Are you considering chiropractic care? The following article is a primer to help orient you to chiropractic and what you can expect in your first few visits.
Why do people see a Chiropractor?
Most people first consult a chiropractor for help with some kind of pain, symptom or health problem. Chiropractic is widely known to be effective for back pain, neck pain, headaches, sciatica and other musculoskeletal problems. Chiropractic’s role in helping with other common conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, M.S., chronic fatigue, cancer, heart disease, immune deficiencies and childhood illnesses is not as well known yet has been established. Some people first visit a chiropractor to have a preventative exam done to check their level of spinal health and function; this is similar to visiting a dentist for a check-up even though you don’t have a toothache. The ideal way to use chiropractic care is similar to dentistry; an initial check-up to identify and correct spinal health problems followed by wellness care to keep healthy. It’s vital that you make the connection that an unhealthy spine x spinal neglect = poor health, regardless of your age!
Your First Visit
During your initial visit with a chiropractor you will fill out some forms regarding your health history and goals that the doctor will review with you. The doctor will want to know about previous as well as current physical, chemical and emotional traumas that may be affecting your spine and nerve system. I ask new patients many questions including if they’ve had their tonsils out, if they had recurrent ear infections as a child, if they have been in a car accident, and also try to get a sense of how their current lifestyle at work and home can be impacting their spinal and overall health. I always introduce my new patients to the main focus of chiropractic care: the correction of vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). VSC involves spinal misalignment which interferes with normal brain and nerve control of your organs, muscles and joints. VSC usually occurs first in childhood so an understanding of past traumas and health problems establishes a time-frame for how long VSC has been affecting your health.
Examination for VSC
After reviewing your health history with the doctor, an examination for VSC is performed. Testing usually includes postural exam, strength testing, spinal muscle and joint exam as well as checking for spinal vertebrae misalignment and loss of normal motion. These tests check for the presence of VSC and identify how it is affecting your health and function. For some patients, x-rays need to be taken to find out the degree of abnormal spinal curves and decay. After this visit, the doctor will take time to review the information gathered and analyze test results so a plan can be created that will correct and stabilize your spine.
Report of Findings
The report of findings is really the most important visit between you and your chiropractor. In my office the report of findings begins with a 30-40 minute talk which is crucial to get you up to speed with the latest understanding of health and healing. I will let you know why your body may not healing properly, and will introduce you to the most important yet most neglected system in your body. You will fully understand the connection between spinal health and whole body health and will be able to recognize a healthy spine from an unhealthy one. You will also learn the basics of spinal hygiene so you can care for your spine for your lifetime. After this talk I take my patients individually to review the results of their tests/x-rays. At this time I let my patients know what it will take to correct and stabilize their spine (amount of time and frequency of visits). The cost of care is also reviewed at this time. In my office I have several payment options which make care affordable for almost any budget. I also give my patients the opportunity to schedule check-ups for their family members to allow underlying spinal problems in their children to be identified and corrected if desired.
Some final important points
– chiropractic is not an either/or. In other words you don’t have to choose between chiropractic and medicine, chiropractic and massage, chiropractic and physiotherapy. To use the dental analogy again you can have dental care throughout your life and still get other forms of health care. You should keep your spine healthy with regular chiropractic care throughout your life regardless of other types of health care you may want to receive.
– once your corrective care is completed you will be given the opportunity to receive wellness care, which is care to maintain your spine in it’s corrected state as well as correct any new VSC that shows up from the ongoing stresses in your life. Wellness care is a great investment in your health; in only a few minutes every week or two you can keep healthy and avoid future problems. It is also very economical to maintain your corrective work with wellness care, rather than let your spine deteriorate again and need to re-visit the corrective phase in the future.
– make chiropractic a family affair! As a doctor of chiropractic my mission is to change the public perception of chiropractic from a pain relief option and bring it to it’s rightful place as a lifestyle to be healthy and feel great throughout your lifetime. So it’s vital that you understand that a healthy spine and nerve system is just as important for you as it is for your kids! By taking care of your child’s spine you can help them avoid spinal problems that are currently epidemic in adults and give them a healthy, drug-free future.