Here’s What to Expect

Your first chiropractor visit can leave you feeling a little nervous if you don’t know what happens. Here are a few things you can expect to put your mind at ease.

About 4.5 million Canadians visit a chiropractor every year for reasons from muscle-related or unexplained lower-back pain, serious pain conditions or overall good health.

But what does a chiropractor really do? They’re experts on the spine, muscle and nervous system. and have extensive training on diagnosis and treatment recommendations for pain relief and mobility and can provide tips and advice for overall healthy well-being.  Make sure you communicate your needs and goals to your chiropractor.

Some people feel skeptical or anxious about what to expect. Is it painful? Will the treatment involve twisting me up like a pretzel? How long will it take before I feel results?

It's natural to have questions about what’s involved in chiropractic care. Here are a few things you can expect during your first visit to a chiropractor.

What Will a Chiropractor do on the First Visit?

Your first visit can last from 45 to 60 minutes, The length depends on the injury or condition you’re there to treat.

Subsequent visits are usually quicker, but there are three main goals for the first visit:

  1. Start identifying the reason for the visit and its cause.
  2. Build a therapeutic rapport between you and the chiropractor.
  3. Discuss a recommended treatment plan based on your goals and expectations.


Your first visit is typically broken down into three phases:

  1. Health History
  2. Physical Examination
  3. Report of Findings and when appropriate a Chiropractic Treatment

 Health History

Upon arrival you to fill out some basic forms….Describe the level of and type of pain you're experiencing as well as where it's located, past health history and prior treatments that you may have had.

The chiropractor will go into a more in-depth history based on the forms you’ve filled out so expect a comprehensive history-taking porting of the visit which may include questions about the following areas of your health:

  • Personal and family medical history
  • Major illnesses you have experienced
  • Surgeries or operations you have had
  • Medications you are taking
  • A description of your area(s) of concern
  • A description of the general state of your health
  • The steps you have taken to manage your condition
  • Your diet and exercise
  • Your sleeping habits
  • Your daily activities
  • Your work routine
  • Your stress level
  • Your home life

Physical Examination

The Chiropractor will continue with a physical examination, after getting verbal consent the Chiropractor may perform a variety of tests.   They’ll check your reflexes, joints and spine, and look at your posture as well.  You may need to twist your body in different ways to check your ranges of motion.  The chiropractor may press on areas and ask if it hurts to help identify the problem.  The source of your problem might be coming from either a disc, nerve, muscle, ligament or joint.  

So giving feedback is important during this time between you and the chiropractor  in order for them to understand which structures are the cause of your issue.  

Report of Findings/Chiropractic Treatment

Once the chiropractor come up with a proper diagnosis the ideal course of treatment can be presented to you. Your chiropractor will be happy to answer questions, address concerns and explain different options to you. This may include preventative strategies and changes in lifestyle practices.  Before any treatment is given a consent to treatment form will be signed.

If you get an adjustment during your first visit, expect a painless procedure in most cases. To adjust your spine, the chiropractor may pull, push or rotate a section of your body. You may hear a “popping/cracking” sound as your joints readjust. Don’t be alarmed! It’s a completely normal side effect as air bubbles are released within the joint capsule, similar to cracking your knuckles. And sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.  There might be some soft tissue massage and stretching as well to aid in the mobility and healing of your muscles that are restricting the movement of your spine.

Some patients report that an adjustment causes instant relief. The sudden relief may or may not happen on your first visit, depending on your condition and its severity.

You may feel some slight discomfort or fatigue after your visit, but it should resolve quickly. After your visit, if you have additional questions or concerns, simply contact the office or write them down to be discussed at a subsequent visit.