I have been thinking about the key things every patient should know when undergoing chiropractic care.  Treatment can be complex at times. When you see a new doctor, the first visit can be overwhelming. Everything is new. You may have concerns about what the doctor and staff are like. Do they take my insurance? What is wrong with me?  Can they help me?  The average person only recalls a small portion of what was said during the visit. 

I have distilled it down into 4 things you should know. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all on the first day.  Ask if you have forgotten or if they did not cover it. 

  1. Be sure to get a good diagnosis/working diagnosis from the doctor. 
  2. Understand what the plan is, and the length of time in which they expect to see some improvement. 
  3. Be compliant 
  4. Understand what you can do to prevent or minimize future episodes. 

#1 Good Diagnosis

Be sure to get a good diagnosis/working dx from the doctor. They should examine you in order come up with the best course of care. It is not uncommon to not know exactly what the problem is. Doctors often use what are called working diagnoses. It’s our preliminary thoughts as we work through better determining your condition.  A key factor is that they should be examining you and regularly re-evaluating you. 

#2 What’s the Plan?

Understand what the plan is, and the length of time in which they expect to see some improvement. What is the goal for their first 30 days of care? What degree of improvement does the doctor want to see to determine when treatment will be reduced?  They should not be treating you 3x per week for the rest of your life.  

#3 Be Compliant?

Be compliant – Keep your appointments. Do the recommended exercise the doctor gives you. Follow any recommended restriction to the best of your abilities.  You want to give yourself the best opportunity to heal and not be working against yourself and your doctor.  Compliant patients tend to have much better outcomes.

#4 Future Episodes

Understand what you can do to prevent or minimize future episodes. These would be things such as periodic adjustments, continuing exercises even after you feel better, and maybe nutritional changes. Hopefully you will have long back pain free periods.  Unfortunately, the nature of back pain is to have recurrent episodes. For most people it is a matter of when the next episode of back pain will re-occur not if it will re-occur.  

Your care is a partnership between you and your doctor. If you don’t understand something, just ask. I love it when a patient is wanting to know more. I believe the more engaged a patient is in their care, the better the outcome will be. We each have our roles to play. 

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