What to Expect from your First Visit
What is Chiropractic?
A chiropractic adjustment generally takes 10 to 30 minutes, but your first visit will last an hour or so, since the chiropractor will take time to discuss and record your health history, perform other preliminary procedures, make a diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan. You may or may not receive treatment on your first visit.
Once your treatment begins, but before actually starting the adjustment, the chiropractor may use a vibrator to relax your back. Other preparations may include hot or cold compresses and even traction.
You’ll lie down on a specially constructed treatment table designed to make any chiropractic treatment comfortable.
Treatment generally involves adjustments or manipulations of your spine (and/or other joints) via hand pressure in a very specific and skillfully controlled movement. This is designed to improve vertebra or joint mobility, which is said to improve joint and/or nerve function and/or reduce pain. (It may be that the manipulation triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers.) In turn, the objective is to restore normal symmetry and dynamics to the musculoskeletal system’s overall movements.
Different practitioners use different techniques. Most of the work probably will be done to your back, and other joints or muscles may be involved.
The chiropractor applies pressure to the problem joints (those with abnormal movement patterns or that don’t function normally) to return them to their proper function. The adjustment generally consists of an expertly designed movement to the joint. You’ll most likely hear a popping sound—it’s like cracking your knuckles. This should not cause any pain, and often produces immediate relief.
Your chiropractor may use other approaches as well, including electrical stimulation, traction, nutrition education and management, and massage therapy. Heat can help relax muscle spasms and relieve chronic pain. Electrical muscle stimulation uses and electric current to reduce pain and muscle spasm. The chiropractor may also recommend a regimen of exercise.
Treatment may involve several visits a week for two or three weeks; you and your chiropractor will come up with a treatment plan. Chiropractic care is usually most effective (especially for low-back symptoms) in the first few weeks. If you don’t feel improvement in 8 to 12 visits, a re-evaluation may be required to determine if a new approach or referral is needed.
What It Will Feel Like
With the popping, you will probably feel a sense of relief. A few patients report experiencing some muscular soreness or mild discomfort, particularly if the body is tense or if the surrounding muscles are in spasm. Don’t worry if you are sore after an adjustment—it’s perfectly normal and usually can be relieved by putting a cold pack on the sore area. But if the pain continues more than a day or two, you should call your chiropractor. He or she may need to change your treatment. Many people say they feel relaxed and exhilarated after an adjustment—and that’s also normal.
The American Chiropractic Association stresses that when an adverse reaction occurs, it is often the result of the procedure being performed by someone inadequately trained in spinal manipulation, rather than a licensed chiropractor. The ACA also notes that some studies put serious mishap at one in 10 million treatments. This compares to some 50,000 deaths out of 10 million admissions to hospitals from medical mistakes!
Everyday Reasons You May Not Be Feeling Well:
• Crossing your legs may cause hip pain.
• Wearing high-heeled shoes may cause lower-back and leg pain.
• Keeping your wallet in your back pocket may cause hip pain.
• Stressors may cause upper back and neck pain.
• Traumatic accidents may cause chronic back pain years after
• the accident occurred.
• Not drinking enough water causes muscle pain.
• Using the wrong kind of pillow may cause neck pain.
• Poor nutritional habits may cause fatigue.
There are many, many more everyday reasons you may be having pain. Your chiropractor will go over these, as well as others to try and change your everyday habits.