-assessment.
5. It is okay to ask your chiropractor if they have dealt with _____________ concern before. Ex. Have you dealt with any pregnant women before? Or carpal tunnel, jaw issues, rotator cuff injuries, *insert your symptoms here*. Chiropractors can deal with most musculoskeletal concerns and have the complete knowledge to do so. However, some may be more proficient than others. It is good to know that if you have a particular concern or have a new concern later on, that your chiropractor will refer you to someone else who is better at treating something. We are health professionals that have your best interest and would rather see you get better than to keep treating the same issues with no improvement. It can be difficult to assess whether or not a chiropractor is being honest, but at least you open that door for them to know if they can send you somewhere else. Summary: To watch out for chiropractors who seem insincere or who do not offer their honest opinion about a concern you have.
Others helpful hints:
Google your chiropractor
Ask if you need x-rays.
Bring other health documents with you (previous x-rays, MRI’s, lab results etc).
Ask if you want multiple health practitioners to coordinate care and if they can do that (they should do this anyways with your consent).