It can be daunting seeing a chiropractor for the first time and not knowing what to expect. That’s why we have created this page explaining everything that goes on at your first visit.
If you are thinking of making an appointment, or have already made one, please feel free to get in touch and ask any questions prior to the appointment. You are also very welcome to bring somebody with you for support, in case you forget to mention something, or just as another pair of ears.
Our reception team are very knowledgeable and are only too happy to help, although any clinical questions are best left until you are speaking with your chiropractor.
When you arrive your chiropractor will normally be available to greet you straight away, but if they happen to be running a few minutes late please take a seat and make yourself at home.
It is our promise that your chiropractor will always greet you with a smile, and when they have introduced themselves they will ask you to come into the consultation room.
At this point, don’t feel obliged to sit down, just do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Some people prefer to stand, others get more relief by pacing around, some people even lie on the treatment table.
The first thing your chiropractor will do is ask you what the problem is, but don’t feel you need to give them every single piece of information at this point. Your chiropractor will be asking you lots of questions and there will be plenty of time to say things as they come into your head.
Your chiropractor will ask you to fill in a basic information form that lets us know your contact details and medical history. It can be helpful to have a list of medications you are taking to hand.
Discussing your medical history and understanding your symptoms are incredibly important steps in the diagnostic process and everybody is unique. So please be patient if this part of the consultation seems long-winded, we just want to really understand what’s going on.
During the history taking process you may be asked what you feel are unrelated questions, but your chiropractor is just trying rule out any non-mechanical causes of your pain or any complicating symptoms.
The next stage is physical examination. Typically you will remain clothed for this, although in some cases you may be asked to change into a gown. Some movement of clothing to may be necessary for the chiropractor to properly assess you.
Physical examination varies from person to person, but usually involves neurological testing, postural assessment, functional screening, joint and muscle palpation and orthopaedic testing.
Neurological testing helps understand if you have any problems affecting your nerves or nervous system. This can require tapping your arms and legs with a hammer, tickling your feet, wiggling your hands and a number of other peculiar seeming tests.
Postural assessment and functional screening basically means looking at how you stand, sit and lie, and how you do certain movements. This is very helpful in terms of determining the underlying cause of your problem. If you are in a lot of pain, some of this assessment may be deferred until you are more comfortable.
Joint and muscle palpation is where your chiropractor feels how well your joints are moving, and whether pressure from certain angles causes pain. It is also where your chiropractor feels for muscle spasms, knots, trigger points or scar tissue.
Orthopaedic testing refers to specific stress tests that provoke different tissues. They usually require putting a joint or body part in a specific position and gently loading it to see if this elicits pain.
Your chiropractor will normally ask you questions during the examination process and will advise you what they are doing throughout. If at any point you a test causes you pain, shout out. There are no points for bravery.
Examination can sometimes leave you feeling a little worse for wear, but your chiropractor will advise on ways to mitigate any aggravation you experience.
After examination your chiropractor will ask you to take a seat again and will discuss the findings of their assessment. This is often called a report of findings and is always done on the same visit as examination. We don’t want to leave you in suspense!
Your chiropractor will describe to you which tissues are causing your symptoms and why they have become painful. They may use models or diagrams to illustrate how your problem occurred. Please let us know if we are being too technical to too simplistic for you.
Your chiropractor will also advise the likely future course of your symptoms, or prognosis, before advising on the different types of treatment available to you. They will discuss the merits and drawbacks of each treatment and make a recommendation, but you are totally free to decide upon any course of action you wish to take.
If you elect to have treatment with us, this is usually included in your initial appointment with no extra charge.
Chiropractic treatment consists of various manual therapy methods. Your chiropractor will describe what is about to happen at each juncture and will ask if you are comfortable throughout.
More information on what kinds of treatment chiropractors offer can be found on our chiropractic treatment page.
The amount of treatment you will receive on your first visit varies from person to person, but may be slightly less than in subsequent visits to avoid increasing the risk of post-treatment soreness.
After treating you, your chiropractor may recheck how you move and will provide you with advice on things you can do at home to assist your recovery. We build on this advice at each session, providing you with more self-management methods as your symptoms ease and your tolerance to movement increases.
We send a follow-up email to all patients, reiterating some of the advice you received at your initial consultation. There is also a feedback form attached if you would like to leave any comments, which is totally anonymous.
Hopefully the above hasn’t put you off! Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery.