Be ready to provide your medical history, which will be essential for preparing a course of treatment for you. Medical records, such as diagnostic test results, or imaging results, such as X-rays and MRIs, also will provide important information about your condition.
Certain things in your health history are particularly vital to a chiropractor. This information could provide important clues that will allow your chiropractor to properly diagnose your problem. Some possible clues include whether you have or have had:
- Bone disorders, such as osteoporosis
- Circulatory problems (poor circulation could be a sign that you have a subluxation)
- Dizziness or blurred vision
- Heart conditions such as hypertension or high blood pressure
- Infections, especially those affecting your spine
- Injuries, such as bone fractures, muscle sprains, or disc injuries
- Joint disorders such as arthritis
- Sleep apnea
Be prepared to answer such questions as:
- Did the onset of your pain immediately follow an injury?
- Is there anything you do that improves or worsens the pain?
- When and how did your pain start?
- Where is the pain centered?
The physical exam
Here's what to expect:
The first order of business may include checking your vital signs, reflexes, and blood pressure.
Sometimes measurements will be taken to determine arm and leg length. You may be asked to do a series of simple and easy activities or exercises. These exercises will provide information about your motor skills, balance, and gait. These tests also help determine your range of motion, muscle tone and strength, and integrity of your nervous system. Any abnormalities could provide clues about your condition. You may be asked to:
- Bend forward, sideways, backwards, or rotate – Misaligned spinal vertebrae can sometimes be detected during this exercise.
- Flex and extend your leg – This is a test for signs of sprain and helps determine the integrity of your joints (Yeoman's Test).
- Grip something such as a rubber ball – Your grip strength is vital for showing signs of muscular or nerve damage.
- Lie down and raise one leg – The chiropractor gently pushes on your raised leg to check for hip joint mobility (Thomas Test).
- Stand and raise one leg – The chiropractor pushes on your raised leg to determine whether you have pain, inflammation, or imbalance in the joints between your spinal vertebrae. (Psoas Muscle Test).
- Stand or sit – Posture can show whether you have misalignments in your spine.
- Walk a straight line – This test measures your gait, and helps to determine if you have a normal walking pattern.
- Walk in Place – Abnormalities in the way your pelvis and spine coordinate are seen during this test.
Next, a short physical exam by the chiropractor will involve palpation, use of the hands, to explore the alignment of your spine and other structures. This provides information about your condition. A series of diagnostic tests may follow. These tests may include MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, blood work, or other laboratory tests.
The chiropractor may also consult with you about making important lifestyle changes such as exercise, nutrition, and smoking cessation to improve your chances of healing faster or preventing further injury.