Chiropractic offices are not all the same. They can vary greatly depending on the doctor’s experience and philosophy of care. The 1-on-1 chiropractic consultation is your chance to find the right chiropractor for your needs.
During this first meeting, you’ll be able to see how the office operates and ask some basic questions about your problem.
Before Scheduling Your Chiropractic Consultation
Even before making an appointment for a consultation with a chiropractor, check for online reviews of both the doctor and the clinic. You may have to add the name of your city to get more specific results.
Additionally, you can contact your state’s chiropractic licensing board to ask about any complaints or disciplinary action that has been filed against the doctor.
Once you’ve made a decision, ask the following 10 questions during your first appointment to help determine whether the office is right for you.
- Keep in mind that an examination will not have been completed before the consultation. Recommendations may change once an exam has been performed.
1. Is A Chiropractic Consultation Free?
If there is a fee for the consultation, it will most likely be combined with the examination charge and possibly your first adjustment.
Chiropractors often do this (although not always) so there is only one cost for the entire first visit.
You might not know if you’ll want to proceed with the examination at the time you make the appointment, in which case ask what it will cost for the consultation only.
Most chiropractors I know offer this service for free, but it’s always good to make sure beforehand.
2. How long does a problem like mine typically take to fix?
Of course, this is impossible to answer with any certainty before you’ve been examined. Every person is different and every case is different.
However, an experienced chiropractor can make estimations based on similar past cases, your health history, and other questions you’ll answer on the office paperwork.
3. What adjusting techniques do you use?
There are dozens of chiropractic techniques for adjusting the spine. Doctor’s of chiropractic learn many of them during their formal education.
We also take courses in other methods after we graduate.
Some adjusting techniques are gentle while others are more forceful. Some result in “cracks” and “pops” while others make no sound at all. A few focus only on the upper neck while several require special instruments or tables.
Your chiropractic consultation is the time to ask about what techniques the doctor uses in case there is one in particular you’re looking for.
4. What other procedures can I expect?
Is physical therapy and/or rehab offered as part of your care? How about decompression? Massage? Acupuncture? Cold laser therapy?
These are additional services, aside from the spinal adjustment, that might be utilized in your recovery. Not all offices use them. Some chiropractors don’t employ any of them at all and choose only to adjust the spine.
Do you see why the consultation is so important? If you’re looking for a specific type of spinal care, you’ll save time and money with only a few simple questions.
5. How much will my care program cost?
We know that every new patient has 3 basic questions:
- Can you help me?
- How long will it take?
- How much will it cost?
Every effort should be made to answer these questions before your care program begins.
This first visit is also a good time to have the office staff check on any insurance benefits you have.
Note: You can call your insurance carrier yourself before your appointment to inquire about coverage.
6. What happens if my program changes?
I always tell my patients, “You’re on your body’s time. It’s not on yours.” Healing requires time and patience whether your problem is minor or severe.
There are many variables that determine how quickly your spinal health will improve, such as your genetics, the presence of arthritis or degeneration, past injuries, your lifestyle, etc.
What this means simply is that everyone heals at their own pace.
Because everyone responds to chiropractic differently, your plan of care may change along the way. You might need fewer adjustments than was originally expected, or perhaps more. Maybe there will be a need for further x-rays or an exam sooner than was scheduled.
How are such changes handled by the office? Are refunds issued? Are extra costs included in the payments you’re making? The reason this question is worth asking during your consultation with a chiropractor is to avoid surprises later.
7. When should we consider outside support?
To get the most out of your chiropractic experience, it’s important that you and your doctor maintain open and honest communication. Any chiropractor who is not willing to answer your questions should be avoided.
Keep in mind that the presence or absence of pain should not guide your schedule of care. The goal in chiropractic is to restore healthy spinal function, so we use our exam and other diagnostic findings to direct our strategy.
Having said that, there are times when pain or other symptoms are not resolving as quickly as was expected. In this case, a conversation should take place as to whether outside support (such as from a medical specialist) might be needed.
In my office, as long as spinal function is improving, I encourage my patients to stay the course. If progress stops, we have a talk about possible options.
8. What can I do (or avoid) at home to get better faster?
Sometimes rest is the most important thing you can do for a spinal injury. Other times, the right exercises or stretches are best.
Ice can be very helpful in certain situations and detrimental in others.
Should you try your friend’s inversion table? What about wearing a brace? Should you stay home from work / sports practice?
A patient can often get better much faster by doing the right types of home care and avoiding the wrong ones.
Your chiropractor will guide you in all these areas.
9. Are there scientific studies that support this approach?
You’ll find all kinds of strange “therapies” in some chiropractic offices these days. Spinal adjustments are not always the only service offered.
Although most chiropractors stick to traditional chiropractic techniques and some forms of rehab, massage, or other commonly accepted form of pain relief, there are a few that have abandoned chiropractic completely.
While it is legal (in most states) for chiropractors to practice energy healing, Reiki, chakra balancing, spiritual counseling, crystal therapy, etc., be aware that none of these should be considered the practice of chiropractic, nor are they taught as part of our chiropractic education.
There is nothing wrong with requesting scientific evidence for whatever services are being offered to ensure you are getting the most evidence-based approach.
10. Can I have my recommendations in writing?
Once your chiropractic consultation is completed, there will be a lot to consider. Getting your care recommendations in writing will allow you to go home and contemplate your options.
You may also wish to get a second opinion before taking the next step.
You should never feel rushed or pressured to begin care. If you’re uneasy about how the consultation is progressing, it might be a sign to step back and take a few days before jumping in.
Once you’ve followed this outline and had these 10 questions answered to your satisfaction, you’ve probably found a chiropractic office worth giving a try.