The following describes the initial in office clinical exam, which generally includes 3 areas:
1. Patient History and Symptoms
In preparation for the chiropractic consultation, the patient will be asked to fill out forms that provide background information about his or her symptoms and condition. Types of questions typically include:
- When and how did the pain start?
- Where is it located?
- Describe the pain – is it sharp, dull, searing/burning, or throbbing? Does it come and go, or is it continual?
- Did the pain start as a result of an injury?
- What activities/circumstances makes it better or worse?
Patients are usually asked to provide information on family medical history, any pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries, and previous and current health providers and treatments.
2. The Chiropractic Exam
A thorough chiropractic exam includes general tests such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and reflexes, as well as specific orthopedic and neurological tests to assess:
- Range of motion of the affected part
- Muscle tone
- Muscle strength
- Neurological integrity
Further chiropractic tests may be necessary to assess the affected area such as having the patient move in a specific manner and posture analysis.
Based upon the results of the patient’s history and chiropractic exam, diagnostic studies may be helpful in revealing pathologies and identifying structural abnormalities to more accurately diagnose a condition. Diagnostic studies are not always necessary during the chiropractic exam, and should only be undertaken if the chiropractor has a good reason to believe that the X-ray or other test will provide information needed to guide the patient’s treatment program. The most common diagnostic studies during chiropractic exams include:
- X-ray exam
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan
- Other laboratory tests
Our clinic performs basic X-rays, but an MRI scan and more extensive imaging studies are usually referred to an outside center.