Chiropractor Exam

A chiropractor exam for diagnosing the cause of back pain has many similarities to a physical examination from a doctor. Both medical specialists will palpate the body to feel for areas that are painful to the patient. Both clinicians may test the patient's reflexes to detect for evidence of nerve damage. Both specialists will have the patients to push or pull parts of their body against a resistance to try to detect muscle imbalances or weakness. Both clinicians will test for the flexibility of the muscles. Both clinical specialists are trained and qualified to read diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, MRIs, ultrasounds, and blood testing. But there are some subtle differences in the way doctors and chiropractors diagnose and treat musculoskeletal diseases. Here we will go into more specifics for what you can expect during a chiropractor exam.

First Chiropractor Visit: Before the chiropractor puts his hands on you, they are going to want as much information as you can give them as to the cause of your pain. This information may be collected over the phone, though paperwork questionnaires, or just by talking to the patient.

Patient History and Symptoms: The chiropractor will want to know about the patient's history and symptoms. Here are some of the questions that the chiropractor will ask you.

Have you even been diagnosed with a systemic disease that affects the joints, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis? Have you ever had this type of pain before? How long have you had the type of pain you are experiencing now? Where is the pain located? Does the pain radiate away from the source of the pain, such as down the arm or down the leg? Would you describe the pain as sharp, dull, throbbing, searing, or burning? Did a recent injury cause the symptoms you are feeling now, it did it just seem to come on without any known cause? What circumstances or activities make your pain feel better and worse?

The Chiropractor Exam: The chiropractor may have an X-Ray within his center that may be used to get a closer look at your actual spine. The exam may include the gathering of other medical information from you in the form of the collection of blood testing, and taking your blood pressure and respiration. The chiropractor will test your reflexes to see if there are differences between the two arms or legs. Other neurological and orthopedic tests may be done to assess the patient's:
  • Neurologic integrity
  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle tone
  • Range of motion of the affected part
The three main parts of a chiropractor exam include the consultation, case history, and physical examination. The first two parts of this exam we have already talked about. Here are some of the tools and specific tests that are used to evaluate the structural integrity of the spine and the elements of the spine that move it and are affected by the spinal nerves.

One of the things that the chiropractor does is to use static and mobile palpation techniques to feel for how your body works as you try to move your arm, leg, or body. Are your movements fixated or limited, indicating a hypo-mobility. Or is the motion of your body and joints hyper mobile, which may also point to joint problems or an unstable spine?

Tools and Resources: To get a better understanding of how healthy your back and its components are, the chiropractor may perform X-Rays in his clinic or outsource this test to another clinic or hospital. X-rays may be used to detect anomalies such as scoliosis, hyper-lordosis, and subluxations of the vertebra. Another device may be used that measures the temperature of the skin in muscle groups such as the paraspinal muscles. Increases in temperature along certain areas may indicate inflammation, which occurs in response to an injury or muscle tension.

All of these tests may be used to detect which joints or segments of the back are injures or out of alignment. Once the chiropractor has identified where the structural imbalances are, and where the source of the pain is, he can begin to repair the body from the feet upward.