Have you scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor to help you with your neck pain? Here’s what you can expect.
Your Initial Chiropractor Visit
Your initial visit to the chiropractor will be very similar to a visit to any other medical center. You will be asked a series of questions about your medical history and will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your general family health history. The chiropractor will ask you to indicate where you are experiencing pain and may ask you to mark on a diagram of the body the exact location.
Once the chiropractor has collected your medical history, they will complete a physical exam. You may be asked to bend and move so they can assess your range of motion and strength. You might want to come dressed in clothing you are comfortable lying down and moving in.
Since the chiropractor is looking for the root cause of your pain (and it may not be in the neck!) they will perform a physical exam that takes into account your back alignment, your hip flexibility, and your overall posture.
X-rays may be taken during the exam and can be very helpful in diagnosing the cause of your neck pain. X-rays help the chiropractor see fractures, broken bones arthritis, degeneration of the disks and any other abnormalities that may be contributing to your neck pain.
During your visit, discuss what you expect to achieve as a result of your treatment. You may think at the beginning that all you want is for the pain and discomfort to go away, but your chiropractor will discuss overall strength and wellness to ensure this type of pain won’t come back again. They will inform you of your current health status and then create a plan to help you reach your goals.
After your assessment, your chiropractor will use the results to develop a plan for your treatment.
This plan will be based on:
- Your health goals for the future
- The underlying physical condition of your neck, spine and posture
- How long the pain and discomfort have been present
- Improving strength and flexibility
- Addressing lifestyle habits and conditions that may be contributing
The Chiropractic Adjustment
The key element of a chiropractic visit is the adjustment, which may or may not happen at your first visit. During an adjustment, the chiropractor will use therapeutic manipulation to correct any misalignments in your joints and spine. These manipulations will capitalize on leverage, direction, force and velocity in targeted movements directed at the problem area.
Most of the adjustments will be made to your spine, but other joints, such as your knee, elbow, wrist or shoulder, may need adjustments as well. The adjustments will be made with the aim of improving joint function and restore the alignment of your body. This can improve both your mobility and flexibility as well as reduce or eliminate your pain.
If you are seeking treatment for neck pain, you may need to receive several adjustments over time. Understand that your body has been dealing with the pain by putting tension on the muscles and doing its best to keep you moving through the pain. The longer you have lived with pain, typically, the tighter your muscles will be – pulling your spine and neck bones out of alignment. This is the reason for the requirement of more than one visit to your chiropractor. Often patients can help themselves heal faster if they do the prescribed exercises between chiropractic visits. Be sure to ask how you can help your body heal between visits.
These adjustments can be scheduled within a few days or over the course of several weeks to help improve function and reduce irritation gradually. The number of adjustments you need should reduce over time as your pain is eliminated and joint structure is improved.
In addition to adjustments, your chiropractor may use other methods to improve your alignment and offer relief for the pain. This can include electrical stimulation, exercises, education about diet and weight loss, or the use of ice or heat to relieve pain.
Common Questions About Chiropractic Appointments
What should I wear?
You will be fully clothed during your visit. The chiropractor will be making adjustments and manipulating your arms, legs and back. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that allow flexibility and motion.
What kind of equipment is used?
Your visit will take place in a room similar to most medical facilities. In a chiropractic office, however, there will be cushioned tables designed for you to lay face down, so the table may be more comfortable than you expect. The chiropractor may use equipment such as a TENS machine to apply electrical stimulation to your joints, or other exercise equipment to help you stretch.
Are chiropractic methods safe?
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, safe form of medical care. In most cases, chiropractic care has less risk than other forms of medical care where surgery and prescription drugs are used.
Will it hurt?
A chiropractic adjustment is a procedure performed by a trained medical professional. This procedure is done with minimal force or pressure and is unlikely to hurt. In a majority of cases, patients report feeling relief almost immediately.
Will I be sore after my appointment?
Most people report that they may feel tenderness similar to what you would feel after beginning a new exercise routine. Light stretching, drinking plenty of water and applying an ice pack as needed will help ease any soreness you may feel.
How long is an appointment?
Your initial visit will take longer as the chiropractor needs to collect your medical history and assesses your current physical health. As you discuss your health goals with the doctor, they will determine the best treatment plan to help you reach your goals. This visit may last as long as 30 minutes. Return visits, however, may only take 10 – 15 minutes.
Are you struggling with neck pain after sleeping? If your pain hasn’t gone away after 3 weeks, it may be time to seek medical help. Our comprehensive treatment programs can help you recover from neck pain. Call today!