What You Should Expect On Your First Visit To A Chiropractor
Chiropractor in Amarillo Discusses
As with so many other questions of chiropractors, what you should expect on your first visit to a chiropractor will vary from chiropractic office to chiropractic office. Unfortunately, the chiropractic profession is not as standardized as many of us would hope it to be. What does ‘standardized’ mean exactly? Well, if we compare it to the medical profession, if you develop an ear infection, you have a fairly good idea of what to expect in regard to the treatment whether you’re in LA, New York, Dallas, or Wyoming. The medical profession has a level of standard care expectations.
The chiropractic profession on the other hand can be a bit like the Wild West. Yes, we have governing boards, rules, and regulations but as far as telling chiropractors how to run their offices, we do not have that level of standardization in our profession. For some, that is a great thing. Some patients like the fact that there is a different type of chiropractor for all different types of patients. For certain types of chiropractors, the lack of standardization is frustrating, to say the least.
For this reason, I can only speak to what one should expect on a first visit to MY chiropractic clinic in Amarillo, TX. Being an evidenced-based, patient-centered chiropractic office, we are most interested in the quick resolution of the patient’s pain at the least cost and hassle to them. For that reason, we follow the most up-to-date best practice guidelines.
A first visit starts with the unpleasant task of filling out paperwork. Everyone’s least favorite part of a clinic visit. We do offer the option of filling the paperwork out online in the comfort of one’s own home though. Most new patients prefer that over sitting in the office filling out paperwork.
Once we review the initial paperwork, a staff member will take new patients back and begin an intake of them. They will ask questions about their health history, previous surgeries, previous treatments attempted, site of complaints, what makes it worse, what makes it better, and on and on.
Following the intake portion, I meet with the staff member and we discuss your case and what they have found out so far during the intake. When I enter the room, many times, I already have some idea of what is causing the issues. Then I go to work testing my thought process to try to determine exactly the cause of the pain.
We follow guidelines put forth by the American Chiropractic Association through a program called Choosing Wisely. One of the guidelines suggests only performing x-rays when there are certain and specific reasons to do so. As a result, we only require x-rays in maybe 5%-10% of our new patients. We do not even have an x-ray machine in our office for this reason. We would hardly need to use it.
At this point, I want to pause a moment to describe what I feel sets us apart from many others in my profession. Only 2% of chiropractors further their education with Fellowship training. I achieved my Fellowship in Orthopedics/Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine in 2019, becoming the only chiropractor to do so in Texas west of I-35. This allows me to really focus in on the source of pain and come to a robust and more accurate diagnosis. When you have the right diagnosis, you can tailor the exercise and treatment regimen to the patient’s specific case. This gives us a better chance at complete resolution and gives our clinic a record of high patient satisfaction.
Once a diagnosis is decided on, we talk about it. Why it impacts you when you do certain things. Some of the things you can do during your day to prevent triggering the pain, etc. After I have answered all of the patient’s questions, when appropriate, we move to a treatment room where I adjust the patient and get good, healthy motion into the right areas.
After that, we move to the exercise/rehabilitation room or the therapy room. Since not everyone is the same with the same level of pain, treatment is different and specific to the patient as well. For some, they can only tolerate very passive therapy like a cold laser, electric stim, or maybe ultrasound. For others, they are able to be much more active. If that is the case, we may move straight into exercise to support and strengthen the areas in question.
Chiropractic is not 100 mph or nothing at all. There is a lot of middle ground. Some patients come in on walkers or even wheelchairs unable to function while others just hopped in from the gym. Chiropractic care can be tailored to the patient’s specific needs, abilities, and level of tolerance.
It is important to note that research is clear; there is a good effect from spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustment). There is a good effect of exercises and strengthening regimens. The BEST effect is when you combine the two. So, we combine the two because, as mentioned, we want the pain gone as quickly as possible with the least cost possible. And, through exercise, we are teaching the patient to be able to self-manage reoccurrences from their home rather than depending on a healthcare practitioner of any sort in a long-term setting. A normal patient should not typically need to see a chiropractor 40-70 times in a year. The normal recommendation from me is an initial trial period of treatment of 3 visits per week for 2 weeks.
At the end of the trial period, we know quite a bit more about the condition, the pain, and the patient’s ability to recover. We can make recommendations from there.
Chronic pain, as a general rule, takes more time and effort to resolve. Chronic pain patients can expect more treatment recommendations. Acute pain is less difficult and typically takes less time and less treatment.
As far as what to expect AFTER a first visit to see us; the vast majority of new patients to our clinic experience relief. Of course, some do not. Some may actually get a bit sore as if they went to the gym to work out for the first time in a long time. Very few patients experience this but some do. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable. Fortunately, though, the vast majority only experience some level of relief.
The first visit, honestly, is a bit of a trust-building visit. The patient arrives with plenty of fear, anxiety, or uncertainty and needs to understand that we are here to help them feel better. Not to hurt them or do something dangerous or irresponsible. Once we go through the first visit, not only did we get things moving better, but we also built some trust. As a result, the following visits typically go much quicker and are usually much more effective.
To contrast, there are several chiropractic offices that require x-rays on every single patient. That in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. But, some will use those x-rays to convince patients there is something more going on and proceed to scare them into lots and lots of visits throughout the year when, in reality, the patient is not having any real pain and the research suggests a decrease in the curvature of the neck is somewhat normal and does not typically have any huge impact on a patient as they age.
Then many offices tend to perform several follow up x-rays to attempt to show some proof of treatment. Choosing Wisely guidelines is firmly in opposition to this.
Some offices will make you go to an educational class. Some will not work on you the first day and spread it out over a two or three-day process before actually working on the new patient.
Here at Creek Stone, I feel that our new patients are here because they are in pain and my goal is to get rid of it. Not tomorrow or the day after, not in three of four days after they have sat through a class and had a gob of x-rays. No, I want them better the day they walked into my clinic.
I want patients so excited by their visit and their encounters with me and my staff that they leave impressed, excited, and ready to tell everyone they know all about this amazing new chiropractic office in Amarillo TX that they just found!
Basically, THAT’S what you can expect on your first visit at Creek Stone Integrated Care, your chiropractor in Amarillo.
Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast. Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected]
Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109
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