Health Library

First chiropractic visit? What to expect

You've scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor but don’t know what to expect. Don’t worry. The American Chiropractic Association created some tips to help you feel at ease. 

You've scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor but don’t know what to expect. Don’t worry. The American Chiropractic Association created some tips to help you feel at ease. 

During the first appointment, the doctor will complete a thorough exam. This typically includes:

  • Patient history 
  • Physical exam
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment plan 

Let's take a closer look at each one. 

Patient History
You’ll be asked questions about your symptoms, such as:

  • When did your pain or condition start? 
  • Where is the pain located? 
  • Did the pain or condition immediately follow an injury or accident?
  • Does anything improve or worsen the pain?
  • What treatments have you already tried, and what was the outcome?

You’ll be asked to share information about medications, past treatments, family medical history, and pre-existing conditions. In some cases, you may be asked to share copies of previous tests, such as MRIs, X-rays, and lab results.

Physical exam
Next is a physical exam to evaluate your condition. The exam may include tests to assess:

  • Vital signs such as weight, height, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration
  • Range of motion of the affected area 
  • Muscle tone and strength 
  • Posture
  • Spinal and/or joint stability 

You might need tests or lab work to help with the diagnosis. The most commonly used tests include X-ray, MRI, CT or bone scan, and blood and/or urine analysis. Once the doctor has the information needed, he/she can determine whether chiropractic services are best for you.

Treatment plan
Your doctor will explain what the test(s) showed and what treatment plan is right for you. If your doctor determines that you should see another healthcare professional, he or she may make a referral. 

You and your doctor are partners in the decision-making process. Together, you will decide if chiropractic care is right for you.

If it is, your chiropractic doctor may use spine or joint manipulation or mobilization. This involves using the hands or instruments to reduce pain and/or improve joint function.

Based on your condition, chiropractic care may involve numerous visits. You might also receive advice on home care, lifestyle modifications, exercise instruction, and nutrition.

If you are seeking optimum health and wellness, and want to avoid prescription medication and medically invasive treatments, then chiropractic care may be the right choice for you.

To find a chiropractor near you, visit and select Find a Doctor. You can select “chiropractic” when searching “doctors by specialty.”

reviewed 10/16/2018

Source: Video: What to Expect On Your First Visit To A Doctor Of Chiropractic, American Chiropractic Association, Get Healthy with Chiropractic, October 9, 2014.

Related stories

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.