First, Observation! It's important to understand movement is a big key to your function or dysfunction. When in pain movement is altered to reduce the pain. These altered movement patterns can contribute to further dysfunction. I want to see how you walk, stand, sit, lay down and breath. Ever think about breathing? I find dysfunctional breathing in most patients with pain. proper breathing is key to trunk and core stability, so if your breathing pattern is off, makes sense you'd be in pain!
Secondly, we'll have a lovely little chat. This is where we get to know each other while I get a little history. I want to know what you do every day, what you used to do and what you want to do going forward. Are you an accountant trying to make it through tax season, are you a high-level athlete trying to recover from a nagging hamstring that won't stay healthy or are you somewhere in between. I'm happy to help wherever I can but I'm not trying to make you something you aren't. I am not for everyone and I cannot fix everything. There is a limit to what I can do. One of the best indicators for care is your patient history. While we talk we will get to know one another and whether or not you are in the right office. This is important so we can be as efficient as possible while in the office. We all got things to get to so I'm not interested in keeping you here any more than necessary. Let's get you patched up and on your way again!
Third, I'll conduct a thorough physical exam that will include vitals, neurological exam, orthopedic exam, muscle testing, a movement screen, and reflexes. Before treatment is rendered it is imperative to make sure you are physically fit enough to do so. These exams are designed to ensure there isn't something more sinister going on that would necessitate a referral to your PCP. Without a physical exam, I could miss something that could cause me to hurt you even more. At the same time, they provide clarity to a foggy picture of dysfunction. Every step of the process provides more insight to the root of your problem. Although we do not perform imaging here (X-ray or MRI) we do have referral privileges at Health Images, located just south of town, and can have you seen, imaged and results in our office in the same day.
Fourth, appropriate treatment will be rendered. Depending on the primary complaint it may include some or all of the following: Chiropractic adjustment, palliative care (e-stim, heat, ice etc.), Soft tissue work, taping (k-tape or the like) and home exercises. I am a chiropractor and will always adjust when indicated and safe but its not adjusting for the sake of adjusting. I try to adjust with specificity, to make a change in the nervous system. Hearing a "pop" is good but if it doesn't improve function then what was really done? The first visit won't involve much adjusting of the spine. The focus will be making sure a few key areas are aligned. When addressing a problem you start with a narrow focus and get broader as you eliminate variables. Treatment on the first visit will be more soft tissue, extremities, breathing and exercises than adjusting.
Lastly, care plan. I like to see my new patients 2x/week for 2 weeks to make sure you're responding appropriately to care followed by 1x/week for 1 month to reinforce care and modify home exercises as needed. Home exercises are imperative to improvement. Dysfunction involves faulty motor patterns. In order to change them the patient MUST do the work, this is called active rehab. The treatment I perform (adjustments, e-stim etc.) are all passive. Passive therapies are helpful in reducing inflammation and correcting misalignments but they do not create new motor stabilization patterns for the joint. Therefore, if you want a change, you'll have to make it! Nothing new there, just thought I'd remind you.
At the end of the day, we were designed to move, pain-free. If pain causes you pain something is wrong and the sooner you have it looked at, the easier it is to fix. Pain shouldn't be a part of your day and I look forward to making sure it isn't but I can't do it by myself. So call for your appointment and let's see what we can do together to get you moving pain-free.