What to expect from your chiropractor
Visits to a chiropractor’s office are similar to what one might experience at any other health clinic. Under BC legislation including the Health Professions Act, there is a strict set of guidelines and objectives that each chiropractic doctor must adhere to when evaluating and treating patients.
Upon visiting a chiropractor’s office, patients can expect the following:
- Information: Paperwork detailing information about health history and health complaints is common. Patients may also be asked for contact information for their file. Chiropractic doctors must ensure that only information that is essential for the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of the patient’s condition is collected. In addition, chiropractors must take appropriate steps to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of all health records.
- Case History: The chiropractor may ask additional questions in the exam room to gain further information and build on your written case history and condition.
- Examination: A physical exam is conducted which usually involves the chiropractic doctor using his or her hands to touch or palpate areas of the patient’s body. The chiropractor will inform and obtain verbal consent to touch the patient’s body including sensitive areas upon each visit. Neurological, orthopedic and muscular tests or a combination thereof may be performed to determine the cause of the patient’s concern. Examples of tests include leaning the body to one side and then the other, checking reflexes or evaluating the range of motion in the patients limbs. In some cases, imaging such as X-ray or MRI may be taken. Depending on symptoms and the complaint, patients may be asked to wear a gown for examination and treatment purposes.
- Diagnosis: The chiropractor must provide a patient with a diagnosis based on the patient’s intake information, history and examination findings. If the chiropractor suspects that the problem is not neuromusculoskeletal in nature, a referred to a specialist or other health care provider may result.
- Informed Consent: All health care providers must inform and ensure patients understand the scope of the treatment, alternatives, risks associated and prognosis. In addition, chiropractic doctors discuss an informed consent form with each patient during their initial visit. Informed consent is about ensuring that the patient is clear as to the diagnosis, treatment options and anticipated outcomes of the treatment.
- Treatment: A treatment plan including the types of treatment and how many visits is proposed and discussed. This should be tailored to each patient and may evolve depending on the patient’s response to treatment. In BC, chiropractic treatment could involve hands on manipulation therapy, activator/instrument adjusting, massage techniques, decompression using a machine or special table and laser therapy. Patients may also be provided with exercises or prevention tips such as posture correction to assist them in recovery and prevent further injury.
Patients can end the visit or treatment arrangement at any time. If a patient feels that the chiropractor did not adequately inform them of the procedures or displayed conduct unbecoming of a health care professional, the patient is encouraged to file a complaint through the CCBC.