What To Expect During A Spinal Assessment Appointment
Navigating the healthcare landscape can be daunting, especially when faced with conditions that affect crucial parts of the body, such as the spine. For many, the anticipation of a spinal assessment appointment brings with it a sense of apprehension, mostly driven by the unknown.
Your first visit to a chiropractor can be a new and possibly intimidating experience. But understanding what a spinal assessment entails can alleviate any anxiety you might have. The role of the chiropractor is to diagnose and treat spinal health issues, which are often linked to broader health concerns.
In this article, you’ll learn the details of what occurs during this process, so that you know exactly what to expect.
Medical History Review
The first step in a spinal assessment appointment is a review of your medical history. The most common chief complaints that drive patients to see the doctor are back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint pains, whiplash, sciatica, scoliosis, pregnancy-related back pain, and sports injuries.
Your healthcare provider will typically ask about your symptoms, how long you’ve been experiencing them, and any previous treatment you’ve received. They may also ask about your general health, medical conditions, medications, and supplements you’re taking.
The succeeding physical examination will assess your posture, range of motion, and any tenderness, swelling, or pain areas. They may also perform neurological tests to check your reflexes, muscle strength, and sensation.
Chiropractors use various diagnostic techniques to assess the health of your spine and primarily look for alignment issues, movement restrictions, and other physical signs pointing to a spinal problem that could be treated with chiropractic techniques.
Doctors, particularly orthopedic specialists or neurologists, also conduct a spinal assessment. They might use similar physical examination techniques as chiropractors, but they also have access to a wider range of diagnostic tools, such as blood tests, advanced imaging studies, and other specialized tests.
If your healthcare provider suspects an issue with your spine, they may order imaging tests. These can include X-rays, computed tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone scans, or other imaging studies to better look at your spine and surrounding structures.
Sometimes, they might also perform or order neurological tests to assess nerve function. These tests can provide a detailed look at your spine and help diagnose herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or fractures.
Once your doctor has gathered all the necessary information, a diagnosis will be made. It may involve identifying a specific condition or determining whether further testing is needed. Your healthcare provider will discuss their findings with you and recommend a treatment plan or a referral to a chiropractor for joint management.
If you consult a chiropractor, they’ll explain the issue and propose a treatment plan for the identified problem. This plan could include a series of spinal adjustments and other therapies like massage, heat or cold therapy, lifestyle changes, and exercises you can do at home.
They should also inform you about the expected duration of the treatment and any potential risks or side effects. If other co-morbidities impact your symptoms or treatment, you’ll also be referred to a doctor.
Treatment Plan And Possible Interventions
The treatment plan for spinal issues will depend on the specific diagnosis. It may involve conservative treatments such as physical therapy, pain management, or medication. Surgery may be necessary for sports injuries, accidents, or tumors. The treatment options will be discussed to help you decide on the best action.
Sometimes, the chiropractor might perform the first treatment immediately after the assessment if the root cause of your pain has been established. Here’s what might occur to relieve you of pain and inflammation:
- Spinal Adjustments or Spinal Manipulation
- Soft Tissue Therapy
- Physical Therapy Modalities
- Exercises and Stretches
Your chiropractor might advise you about diet, exercise, ergonomics, and other lifestyle factors that can help alleviate pain and prevent its recurrence.
Remember, chiropractors’ methods will depend on your specific condition and symptoms. It’s also important to understand that while some people experience relief after a single treatment from a chiropractor, many conditions require a course of treatment for complete resolution.
The chiropractor should be able to provide a treatment plan and an estimated timeline for improvement based on your initial spinal assessment.
If you require ongoing treatment for your spinal issue, your healthcare provider will schedule follow-up appointments. These appointments will allow your healthcare provider to monitor your recovery and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.