If you’ve never been to a chiropractor, what happens during that first chiropractic adjustment? Questions racing through your mind likely include: Will the adjustment hurt? What’s that loud popping noise I hear about? How long will it take? And perhaps most importantly – will I walk out feeling better? It’s completely understandable to feel nervous! But there’s no need to worry. 

Adjustments when performed properly are very safe and many patients do experience significant pain relief. 

This blog will walk you through everything you need to know about what to expect during your first chiropractic adjustment, from start to finish. When you’re done reading, you’ll feel completely at ease and prepared for a comfortable, rewarding first adjustment experience.

Preparing for Your Appointment

A. Gathering your medical history/paperwork

Before your first chiropractic appointment, you’ll likely need to complete new patient paperwork which asks detailed questions about your health history, any medications or supplements you take, areas of pain or injury, and your goals for treatment. 

Being as thorough as possible helps your chiropractor customize the best plan for you. Have a list ready of any prior surgeries, illnesses, or fractures. Share any recent test results you can. 

And know the approximate dates of any past accidents or sports injuries, even if they seem unrelated. Providing accurate information upfront saves time and allows the initial exam and first adjustment to be as productive as possible.

B. Understanding the exam and assessment process

The chiropractor will first want to conduct an exam to evaluate your spine’s alignment, range of motion, posture, gait, and any abnormal curvature. This hands-on evaluation assesses joint dysfunction and looks closely at your problem areas. 

You may be asked to move in certain directions so the chiropractor can feel and listen for restriction or instability. They will likely examine your full spine, not just the painful segment. 

Diagnostic testing like X-rays or an MRI could also be ordered at this time if deemed necessary to formulate the proper treatment regimen tailored to your unique condition.

C. Learning about different adjustment techniques

There are several methods chiropractors can use to administer adjustments. Some of the most common include manual manipulation, using instruments like a special “drop” table, or a gentler approach of mobilizing joints by stretching the area. 

Discuss any preferences or concerns you have around these techniques, and whether you have an injury or location in your spine that requires special care. 

Based on the exam findings and your conversation, the chiropractor will select their approach to the adjustments. Clear communication here is key, so don’t hesitate to speak up with questions.

D. Deciding if you want a friend/family member to join

Some patients feel more comfortable bringing a trusted person into the exam room with them, especially for that first unfamiliar adjustment. If you tend to feel anxious in medical settings or just want moral support, consider having your spouse, parent or friend attend with you. 

They can ask clarifying questions, help remember instructions, or even just provide a hand to squeeze! Alternatively, you may desire more privacy so you can openly discuss sensitive health topics. Think about which choice suits your personality best. The chiropractor wants you to feel at ease throughout the process.

E. Knowing what clothing to wear

You’ll need to wear clothing that allows the chiropractor access to examine your full spine and the joint areas needing adjustment. A tank top or sports bra works very well for your top, paired with shorts or loose pants. 

Certain adjustment techniques also require removing shoes, so wear socks you can easily slip off. Pro tip: skip awkward disrobing moments by wearing easily removable layers or simply getting changed at the office. The chiropractor will step out while you change and ensure you’re properly covered and comfortable before they re-enter. 

Basically, dress for flexibility and mobility so clothing doesn’t get in the way of the chiropractor accessing the necessary areas.

During the Adjustment

A. The physical positioning and alignment

You’ll be asked to lie face down on a specially designed table that allows for movement and joint compression. The chiropractor will bend and pivot sections of the table for optimal alignment. They will also manually position parts of your body.

B. What you’ll feel during the spinal manipulation

You’ll feel focused, with controlled pressure and movement applied to the restricted joint as the chiropractor administers the manual adjustment. This allows the joint to regain mobility.

C. The audible popping/clicking noise

Adjustments often produce a popping or clicking sound, simply air releasing within the joint space – indicating the desired motion has occurred.

D. Use and timing of breathing technique

Breathe normally until cued by the chiropractor to inhale, exhale, or stay still, coordinating with the precise moment of the adjustment.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has provided a helpful overview of what to expect during your first visit to the chiropractor. While the experience is undoubtedly new and different from an average doctor’s appointment, a reputable chiropractor like ours makes patient education and comfort a top priority. 

We strive for open communication so you feel empowered as we partner on improving spinal health and relieving your pain issues. With the preparation and knowledge gained from this guide, you can feel informed and optimistic walking into that adjustment room. 

Allow any lingering tension to subside knowing you are in skilled, caring hands. Most importantly, embrace this crucial step toward a life with less pain and more freedom to actively enjoy it. We look forward to seeing the benefits begin for you soon!

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