Your Initial Assessment

Posted on 10 June 2013 in Chiropractic by Dr. John Dawson
Dr. John Dawson

This may sound like a broken record or a recurring theme but it is important to note that every chiropractor handles a patient’s first visit differently.  This post is simply a way of explaining what happens at the Dawson Family Chiropractic Clinic.  It is important to dispel any myths and offer explanations as to why things happen the way they do so you can have a full understanding of the options available.

In the information age it is understandable for people to be sceptical when asked for an address, date of birth, and email address when this usually leads to a number of unwanted spam emails; however, this is where we get started.  Getting your age is the first step in gathering information to help determine what is going on with your body.  Symptoms and conditions are more prevalent in different age brackets and this statistical information can push us towards or away from a certain diagnosis, so that is why the question is asked.  This is also a good place to point out that your confidentiality starts here—your information is secure and only available to clinic staff for clinic purposes and cannot be distributed to anyone without your permission. 

The next step is to take an accurate history.  A history of your existing complaint as well as a thorough review of your past medical history is essential in determining a working diagnosis and a plan of action.  Your history is what makes you unique, it is what makes your complaint and symptoms different from other people (even though some symptoms may be similar to those of other people), and it is the determining factor in a treatment plan that is specific to you.  It is only natural to ask questions when different people with different symptoms and different diagnoses are being treated with the same treatment plan.   Therefore, during a history, it is important to answer with complete and total honesty.  There are times when people only talk about symptoms he or she feels are relevant.  And, sometimes people don’t believe that their past medical history has anything to do with their present condition. Finally, some people have already had a look on the internet, decided what the problem is, and would like the treatment program set up to ‘cure’ that condition.  To address all of those points:

  1. Asking questions about your left or right handedness, or your profession, or the number of children you have and their ages gives a wealth of information about postural habits, stress levels, and lifting habits—information that is crucial in helping you but can be overlooked when you are focussing on your pain.
  2. Poor nutrition can cause gall bladder dysfunction, gall bladder problems can cause right shoulder pain, shoulder pain can cause headaches, and headaches can be a symptom of infection.  With complete confidentiality you shouldn’t be concerned about giving an entire history as everything you have done up to this point could have—in some way—contributed to the symptoms you might be experiencing.
  3. Having an unbiased professional diagnose a condition based on historical, physical, and diagnostic tests is the best way to get you better.  Comparing your symptoms to a friend’s symptoms or reading up on the internet usually ends with misconception and a misdiagnosis of your symptoms.

The physical examination follows the comprehensive historical examination.  This is where we test the nervous system, we test how your bones and joints are moving, and we test how well your muscles are moving those bones and joints.  In some cases it may be necessary to refer you for further testing such as an X-Ray or a blood test; however, that information will be explained to you right then and there.  It is important to understand that the goal is to take the least invasive option as possible.  Taking an X-Ray at any dose is exposing you to radiation, taking a blood sample is piercing your skin with a sharp needle, so only if it will help to confirm/rule out a diagnosis or change the treatment program these types of tests should be seen as clinically necessary and not as a screening tool for every patient.

When all the information is gathered it is important that you understand what is happening.  The results of the history, physical, and diagnostic tests are presented to you in a report of findings.  Some chiropractors do this report immediately after the physical examination while others like to assess the data further and make a follow up appointment to go through the report.  The report of findings includes the results of any testing, a working diagnosis, an initial treatment program which includes the risks alternatives and benefits to any treatment offered, answering of all your questions, and using your input to develop a plan that will improve your health and get you where you want to be. 

Finally—treatment!!!  This is why you came to the clinic.  Barring the need to investigate further with a referral or to address a medical emergency, treatment begins the same day.  If it is a matter of getting started right away or holding off until you return from vacation the treatment starts as soon as possible.  Getting you better as quickly as possible is the primary goal.

You will NOT be asked for upfront payment.  You will NOT be asked to commit to a lengthy treatment program.  You will NOT be subject to emails, blogs like this one, or form letters that you do not want. 

While all patient presentations are different and all treatment plans are unique, this should give you an idea on what to expect at your first visit to this clinic.  Please feel free to call the clinic or write an email should you require any further clarification.