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Good chiropractors do everything in their power to help relieve their patient’s symptoms as fast as possible with as few treatments as necessary, and also give advice on how to avoid future episodes of back pain or sciatica.
This article explains what patients can expect during the first chiropractic consultation, which involves the chiropractor completing a thorough chiropractic exam lasting 45 minutes or more.
In preparation for the chiropractic consultation, an individual will be asked to fill out forms that provide background information about the symptoms and condition. Types of questions the doctor of chiropractic might ask include:
- When and how did the pain start?
- Where is it located?
- Is it a result of an injury?
- What activities/circumstances makes it better?
- What activities/circumstances makes it worse?
Patients are also usually asked to provide information on family medical history, any pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries, and previous and current health providers and treatments.
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A thorough chiropractic exam includes general tests such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and reflexes, as well as specific orthopedic and neurological tests to assess:
- Range of motion of the affected part
- Muscle tone
- Muscle strength
- Neurological integrity
Further chiropractic exam tests may be necessary to assess the affected area (such as having the individual move in a specific manner, posture analysis, or chiropractic adjustment of the affected body part).
Based upon the results of the history and chiropractic exam, diagnostic studies may be helpful in revealing pathologies and identifying structural abnormalities that can be used by the chiropractor to more accurately diagnose a condition. Diagnostic studies are not always necessary during the chiropractic exam.
The most common diagnostic studies during chiropractic exams include:
- X-ray exam
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan
- Other laboratory tests
Many chiropractic clinics can perform basic X-rays, but an MRI scan and more extensive imaging studies may be referred to an outside center.
History, physical examination and any diagnostic studies lead to a specific diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is established, the chiropractor will determine if the condition will respond to chiropractic care.
The chiropractic doctor will explain a patient’s:
- Diagnosed condition
- Individualized chiropractic treatment plan (or other treatments)
- Anticipated length of chiropractic care
For more on chiropractic treatment plans following diagnosis, see the next section of this article.