by Brent Hearn •
Do you remember your first visit to the dentist? It was a long time ago for most of us—decades, perhaps—so it’s understandable if you don’t, but it’s easy to imagine that it was probably stressful. Wait…people are going to put their hands in my mouth? And I’m just supposed to act like it’s no big deal? And they might even DRILL A HOLE IN MY TOOTH?!
When you think about it, it’s amazing a parent can talk any child into doing this without the aid of restraints. (The associated parental trauma is probably also why they’re more likely to remember our first trip to the dentist than we are.)
Similarly, if you’ve never been treated by a chiropractor, it’s understandable that your first visit might be a bit daunting. (Especially since they’re probably not going to let you pick out a toy afterward. Chiropractors, get on that.)
Sure, you can do a lot of research before you set foot in the office. It’s certainly worth some quality Google time to educate yourself on chiropractic in general, various chiropractic methods, and the chiropractor you choose to visit, but it still makes sense that there might be some apprehension involved. With that in mind, here are some questions you may want to ask your chiropractor during—or perhaps even before—your first visit.
Should I be treated by a chiropractor?
This is one your chiropractor should be able to answer based on your medical history, what brought you to their office, and what you’re hoping to get out of treatment. There are some conditions that might bar you from treatment, including (but not limited to) osteoporosis, certain cancers, inflammatory arthritis, spinal compression, some bone abnormalities, an increased risk of stroke, and numbness/tingling in a limb.
Be sure to give detailed information to your chiropractor about your current medications, traumatic/surgical history, and your lifestyle. This is not the time to hold back. Your chiropractor isn’t being nosy; they’re trying to accurately gauge all factors that contribute to your overall health.
What specific methods/techniques do you plan to use to treat me?
Once your chiropractor has a sense of what’s causing the problem(s), they should be able to give you a detailed plan of how they’re going to approach your treatment. Though this plan may be altered depending on how you respond to treatment, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be forthright at every step of the process.
What are the risks of the methods you’ll be using to treat me?
You’ve chosen to visit a chiropractor for a reason. Whatever it is you’re seeking—relief from pain, better mobility, improvements in your posture, etc.—you’re going with the assumption that, as an expert, your chiropractor is going to provide you with the best care and advice at their disposal.
That said, you as a patient have the right to draw boundaries. Whether it’s, “No, I don’t feel comfortable with having my neck cracked,” or, “I’ll consider what you’re asking of me, but first, can you tell me more?” it’s important to remember that you have the right to draw the line. Your chiropractor should be more than willing to inform you of any possible risks, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or to speak up. It’s your right!
How long should I expect to need treatment?
Though each patient’s situation is different, there should be an end goal in mind—and an expected duration of treatment to achieve it. Depending on your progress, those expectations may need to be reassessed, but your chiropractor should keep you informed at every step of the process.
What can I do between adjustments to improve?
Chiropractic doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You can’t run your vehicle ragged and expect to have it running right as rain with the occasional tune-up. Likewise, you can’t wreak havoc on your body and then just expect a chiropractor to magically “fix” it. Chiropractic is one tool in the toolbox, but there are likely things you can do to move the needle on your treatment when you’re not in your chiropractor’s office.
Are there exercises you should be performing? Stretches you should be doing? Foods you should be adding or avoiding? Ask your chiropractor!
What are the financial particulars?
How much does a visit cost? Will you incur additional costs with any of the treatments your chiropractor is suggesting? What are your payment options? Does your chiropractor accept your insurance and/or any other coverage?
Generally speaking, chiropractors want to help you (and they want your business), so many will be willing to work with you and provide affordable choices. But it’s essential to have all these details ironed out in the beginning so there are no surprises down the road.
Questions are a good thing. They show you take your care seriously and you’re committed to getting better. A good chiropractor will understand and appreciate your thoroughness, so any reluctance or evasion on the part of a chiropractor should be a big red flag.
If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, it’s completely okay to find someone else to treat you. It’s your body, and you want to find someone who has your best interests at heart.
Board of Chiropractic Examiners, State of California: A Consumer’s Guide to Chiropractic Care
Mayo Clinic: Chiropractic adjustment
Women’s Health: 8 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting a Chiropractor