“Hey doc, can’t you just pop me right here?”

This is a question that I get in my office from time to time.  Most times I can explain to the patient the need for an exam (which I’m about to tell you) and they will agree that it makes sense.  Sometimes though, I’ll even have potential patients walk out of my office when I tell them that they have to have a new patient exam and I won’t just “pop” them.  Since I still have a relatively new practice, it is always hard to let someone walk out of the door but that’s how important I believe it is that my patients have an exam on their first appointment.

So why is a new patient exam so important?  I’m going to break it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

What’s one of the number one complaints people have when they go in to see their family doctor?  You have to wait in the exam room for about forty-five minutes before they get in there and when they finally do arrive, they’re in and out in five minutes having barely listened to you.  Does that sound about right?

Unfortunately, that’s a result of the system many medical doctors have to exist in.  In our office, a new patient exam is a good opportunity for me to get to know you and to get a clearer picture of your entire health history.  Going over your entire health history is a good way for any medical practitioner to find clues that may help them diagnose or treat your condition.

Sometimes what may seem insignificant to you, might actually contribute to your condition or may be bad for your health in some other way.  Something else that I’ve had happen before is through the course of the new patient exam, a patient mentioned a different issue that they had been struggling with that responds very well under chiropractic care.  I was able to help them correct this problem as well as what they originally sought care for initially.

These are just a few of the added benefits of having a new patient exam.

The Bad

In our “microwave, I want it now” culture where we go to the doctor to be prescribed a pill that will magically correct all of our problems, some people expect to be adjusted once and all their pain will go away.  That’s not always the case.

This is where I run into problems with the “Can’t you just pop me right here?” crowd.  This mindset is the same as I mentioned above, that they can get adjusted once and everything will just go away.  While many people feel much better after an adjustment, there is a difference between feeling less pain and fixing your problem.

The other problem that comes from this mindset is that the part of your body that hurts is not always where the problem is.  I’ve written about this a few times because this is a lot more common than you would imagine.  If I adjusted only where a patient says that it hurts but is not the source of the pain, then they’ll only experience marginal or no improvement and then they think that chiropractic doesn’t work.

The only way I can get an idea of where the source of the problem is located is by doing an exam.  In my office, depending on why the reason you came in, I will do a number of different functional tests to look at how well your body is moving, what muscles are weak or tight, where you have imbalances, and what causes increases/decreases in your pain.  It is all part of the overall clinical picture.

The Ugly

While it is a rare occurrence, there are some more severe conditions that can cause back pain, neck pains, or headaches, which are all common reasons for seeking chiropractic care.

For instance, women that are experiencing a heart attack can have neck and shoulder pain without having any chest pain.  Someone that has an abdominal aortic aneurysm that continues to enlarge may experience back pain.  An abnormal headache could be a stroke in progress.

All of these conditions are medical emergencies that need to be treated at a hospital and not a chiropractic office.  Without a thorough exam, these more severe conditions could be missed and the patient could lose out on valuable treatment time.


This is just a summary of why you need a new patient exam when you come into our office. I hope that it makes sense and you can see the value of receiving an exam on your first visit.  If you’ve read through this entire post and still just want to be “popped” then let me save you some time; our office is not the place for you.  You may be able to find another chiropractic office that will do that for you but that is not what we do here.

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