What should I expect at my first chiropractor appointment?

You’ve done your research and decided to explore the services of a chiropractor. Perhaps you’re hoping to alleviate symptoms such as migraines, back pain, or insomnia – or maybe you’re hoping that chiropractic adjustments will simply improve your overall quality of life. Whatever your reasons, your appointment is on the calendar. What should you expect at your first visit? As a chiropractor in Rockville, MD from a practice like Pain Arthritis Relief Center can explain, it all starts with preparation.


Before your first appointment, collect a list of your symptoms and any medical records regarding the symptoms you hope to treat. If you have visited other doctors, undergone testing, or had x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, it will help your chiropractor if he or she is able to review these records. Be ready to share your medical history at your first visit.

Make sure to ask your chiropractor’s office staff about insurance coverage. Bring along your insurance cards and ID.

Most chiropractors recommend that you dress in comfortable, loose clothing for your first examination. Try to arrive at the office a few minutes early to complete any intake paperwork.

Initial Consultation

During your initial consultation, expect to discuss your medical history and symptoms. Based on your needs, the chiropractor will perform some tests to assess your condition, range of motion, muscle strength, and reflexes. These tests may include flexibility examinations, such as stretches and bending; leg measurements; walking examinations, straight-leg raise tests; and other physical assessments. The chiropractor may also take an x-ray of your spine or recommend other medical tests like bloodwork.

Treatment Plan

After your consultation, your chiropractor will likely recommend a treatment plan. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for chiropractic care, so your individualized treatment plan will be based on factors like your overall health, your age, cause of any injuries or illnesses, duration of symptoms, and other factors. 

Your treatment plan will include adjustments, performed at the chiropractor’s office. You will also likely receive exercises to perform at home and other recommendations to improve or maintain your overall health.

First Adjustment

Based on your consultation, your chiropractor will determine whether you will benefit from receiving an adjustment at your first visit. Adjustments help to realign your vertebrae, and sometimes your first adjustment will result in immediate relief of some pain. Your chiropractor will direct you to take the appropriate position for your adjustment, such as lying face down on the adjustment table. Expect the chiropractor to push, pull, or twist a section of your body. You may hear a popping sound or feel some immediate discomfort.

After the Visit

You may feel a bit sore after your visit, or experience a mild headache. These symptoms should subside with rest and low-impact activities until you are feeling better. Follow recommendations for at-home exercises and follow-up care, and contact your chiropractor if your discomfort does not subside within a couple of days.