What To Expect At Your First Chiropractic Visit

Patients typically visit a chiropractor for the first time through a personal reference or a referral of another health care specialist. At your first visit, you can expect the chiropractor to complete a thorough consultation that takes 45 minutes or more and includes:

Patient History

In preparation for your consultation with the doctor, you will be asked to fill out forms that provide background information about your symptoms and condition. Types of questions include:

  • When and how did the pain start?
  • Where is it located?
  • Is it a result of an injury?
  • What makes it better?
  • What makes it worse?

You will also usually be asked to provide information on family medical history, any pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries, and previous and current health providers and treatments.

Physical Examination

Once the history has been completed, your chiropractor will perform a thorough examination. In addition to general tests such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and reflexes, the examination will include specific orthopedic and neurological tests to assess:

  • Range of motion of the affected part
  • Muscle tone
  • Muscle strength
  • Neurological integrity

Based on the above examination procedures, further tests may be necessary to arrive at the assessment or diagnosis of the affected area (such as moving your leg in a specified manner, posture analysis, or the chiropractor manipulating your arm or leg).

Diagnostic Studies

Diagnostic studies are helpful in revealing pathologies and identifying structural abnormalities that more accurately diagnose a condition. They may or may not be necessary based upon the results of the history and examination.

The most common diagnostic studies include:

  • X-ray
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan
  • Laboratory tests

Many chiropractors can do basic x-rays in their office, but an MRI scan and more extensive images may be referred to an outside center for which an appointment is needed.


The culmination of the history, examination and diagnostic studies is a specific diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is established, the chiropractor will determine if the condition will respond to chiropractic care.

The chiropractor will explain:

  • The diagnosed condition
  • The treatment plan
  • The anticipated length of care