What to Expect on the First Visit

It’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your visit and bring along a copy of any x-rays you might have.

Plan to spend about half an hour on your first visit to the office.


The first step of your appointment is filling out your confidential patient health record. (Which can be downloaded here)  Because we need a complete picture of your health in order to provide the best possible treatment for you as an individual, I ask about the following:

  • personal and family medical history
  • major illnesses you have experienced
  • surgeries or operations you have had
  • medications you might be taking
  • your diet and exercise
  • your work and leisure activities
  • your sleeping habits


We will focus on the specific cause of your pain.  This usually involves:

  • listening to you, describe your pain and symptoms
  • observing how you move from the moment you enter the office
  • feeling your spine to locate the exact problem
  • testing how far you can move in the problem area
  • determining if other parts of your back or body are affected by the problem (ex. pain in our back can change the way we walk or sit, and this may result in problems in completely different parts of your body.

We will be looking at some or all of the following:

  • spinal muscle tone
  • your muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination
  • analysis of your posture
  • analysis of your movement (observing how you walk or lift things)
  • sometimes spinal x-rays are required to complete the picture.

If at the conclusion of the examination, it is determined that Chiropractic care is appropriate for you, I will recommend some treatment options. However, if your problem would be better treated by another health professional, I will make the appropriate referral.


Treatment Options:  There are different ways a chiropractor can care for your back depending on your condition.  Generally there are three levels of care, but for most people, the need is for immediate relief.

  • Relief care is provided for immediate pain and discomfort.  Depending on the diagnosis, your age and physical condition, one visit, or several visits over a relatively short period of time may be necessary. 
  • Corrective care treats long term spinal problems.  Because these problems have existed for some time they require a longer, more complex period of care, which may include a customized exercise program. 
  • Supportive or maintenance care helps you maintain and enjoy the benefits you’ve achieved from relief and corrective care.  Continuing to work with your chiropractor and having adjustments once in a while will keep your spine as healthy as possible. 

Once a course of care is determined, and the matter of informed consent has been discussed, treatment usually begins.  Because of chiropractic’s concern for your overall well being, most treatment is accompanied by exercise, diet and other healthy living suggestions to help keep your back healthy and strong.


A common question is how long chiropractic treatment should continue.  Dr. McPhail will discuss the need for ongoing care with you, and it will depend on your specific back problem.  For some people chiropractic treatment is like a regular tune-up for their back, to help deal with the daily wear and tear of life.  For others, it’s simply an effective treatment when back pain strikes.  Take the time to discuss with your chiropractor the level of care that’s best for you.