What To Expect At Your First Chiropractic Consultation

If you're considering seeing a chiropractor for back or neck pain, you're not alone. According to a 2015 report published by Palmer College of Chiropractic, roughly 50% of Americans reported that they visited a chiropractor as a patient at least once. And more than 50% reported having a positive experience with chiropractic approaches to treating back pain.

The chiropractic profession is relatively new. Modern-day chiropractic medicine has its origins in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer, the founder of Palmer School of Chiropractic, gave a deaf janitor a spinal "adjustment" and claimed the treatment restored the janitor's ability to hear. Palmer admitted that he was not the first to apply chiropractic methods to cure disease. Some historians believe that early forms of chiropractic methods go at least as far back as 2,000 years, based on depictions of spinal manipulations in Buddhist temples. And in around 400 B.C. Hippocrates, the father of Greek medicine, applied hands-on techniques to alleviate spinal issues. Later, in 16th century Europe, tradesmen called "bone-setters" gained skills in spinal manipulation through apprenticeships (via University of Minnesota).

How a chiropractor determines your treatment plan

According to the experts at WebMD, chiropractors target the network of bones, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments that make up your neuromusculoskeletal system. They apply hands-on manipulation techniques along with other supplemental treatments that may be able to help you manage pain and maintain proper alignment.

Before a chiropractor makes any back or neck adjustments, the experts at Healthgrades explain that your first consultation will likely last up to about an hour, allowing the chiropractor to get a fuller picture of your condition. Expect to fill out forms to report details such as how long you have been experiencing the pain, when it started, and if it was due to an injury. Once you provide this information, the chiropractor will analyze your reflexes, range of motion, and muscle strength, and perform general tests to determine your blood pressure, pulse and respiration. Sometimes chiropractors need more information, and so may also take an X-ray. If the chiropractor thinks your condition will respond to care, they will then provide a treatment plan that lays out short-term and long-term goals.

If you decide to move forward, expect to visit the chiropractor between six to 10 times for the treatment to provide a noticeable benefit. If your treatment plan does not end up providing the relief you expected, or you feel worse, you should visit your primary care doctor to discuss the best next steps to address your issue, per WebMD.