When you visit a chiropractor, you have a wide range of services they can provide. Some of these are:
- Reduce or eliminate back pain
- Treat headaches and migraines – mostly the chronic kind that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications
- Treat neck pain with manipulation of the spine in, around, and below the neck
- Treat other kinds of musculoskeletal pain such as arthritis in addition to strains and sprains
- Some chiropractors even do sports physicals. Most chiropractors also offer nutritional counseling and vitamin injections to their patients
What services should you expect from an initial visit?
The first visit is generally longer than follow-up visits. This expert will ask about your pain and any other symptoms you have, including the duration of the problem. And they’ll probably do a physical exam to see if there are trigger points or muscle spasms that might be causing some of that pain.
What kind of treatments do chiropractors use?
There are two kinds of treatments: manual and activator. With manual therapy, the chiropractor uses their hands to adjust the patient’s bones and soft tissues to go back into proper alignment.
The other kind of treatment, activator, uses a mechanical device called an “activator,” a spring-loaded hand tool. The activator delivers precise force, about 2 to 3 ounces of pressure, that can be felt but not cause discomfort. The device applies this gentle force for just a few seconds and is designed to help reduce swollen tissue and calm down muscle spasms.
Spinal Manipulative Therapy
Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is a powerful, proven technique that uses controlled force to stretch and relax muscles and joints. The spine is then adjusted back into proper alignment by the chiropractor’s hands or an instrument such as an activator tool.
SMT is clinically effective for acute low back pain, sub-acute low back pain, sciatica, neck and shoulder pain, sports injuries to the extremities (e.g., ankle sprain), and whiplash-associated disorders. SMT effects are cumulative; the more treatments you receive, the better your results will be.
What will happen during the initial visit?
The expectation is that you will fill out some paperwork and talk with the doctor about your symptoms and what you hope to get from treatment. The doctor will do a physical examination, including measurements of range of motion and strength on different sides of your body. Most chiropractors will also recommend x-rays on the first visit, even though it is not a standard medical practice. Some chiropractors will perform additional diagnostic testing, such as thermography or electrical muscle studies; however, this depends on the methods of individual doctors.
Bring your insurance information with you to make sure you’ll be covered for any treatment. Some chiropractors also work out discounted cash rates if your insurance doesn’t cover everything.
Does chiropractic treatment hurt?
You may experience some discomfort during the first few visits but will likely feel much better very quickly. The doctor can adjust and modify treatment to make it more comfortable for you. Most people report that they feel relief from pain after just a couple of treatments, though it may take longer depending on the severity of your condition.