The Importance of a Chiropractic Exam Part 1: The Neck

The Neck Image 1

When you visit a chiropractor for the first time, you will be put through a series of tests and activities to help determine the nature of your issue/injury. This process is called a chiropractic examination. It is a vital part of not only the diagnosis, but the treatment plan as well. The information the chiropractor can gather from the exam allows them to diagnose properly thus helping them formulate an appropriate plan of action to get you better. At Pro Chiropractic, our exams are quite thorough. They include state of the art scans, digital x-rays and hands-on testing.

spine 1

The first test that will be done is range of motion. This will allow the chiropractor to see if there are any visible restrictions during movement. Restrictions can be caused by muscle strain, muscle tightness, ligament sprain, joint restriction or pain caused by disc herniation. Once range of motion is completed, the exam will move on to orthopedic testing. Movement restrictions and/or pain will be noted by the chiropractor.

axial cervical 1axial cervical 2

The next aspect of the examination is orthopedic testing. These tests help to determine what structures are involved in the issue/injury, such as muscle, joint, or nerve. Each test is designed to rule in or rule out possible causes of dysfunction. Every chiropractor has their own set of tests they use during the exam and will perform them in an order that works for them, so exams vary from chiropractor to chiropractor. After completing range of motion and orthopedic tests, the chiropractor will have a good working diagnosis for what they think the problem is.

normal vs  abnormal curve 1

The next step in the examination is x-rays. The chiropractor may or may not recommend x-rays depending on the age of the patient, mechanism of injury or if the patient is pregnant. X-rays are taken to either determine if a break or dislocation has occurred or to determine structural integrity of the spinal region. The above picture shows a normal cervical (neck) curvature versus an abnormal curvature. Abnormal curvatures can be caused by a traumatic incident such as a fall or car accident or can occur over time due to poor posture.

The chiropractic examination is important for every patient to help reach the proper working diagnosis whether the diagnosis is as simple as a segmental dysfunction or as complicated as a herniated disc. Without the examination, the chiropractor is essentially “shooting in the dark” when it comes to treatment which can be harmful to the patient, not to mention a waste of the patient’s time and money.