What to Expect From a Chiropractic Appointment


Approximately 77% of chiropractic care patients described their treatment as ‘very effective.’ However, scheduling your first set of rejuvenating treatments can be intimidating if you don’t know what to expect. Don’t let this prevent you from getting the relief you need.

In this article, we discuss what to expect from a chiropractic appointment. From how to prepare to what to wear and more, we give you the information you need for success. Continue reading to head to your first functional medicine appointment with confidence.

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care refers to a type of alternative medicine. This type of medicine is intended to help with problems involving the musculoskeletal system.

The term “chiropractic” means ‘done by hand.’ The phrase is demonstrated by the adjustments made to a patient’s body during treatments. Chiropractors work with patients experiencing issues with their spine, knees, necks, and more.

This type of holistic medicine deals with mechanical issues. For this reason, it’s also considered a type of functional medicine. Functional medicine focuses on the root cause of a problem.

Other types of medicine don’t take the same approach. Instead, they only focus on treating symptoms that provide temporary relief. In some cases, symptoms do not return but in others, they do.

First Chiropractic Care Visit

It’s important to adequately prepare for your first chiropractic care appointment. You need to mentally prepare, consider what to wear, and know what to expect from treatment that day.

It’s not uncommon for patients to be nervous about their first appointment. However, taking the time to consider these details ahead of time can help you relax.

How to Prepare

Preparation is the key to a good first experience with alternative medicine. After making your appointment, we recommend taking some time to think about your condition. Also, think about why you’re going to the chiropractor.

While your first thought might be, ‘I’m going because I’m in pain.’ However, we recommend you reflect on questions like the one below.

  • What does the pain feel like
  • Where is the pain located
  • How did the pain start
  • What makes the pain worse
  • How is the pain affecting your life

Being as specific as possible about your history, symptoms, and experience is going to help your chiropractor develop a treatment plan specifically designed with your needs in mind. Don’t be afraid to jot down some questions to ask as well.

First Examination

Once you arrive for your appointment, your chiropractor will learn about your history and symptoms. They’ll ask questions similar to those in the above paragraph, so have a list of notes ready to discuss.

The intake exam starts with simple vitals and tests. Information such as your blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and basic reflexes are entered into your chart. This helps create a baseline for your treatment since pain can increase certain vitals like blood pressure.

Functionality Tests

The next step in this type of holistic medicine is a series of functionality tests. Range of motion is one of the most common tests. Depending on the type of pain or injury, specific body parts are tested to help identify limitations.

Muscle tone, muscle strength, and neurological function are also common. This information is useful to your chiropractor because it shows where and how your injury or pain is affecting your body. It allows them to better understand your pain, too.

Creating a Treatment Plan

While you may or may not start any rejuvenating treatments at your first visit, you’ll likely walk away with a treatment plan. This involves details about the severity of your injury, your overall health, and your goals in the long term and short term.

Short-term goals are things you want or need to address quickly as well as can be addressed quickly. For some patients, this means reducing pain, improving flexibility, or improving balance to a certain level.

Long-term goals focus more on the big-picture of your life. Long-term goals depend on the type of injury or pain. These can look like increasing your quality of life by restoring your sense of independence or being able to complete tasks that have become challenging.

First Adjustment

In most cases, you will receive your first adjustment at your first appointment, but try not to feel frustrated if you don’t. The process of getting to know your condition is an essential part of chiropractic treatment and can take a lot of time.

Whether you receive your first adjustment at your first appointment or not, it’s important to set your expectations for these rejuvenating treatments. For some people, it’s difficult to start such treatment without setting accurate expectations.

During the Appointment

When preparing for your first adjustment, make sure you arrive wearing the right attire. We recommend wearing something comfortable and easy to move in. You should have a good range of motion in your clothing for activities like stretching.

The specific treatment schedule for your first treatment depends on your condition and your treatment plan. Your chiropractor will likely review the recommended treatment routine before getting started.

Adjustments are typically the central part of your appointment. The specialist uses different techniques to manipulate parts of your body such as different levels of force and angels to target different joints.

After the Appointment

Your experience after your first treatment depends on your unique condition. This is true for all types of medicine ranging from traditional medicine to regenerative medicine and more. One of the most common questions is about whether you’ll feel immediate relief.

Many patients feel looser and more relaxed after their first treatment. Feeling lighter and looser is a great experience for most but could be foreign to others. Regardless, this looseness is typically short-lived for the first few treatments.


Once you leave your appointment, be sure to hydrate. The process of chiropractic adjustments releases toxins that were once stored in your joints and muscles. Drinking plenty of water helps flush the toxins so they don’t return to these areas and promote pain.

In the days between your rejuvenating treatments, make sure to eat full, healthy meals and get enough rest. This helps ensure you not only improve your health but also have enough energy for your adjustments.

Do Your Part

Your chiropractor may send you home with stretches or exercises to do on your own. If this is the case, it’s important to dedicate time to these activities. You have to take an active role in your treatment if you want to enjoy the best results possible.

Concerns About Discomfort

Some patients delay holistic medicine such as chiropractic care because they’re afraid of additional pain. Hearing the sounds of popping joints or seeing heavy pressure applied to a body can be overwhelming for some.

It’s important to understand that your body adjusts to its condition quickly. If you’re suffering from a misalignment, then you may experience some soreness or discomfort after your first few treatments.

However, the pain tends to be minimal to mild. In some cases, patients may not even notice any changes for the first few days. Regardless of your experience, it’s important to stick with the process if you want to see results as fast as possible.

Common Rejuvenating Treatments

Alternative medicine such as chiropractic treatments involves several different techniques. It’s not uncommon for a chiropractor to recommend several different treatments for one condition.

Spinal manipulation is often the first treatment patients think of. While this is the most common among patients, there are many others to be aware of if you want to be prepared for your first appointment in functional medicine.

Therapeutic Exercise and Stretching

Therapeutic exercises help patients rebuild their balance and strength, especially if it’s deteriorated over time due to an injury or a medical condition. They also help with pain, muscle deterioration, and range of motion.

Your exercise regimen may or may not be accompanied by therapeutic stretches. These stretches help prevent reinjury, maximize your flexibility, and help you stay loose.

Your specialist may recommend you do these exercises and stretches at home or when experiencing certain symptoms. Be sure to follow their recommendations for optimal success.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is another common treatment plan addition. This involves the manipulation of soft tissue such as muscles and tendons. Your chiropractor may also use specialized instruments depending on the technique.

Muscle Stimulation

Muscle stimulation helps with issues such as muscle spasms and reduces muscle deterioration. The specialist uses electrical pulses at a low setting, which sends signals through electrodes attached to the skin.

When to Visit a Chiropractor

If you want to benefit from chiropractic medicine, it’s important to know when to visit a chiropractor. Delaying treatment can result in unnecessarily prolonged pain and worsening symptoms.

Pain From an Unknown Cause

If you’ve been to your primary care physician and can’t get relief from your pain, it may be time to see a chiropractor. Some pain may be due to a misalignment that traditional medicine can’t relieve as effectively.

Chiropractic care contributes to issues that result in fatigue, aches and pains, and even digestive problems. However, it’s important to rule out certain medical conditions before seeking treatment, which we’ll discuss shortly.

Chronic Pain

Those trying to avoid surgical repair or who are interested in holistic medicine tend to turn to chiropractic care for their chronic pain. It’s often used as an alternative to pain relief drugs.

Some treatment plans involve spinal manipulation as well as massage. After treatments, patients might be advised to apply warm compresses to soothe adjusted areas.

Other treatments may include lifestyle changes or behavioral changes. For example, if you slouch or make certain movements, your chiropractor might suggest different postures and biomechanics as well as in-practice treatments.

Migraines and Tension Headaches

Chronic tension headaches or migraines come from several sources such as stress, trouble sleeping, or even spending too much time looking at a computer screen.

When you seek alternative medicine for these types of issues, you’ll receive a holistic approach to care. We’ll help you identify your headache triggers and create a treatment plan for the necessary adjustments.

When NOT to Visit a Chiropractor

While it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible, there are some instances where visiting a chiropractor may not be in your best interest. In these instances, there may be other treatments for you.

If you aren’t sure whether you should see a chiropractor for your symptoms, we recommend either chatting with your primary care physician or booking a consultation with your chiropractor. They will help ensure you receive the right treatments.

Diagnosed with Certain Conditions

If you have certain medical conditions, chiropractic care may not be the best form of alternative medicine for you. These conditions may include arthritis, herniated discs, physical abnormalities, and osteoporosis.

These types of conditions should be evaluated by your chiropractor or a primary care physician to determine a treatment plan. In some instances, chiropractors work with primary care physicians to create a holistic plan.

It’s important to keep in mind that while some patients may not be candidates for chiropractic medicine, other patients with these conditions see a lot of success and pain relief from treatments. It depends on the patient, their symptoms, and their condition.

Pain From Injuries

If you’re experiencing pain from a new (or old) injury, you should be sure chiropractic care is the right course of treatment before proceeding. Injuries such as broken bones or sprains should be treated with other methods of holistic medicine.

However, if your injury has healed but you’re still experiencing pain, schedule a consultation with your chiropractor. They can help determine if you’re a candidate for other types of regenerative medicine as well.

Start Your Journey With Chiropractic Care

Scheduling your first visit with functional medicine can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what to expect. Plus, being underprepared can negatively affect your experience. Use the above guide to start your chiropractic care journey with confidence.

If you’re ready to get started with holistic medicine, send us a message today to request your appointment. Our staff will then confirm your appointment via phone.

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