“What is a chiropractic examination anyway? Aren’t you just going to crack my back?” That’s not an all too uncommon thought process by some new patients, ready to try to skip the examination in order to jump right ahead to the adjusting. In our office, we just won’t do that. Why? While most patients are perfectly fine to adjust, it’s the small percentage of people that aren’t a good fit for chiropractic care that make us be thorough in deciding who and what parts of the spine we can adjust.
When looking to make a diagnosis, there are several symptoms can be a symptom for a ton of different problems. One is a fever. A fever could be an infection, but an infection from what? Saying you have a fever gives an initial starting point, but it’s a long way from determining what’s actually wrong with you. The same goes for back pain. How you got the back pain, your medical history, and a ton of different factors will determine if you back pain is a chiropractic problem or one that requires a referral out of our office.
Even if your back pain is a chiropractic problem, we need to be specific as to which vertebrae we will adjust (or those that we won’t). Every time we think x-rays are unnecessary overall, there comes the person that the only way we would have known that they weren’t a good candidate for chiropractic care was via x-ray. We’ve found fractures, tumors, or just underlying conditions that would have made getting adjusted a problem for their condition. That’s why we only take x-rays when necessary, but we will err on the side of caution in each case.
Our new patient examination includes palpation (feeling the spine with our hands) where we are looking for areas of the spine that are stuck or out of alignment (or both). You’ll typically just feel the pressure of our hands touching your spine, but you may feel a tender spot over an area of inflammation. Those tender spots are usually areas of the spine that are not functioning correctly.
We will also check your spine’s ranges of motion. We’ll see how far your neck and back move forward, back, turn, and tilt from side to side. While this is a “range,” we’re really looking for imbalances. An imbalance is where you can turn your head 90 degrees to the right, but only 50 degrees to the left — something isn’t working right.
We’ll also perform orthopedic and neurological tests – which are designed to check the function of the joints and the nerves. Each test has a different positive result and will give further information as to what’s wrong with you and what might be needed to help you get the pain relief and results you want.
The most important part of an examination is just to have one. It’s not fair to you, nor is it the safe thing to just lay down on the adjusting table and have us start adjusting you without learning more about your spine and how it moves. A chiropractic examination is a necessary first step in helping you get the right care for your problem.