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What To Expect
What to Expect from Our Chiropractors?
Dr. Sansalone, Dr. Heintz, and Dr. Brusnighan were all patients before becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic. Dr. Sansalone first went to a chiropractor in high school for mid and low back pain. Similarly, Dr. Heintz first went in college, against his father’s wishes, for chronic low back pain he thought he would have to live with for the rest of his life. Dr. Brusnighan started seeing a chiropractor in high school for low back pain associated with playing tennis. Because of their personal experiences, they all understand the anxiety of seeing a chiropractor for the first time, whether as a brand-new patient to chiropractic or trying a different chiropractor. They have thought of the same questions you may have. What exactly does a chiropractor do? Is it going to hurt? Will I have to be treated for the rest of my life? All of these questions are entirely normal and even expected. Many of your questions can be answered in our FAQ section, but the doctors and staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
What to Expect During the First Visit?
Once all intake paperwork is complete, a chiropractic assistant (CA) will bring you into one of the exam rooms. They will take your vitals and initial history. You may also be asked to wear a gown and/or shorts to allow the doctor to see the area of complaint. The doctor will come in, review, and complete any missed history during intake and perform a physical examination. The doctors only refer out for x-rays or MRIs if they are needed to confirm your diagnosis or if they might change treatment options. We do not take x-rays and MRIs on every patient.
Once the initial exam is complete, we will usually begin treatment the same day. If we were the patient, we would expect to be treated on the first day, so we extend this same courtesy to our patients. Please note there are certain circumstances when we are unable to treat on the same day, and this will be made clear to you at the time of your exam along with a plan for your care.
Please expect to spend a good amount of time in our office for your initial visit. The length of the first visit usually lasts between 45-90 minutes. Completing your online new patient intake forms may help expedite your appointment, but other factors that contribute to the length of the visit include:
• Severity of condition
• Additional therapies
• Needing to Order X-rays or MRIs
• Having insurance information available before the appointment
• Arriving on time
Once the doctor finishes the exam, they will make a preliminary diagnosis. They will explain what they think is causing your pain and what therapies will be used to address your condition. It is imperative to the doctors that you are comfortable with the proposed treatment plan, so feel free to ask any questions.
You will have one of three responses following your visit. There is no way of predicting how your body will respond to chiropractic. All three of the following reactions are normal and can lead to overall improvement.
• You feel better.
• You feel the same.
• You feel worse.
Obviously, the outcome we all strive for and want is the first. We would love for everyone who comes in with pain to leave feeling great, but unfortunately, this is not always realistic. Sometimes conditions take a few treatments to respond. The length of response can be due to many factors, including age, severity, and type of injury, and whether or not you are a smoker or an avid exerciser are also some examples of what can affect responses to treatment.
It is usual for your symptoms to gradually return after the first treatment. The reassurance of symptoms is very natural, so please do not become discouraged by this. Remember, the sprain ankle analogy: you would not expect ankle swelling to go away with one treatment of ice, would you? It is similar to chiropractic treatments. There is an adjustment period for the body to return to “normal.” The goal of the chiropractic adjustment is to restore proper joint motion (get the joints moving again). Restoring proper joint movement helps to reduce inflammation both in the joint and to surrounding tissues. Affected tissues also need to be addressed with treatment for the body to respond adequately. This is why we typically perform soft tissue therapies to break up adhesions/tension in the muscles and recommend rehabilitation to increase muscular strength and endurance. Hopefully, they will help you feel better and stay better.
Ice versus Heat
While heat makes most people feel better initially, most patients notice that heat causes an increase in pain within 30-60 minutes after the application. This is because heat increases circulation where it is applied, leading to increased inflammation and swelling of that area. To reduce inflammation for an acute or new injury, your best treatment is ice. Heat is used more for chronic (older) injuries. Ice should be applied via a gel pack, ice bag, or bag of frozen peas across the area of pain for 15 to 20 minutes of every hour in a cycle. An example cycle would be 6:00 to 6:15 and 7:00 to 7:15. Remember, when you put the ice pack on, the muscles are going to tighten up, and you may feel a little worse, but an hour later, you will feel better because you reduced the inflammation. Do not put ice directly on the skin. Place a damp towel on the area of the complaint then lay the ice pack on top of the towel.
Phases of Healing
When an area of the body is injured, the body immediately begins the process of healing itself. We frequently get asked, “how long should it take my body to recover?”. While every case is different, we have outlined the three phases of healing and their approximate time of completion.
1. Inflammatory Phase: (0 - 5 days)
The body begins work to stop bleeding (both inside and out) and mobilize white blood cells to the area. White blood cells fight off foreign bodies (infection) and break down any dead tissue.
2. Repair or Proliferative Phase: (2 days – 3 weeks)
Cells called fibroblasts begin to lay down new collagen to fill in torn tissue. Collagen is a fibrous tissue that provides tensile strength to the new scar tissue. Wound edges also begin to pull together, and new capillaries are formed.
3. Remodeling Phase: (3 weeks – 2 years)
New collagen is formed and achieves full maturation. Over time, the scar progressively diminishes, bringing the torn edges closer together. The area of scar tissue is only 80% as strong as the original tissue.
Full recovery to full capacity depends on:
- The site of injury
- How many muscles were involved
- The severity of the injury