What to Expect During Your First Chiropractic Visit

A chiropractor assists a man with an arm stretch exercise on an examination table in during his first chiropractic visit

There are a number of reasons that someone might look into chiropractic care whether they’ve suffered a car accident or sports injury, are experiencing joint pain, or have posture issues. Everything online about chiropractors and the work they do can be a confusing rabbit hole of information to navigate, and not all of it is true or accurate. So, when it comes to a service that can have important benefits if performed correctly, how does one go about setting up a chiropractic appointment with a provider they trust? And what can you expect from your very first chiropractic visit?

Let’s discuss the typical methodology that goes into selecting a chiropractor, scheduling your appointment, what you’ll need to know and bring, and what will likely take place during the appointment itself. Knowing what to expect from your first chiropractic visit will help you walk into your appointment with confidence and peace of mind. Preparing ahead of time for your first appointment also allows you to better advocate for yourself if something doesn’t feel right.

Preparing for Your Chiropractic Appointment

If you have questions about how to prepare for your first chiropractic visit, there are two main things you’ll need to consider – choosing a chiropractor and gathering important information. We’ll look at how to navigate both of these crucial preparatory steps to start you off on the right foot.

How To Choose the Right Chiropractor

Before you can attend your first chiropractic appointment, you have to decide which practice and which chiropractor is right for you based on your needs. There are a few ways you can go about verifying your options, and we suggest doing all of them to ensure your research is thorough and you’re as confident in your decision as possible.

  • Check Websites – Looking at a chiropractic practice’s website is the easiest way to gain some quick insight into what services the practice provides and get an idea of how well-maintained their marketing and communications are.
  • Call Around – Calling multiple practices will give you the opportunity to compare the quality of customer service and ask different practices any questions you may have that aren’t answered on their website.
  • Check Credentials – This is a very important step in the process of choosing a chiropractor. You can visit Healthgrades.com to search for a licensed chiropractor, see their qualifications, and read reviews from other patients. You can also contact the state licensing board to verify a chiropractor’s license or certification or visit the online License Verification page of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) to see the status of a provider’s license and any public disciplinary cases or complaints against them.
  • Read Reviews – Read as many online reviews as possible from different practices to get a good idea of how they generally perform in the eyes of their clients. Check not only the average review, but also how many reviews. A 4-star practice with thousands of reviews might be preferable to a practice that has 5 stars but only a couple of reviews. Read good, bad, and average reviews to see what it is people are praising or complaining about. This will help you see red and green flags in practices before visiting them yourself.

What To Bring to Your First Chiropractic Visit

Once you’ve chosen a provider and scheduled your first appointment, you will likely be given a list of information to have ready with you when you arrive. These things typically include any medical history documents, a list of your current medications, and your insurance information.  Having these things ready will make the new client intake process go faster and smoother so you can spend more of your time being treated.

Having your medical documents ready will be vital for the chiropractor to come up with a plan of action for treating you based on the symptoms you’re experiencing and how anything in your medical history could be relevant or limiting to that treatment plan. Depending on what your medical history looks like, a chiropractor may or may not recommend certain services or may make adjustments to accommodate certain limitations or obstacles.

Knowing what medications you’re on is also important for your chiropractor to know because medications can affect the body in a variety of ways. They will need to know what medications may interact with, what might cause irritation in combination with certain medicines, and other potential side effects that could alter the way they approach your treatment.

A healthcare professional assists a patient with neck exercises during their first chiropractic visit.

What To Expect from the Initial Consultation

The appointment itself will likely be divided into several stages, beginning at check-in and ending with your first treatment if all goes according to plan. If you’ve done thorough research into the practice you’ve chosen, you should be feeling confident, although it is normal to be nervous the first time you try anything new, especially in regards to your health. Likewise, if you’ve prepared all the relevant information about your medical history, you should feel ready to answer any questions during your visit.

Check-In

For your first appointment, you may be asked to arrive slightly before your scheduled appointment time so you can fill out the required intake paperwork, or you may have been sent intake forms via email and already filled them out. Either way, once the receptionist has all the preliminary paperwork, they will likely walk you through an overview of the layout and facilities and explain their individual process to you. They will also take this time to see if you have any questions left before the appointment. Once they’re ready, you’ll be taken back to see the chiropractor.

Discussing Health History & Goals

Once your chiropractor is ready, they will meet with you and introduce themselves before getting to know more about you. They will ask you important questions about your medical history, which is where having that information ready will come in handy, and tell you to describe the symptoms you’re experiencing and what you would like to get out of your chiropractic sessions. They may also ask you questions about your hobbies, lifestyle, and activity level to help determine the cause of your symptoms.

The Physical Examination

The next thing your chiropractor will want to do is examine you physically to get a more detailed idea of the severity and causes of your symptoms. They will perform reflex tests to rule out any neurological issues that could be causing problems with mobility, as well as muscle strength tests to see if underdeveloped muscles are not providing you with adequate support. They will also check your posture and range of motion by observing how you stand, walk, and perform on standard range of motion tests. During this time, they will also take note of any pain triggers.

A woman receiving a spinal adjustment at her first chiropractic visit

What To Expect during the First Adjustment

After the initial consultation and physical examination portions of your appointment, your chiropractor should have enough knowledge about your situation to put together a treatment plan for you. They will explain their findings, inform you of things you can do to aid recovery and prevent further injury, and discuss their treatment recommendations with you. At this point, you will once again be able to ask any questions you may have in regard to the proposed treatments. At this point, if it is determined that chiropractic services can benefit you, you will receive your first adjustment.

Explanation Before Adjustment

Before performing the first adjustment, your chiropractor will give you a detailed rundown of what to expect during and after. They will describe some of the common techniques used in chiropractic adjustments so you know what is being done to you. You will also be informed of what sounds and sensations are normal to hear and feel during an adjustment. Your chiropractor will also explain to you what you’ll need to do following the adjustment. They’ll let you know what level of soreness is normal, how to ease recovery time at home, and give you a list of stretches and exercises to perform.

During the Adjustment

During the actual adjustment, your chiropractor should be communicative and explain everything to you as they do it. This will help provide you with peace of mind, as you will likely be experiencing some sensations you aren’t used to feeling. They should check in with you after each adjustment to assess your comfort level. If at any point during the adjustment, you feel pain or discomfort, make sure to communicate that to your chiropractor right away so they can make changes to their technique based on your feedback.

After the Adjustment

Once the adjustment is complete, your chiropractor will check in with you again to assess how you feel after treatment. They will reiterate any home care instructions to you and make some recommendations to follow up. They will let you know how often they recommend you return for future visits, what services they recommend as part of your treatment plan, and finally answer any last remaining questions you may have.

Your First chiropractic Visit Experience

With all this information in mind, you should be feeling more confident about how to go about scheduling your first appointment with a chiropractor. You’ll know how to compare and decide on a practice, what to have ready for your initial consultation, and what to expect throughout the appointment itself. Remember, when choosing and visiting a new chiropractor, you should always ask questions if you have them and speak up if you have any concerns. Your chiropractor is here to help you on the path to better wellness, so they will welcome any questions and feedback so they can provide you with the best and most helpful experience possible.

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