An appointment anywhere new is a bit unsettling, no matter where or who it is you are going to see; a new dentist, hairstylist, and the chiropractor.
This is even more so if you know next to nothing about what a chiropractor actually does.
You probably googled what chiropractors do and seen some pretty shocking videos. You might have read some half-truths or even flat out myths about what a chiropractor does, doesn’t do, and what you should expect.
Before Your Appointment
If you have already seen other doctors, chiropractors, or other health care professionals and you have any medical records regarding treatments performed, x-rays, CT scans, MRI’s or other records that relate to the problem you are having now, be sure to collect these and bring them with you.
Be prepared to give the chiropractor your full medical history. If you need to write things down, be sure to bring that list.
If you plan to use insurance, bring any ID cards or other paperwork that you might need. If you aren’t sure about your insurance, you might want to call them and ask about coverage or deductibles. Your chiropractor’s staff might be able to help you in this area.
Now that you have everything ready to go- let’s look at the top tips for how to prepare and what to expect for your first visit.
Tip #1: Arrive Early
Like all medical office visits, there is always a little paperwork to complete, no matter how well in advance you have tried to prepare. New patient forms, insurance forms, contact forms, etc. Since most offices work on an appointment basis, it is a common courtesy to arrive at least 15 minutes early so you can complete any necessary paperwork and still be on time for your actual appointment.
If for some reason you can see that you won’t make it early (or even on time) please call the office and let them know so they can make whatever changes they need to in order to keep the flow of patients moving so no one is inconvenienced.
Tip #2: Dress for Comfort
Unless something unexpected happens, you should expect that your visit will include your first chiropractic adjustment. This means lying on a table, sometimes face up, sometimes face down, and often in a variety of other positions as well, including on your side.
While chiropractors rarely need to remove clothing, it is sometimes necessary for imaging, such as x-rays.
If you have any prosthetic devices (such as a foot or leg) or if you wear any medical appliances (such as a colostomy bag) please tell your chiropractor or the nurse in advance.
Ladies: High heeled shoes are not appropriate. You can remove them, of course, or wear tennis shoes or flats. You will feel more comfortable in loose fitting slacks and a T-shirt, not a dress. Shorts are fine, but tight- fitting jeans will be very uncomfortable. We are often asked if wearing a bra to the chiropractors is necessary. Do what makes you feel comfortable, but chances are that you will feel better wearing a bra or sports bra. If you wear an underwire bra, you might need to remove it for x-rays. Most women find that a sports bra, tennis shoes, and loose-fitting athletic clothing are the most comfortable choice.
Gentlemen: Any tight fitting or constrictive attire will make your visit uncomfortable at best. This means that ties, belts, suspenders, and dress shoes should probably be left at the office or be prepared to remove them. The same is true with very tight jeans. Most men find that tennis shoes and loose-fitting athletic clothing, such as sweatpants and t-shirts, are the most comfortable.
Tip #3: Be Ready to Consult Your Chiropractor
While your chiropractor is a health care expert, he isn’t a mind reader. Be prepared to tell the doctor everything you can about your pain. How it started, how long you have had it, when it happens, what seems to make the pain worse or better, and what you have been taking to ease your pain, if anything.
Don’t be shy or ashamed to tell the doctor the truth. Chances are pretty good that you won’t shock him, and they have heard similar stories before. You can’t get the full benefit of treatment if the chiropractor isn’t fully aware of your problem and your lifestyle.
Tip #4: Be Ready for Your Exam Time
What will the chiropractor do on the first visit?
Don’t be surprised to find that your chiropractor is very much like other doctors in that they will order tests (usually x-rays or MRI’s), and a physical exam. The doctor might ask you to perform certain physical tasks, such as touching the floor or walking across the room and back. This is all part of the evaluation process.
Tip #5: Expect an Unexpected Treat
Some chiropractors like their patients to have a massage before they do adjustments. Others prefer the massage afterwards. This will depend on the chiropractor and your unique circumstances, but most people don’t expect a lovely, relaxing massage from their chiropractic visit. You will learn to love this aspect of your future visits and might find yourself returning just for massage after your other treatments have ended!
Tip #6: Prepare for Your Chiropractic Adjustment
Do chiropractors adjust on the first visit? Yes, they will.
Don’t let those videos you might have seen frighten you. Adjustments do not hurt and afterwards, they feel so good, you might wonder why you waited so long.
If you hear any popping or cracking noises, don’t be concerned. Nothing is breaking or actually cracking into pieces. This is simply trapped air being released from between the joints or discs, similar to the noises you hear when opening a soda bottle.
For a full explanation about what an adjustment feels like, this is a good article to read about it.
Tip #7: Don’t Forget to Ask
Chances are that your chiropractor will make a treatment plan for you. Be certain that you understand and ask any questions before you leave. You should also make your next appointment before you go and make a note of it in your phone, so you won’t forget!
After Your Appointment
Your chiropractor will probably explain to you that feeling a bit sore for a day or two afterwards is completely normal, especially if you were very nervous during your visit.
Other common side effects include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose or a feeling of fatigue. About 20% of patients report these symptoms. This is due to what is called toxic release. Adjustments can cause the body to remove a buildup of toxins, which means that the treatment is working well.
- Nausea. For a few people, adjustments, especially neck adjustments, can leave you feeling nauseous for a day or two. Not continuously, but off and on for 48-72 hours. This doesn’t mean that your body is rejecting the treatment, but it is simply a side-effect some people seem to experience.
- Headaches. This is another common side effect. Most people opt for a nap or an ice pack to stop the headache. They are rarely severe enough to consider over the counter pain medication and they are usually very short lived.
- Dizziness or Brain Fog. Adjustments can cause some people to feel what is known as brain fog or as if you are walking through a dream. This, along with a dizzy feeling, is also normal and can often be resolved by drinking a few glasses of water over the next few hours and taking a short nap.
While the above side effects can happen, don’t be alarmed if they don’t happen to you. If you have any concerns, call the chiropractors office.
You have nothing to fear at the chiropractor’s office and you will come to look forward to your next visit!
The Truth about Chiropractic Care
Before we talk about your appointment, let’s dispel a few myths about chiropractors and what they do so you can calm any fears your might have.
Chiropractors are doctors, who are specialists in the musculoskeletal aspect of the body. This means anything to do with the bones, muscles, tendons, joints, and other connective tissues are their specialty.
Chiropractors are health care professionals who believe in holistic treatments, which means they look for the root cause of the problem and treat the entire body, and don’t just hand you some pills to treat the symptoms.
They practice non-surgical, non-invasive, drug free treatment methods because they know that, in many cases, if you give the body what it needs, it can heal itself.
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At Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab, we want everyone to live their best, pain-free life. No matter what type of pain you are having, whether it’s back pain, neck pain, frequent headaches or carpal tunnel, we want to help. Call us for a same day appointment or click here to make an appointment online.
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.