The ultimate guide to booking a chiropractic appointment with everything you will ever need to know
Are you thinking about booking a chiropractic appointment but not sure how to choose a chiropractor or what will happen at your first appointment? This blog will go through what chiropractors treat, when you should and should not book an appointment with a chiropractor. How to find a good chiropractor, we will dispel common myths about chiropractors and go through what will happen at your first appointment.
What do chiropractors treat?
Chiropractors are well known for treating back pain but that is not all we do.
As per the World Federation of Chiropractic;
Chiropractors are trained to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health.
Conditions that chiropractors, such as myself, commonly treat are;
- Neck pain, headaches and migraines – if they are caused by problems in the neck (cervicogenic)
- Minor sports injuries
- Shoulder pain
- Low back pain
- Pelvic pain (such as SPD/PGP in pregnant women.)
How to know if a Chiropractor is right for you?
Is chiropractic treatment right for me? It’s something I am often asked. It can be difficult to know at what point you should seek treatment for the problem you have. Or how long you should leave it to get better on its own. The answer to ‘is chiropractic treatment right for me’ varies on the problem that you have. But here are a few guidelines.
Firstly, there are some symptoms which may need urgent assessment from a medical doctor to rule out a serious problem before booking a chiropractic appointment.
Symptoms such as
- Suffering from severe pain
- Not being able to weight bear on your legs
- Having ‘the worst headache of your life’ or a headache accompanied by changes in your vision, dizziness, nausea or vomiting or neck pain.
- Pain in your back or chest with difficulty breathing or arm pain.
- Chest pain with or without breathlessness.
- Headaches or dizziness after a head injury.
- Dizziness or shortness of breathlessness you have never had before.
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing or lifting up your arms.
If you are having any of these problems then you may need to seek medical advice. The best thing to do would be to to call 111. They can assess you and decide on the best place for you to go for help.
When to book a chiropractic appointment?
If what you are experiencing is not as bad as anything listed above – or you have already had your problem checked out by a GP and they have given you the all clear then it may well be time to see a chiropractor.
Often the mild to moderate annoying aches and pains cause people the most difficulty on establishing when to book an appointment. If the pain is severe or really stops them from doing things then they generally do not wait.
My advice is that if you have had a problem for more than 3 weeks then you should have it assessed. If the pain is more severe or if it is affecting your ability to do things you would do everyday then I would seek help on the same day or definitely within 5 -7 days
Generally the quicker you get a problem assessed, the less treatment you will need. As the muscles and joints will have had less time to get used to working in a bad position and compensating for it. The sooner you have treatment the sooner you can start making any postural changes and start doing exercises to help stretch tight muscles and strengthen any weak muscles.
It is worth remembering though that pain is not always the first sign of the problem. You can have a problem with how the muscles and joints are working in your body due to say, sitting badly at work or in the car, the problem can be building for many months before you get the pain.
A good example of this is the story I hear quite often:
“I was just bending down to pick up a piece of paper off the floor and my back went and I couldn’t move.”
Obviously it wasn’t the piece of paper that caused the persons back to go, but weeks, months or sometimes even years of poor posture, weak muscles and stiff joints that finally gave in at that point. Often when I discuss their problem in more detail there can be a history of the back being achy, having days of pain that has come and go and was ignored – these are often your body’s way of telling you that there is a problem building – before a small problem becomes a big one.
We have gone through how to know if a chiropractor is right for you and when you should book an appointment for that annoying ache, but what actually happens at your first chiropractic appointment?
All chiropractors work slightly differently but there will be a lot of similarities in what happens during your first appointment. So even if you are not able to come to Total Chiropractic this should give you a good idea what to expect from your chiropractic visit.
When you arrive at Total Chiropractic you will be asked to fill out a form. This form gives us information about the issue you are wishing to book an appointment for, and in addition about your general health and past medical history.
One question I am often asked is;
‘Why do you need to know this?’
Chiropractors are primary health care professionals which means that most of our patients come to us without seeing their G.P. We therefore need to take into account your general heath to help us decide whether you are suitable for chiropractic treatment or whether you need to be referred to your G.P, or elsewhere.
Once we have the forms filled in we can start the appointment.
We generally start by having a chat about your current problem; when and how it started, how painful is it, what makes it better or worse and have you had it before.
We will then ask you about your lifestyle in general, what you do for work and your hobbies or things you do in your spare time.
As well as questions about your general health and past medical history.
We can then move on to the physical examination. Usually you will be asked to undress down to your underwear. Women are given a gown to wear and men can bring shorts with them if they would feel more comfortable.
Chiropractors like to assess the body as a whole, so we will likely examine the area that you have the problem in and then other areas as well.
For instance if you came in with back pain we may also examine your hips, knees and feet to see if any problems there could be affecting your back.
Generally, chiropractors are interested in the function of the muscles and joints of your body and not just where you feel the pain. After we have finished an examination we will talk to you about our findings.
After we have talked to you about our findings you should know;
- What we think the problem is (our diagnosis)
- Whether Chiropractic treatment can help you
- If Chiropractic treatment cannot help you, who we will be referring you to and with what urgency
- If you are suitable for Chiropractic treatment – what the treatment will be, how much treatment you are likely to need and how long we think it will take for you to get better.
- What sort of home exercises, ergonomic changes or any other things we think you may need to do to help your recovery.
Will I be treated at my first chiropractic appointment?
If you are suitable for chiropractic care then we will discuss the treatment options with you and design a treatment plan for you. Any side effects of the treatment will be explained to you. If you are happy to go ahead then your first treatment will then usually take place. In my experience the majority of patients are treated on the first visit.
The only reason I do not treat patients on their first visit is:
1) If they are not suitable for treatment
2) I need further information such as x-ray/ MRI results before I feel treatment can safely take place
3) The patient does not wish to have treatment
After you have been treated we will go through your personalised home care advice and answer any questions you have and book any follow up appointments that you may need.
Trying to find a chiropractor near you?
If you are trying to find a chiropractor near you then you may well be in pain and looking for a solution. Perhaps you have a back injury you suffered last week, or seeking relief from a headache that you have just noticed is always there. Or maybe you have moved to a new area and are looking to continue your chiropractic care. Either way you are looking to find a chiropractor near you and you want to choose wisely.
Here are my top 5 tips to help you find a chiropractor near you.
(psst….. although I am talking about chiropractors in this blog the tips are the same for almost any private health professional)
1) Word of mouth
Ask around at work, ask your friends and family and see if anyone else sees a chiropractor or has heard of one in the area. These days word of mouth also includes social media. Many towns now have local Facebook groups such as Newbury and Thatcham Berkshire Facebook group.
2) Search Online
A quick google search of chiropractors and your location will bring up a list of chiropractors near you and information about them. You can then see if any of these match the word of mouth recommendations from your friends, family and work colleagues. Have a look at their website, see what the parking is like, perhaps they have treated the problem you have had in the past. You can also have a look at their social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see what advice they give and if any of it may help the problem that you have now.
3) Check professional qualifications and registrations
Chiropractors must be registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). They are then also registered with a chiropractic association, the largest of which being the British Chiropractic Association (of which I am a member), there is also the United Chiropractic Association, Scottish Chiropractic Association and the McTimoney Chiropractic Association.
Registration with the GCC has to be renewed annually. To renew our membership chiropractors must complete a set number of hours (CPD) and prove that they are of good character.
4) Check out their reviews
Look at the reviews that chiropractic clinics have on their facebook page and google reviews as well as on their website. This will give you an idea of what their patients think of the treatment they have received. The only caveat I would give with this is that patients may not like to leave reviews for their chiropractors. Even if they have been very happy with their treatment they may want to maintain their anonymity.
5) Contact them
Most chiropractors will be happy to talk to you over the phone about the problem you have. They probably won’t be able to speak to you straight away. There is a limit to how much advice they can give you over the phone but it is a great way to see what you think of them and to get a good idea of whether chiropractic care could help you or not.
Some chiropractors like myself also offer a Free Chiropractic Chat’ or ‘spinal screen’ appointment.
My Free Chiro Chat appointment is 20 minutes long. No treatment is involved but it is a chance for you to come to the Total Health West Berkshire clinic and talk to me about your problem. I can ask questions and complete a brief examination of the injured area. At the end of this I can tell you whether or not I can help you and how much treatment you are likely to need.
You can then choose to book an initial full consultation appointment.
I hope that now you will feel confident in choosing a chiropractor to help you with your problem.
Do you have other questions about finding a chiropractor or chiropractic treatment?
Simply ask below.
Total Chiropractic | email@example.com | 01635 791 301