What to Expect During a Chiropractic Session


Knowing what to expect during a chiropractic session can make the appointment less stressful and more comfortable. The first appointment generally consists of a medical history, physical exam, and the first treatment. Follow-up appointments typically involve a variety of chiropractic treatments tailored to the individual’s condition as well as re-evaluation of the individual’s symptoms.

The first appointment

During the first appointment, the chiropractor typically gathers a thorough medical history and conducts a physical exam. The physical exam involves evaluation of posture, joint mobility, and muscle tone and strength. Before beginning treatment, tests such as x-rays may be completed to check for fractures or other medical conditions.

The individual seeking treatment should be prepared to provide details about previous and current health conditions as well as a list of current medications and supplements. They should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to allow for easy movement during the exam and treatment.


Spinal or joint manipulation is the primary chiropractic treatment. It is a hands-on treatment in which the chiropractor applies force to a joint in order to move it into better alignment.

During spinal or joint manipulation, the individual typically lies on a special padded table. The chiropractor may have the individual move into various positions in order to apply pressure to different areas of the body.

During treatment, the joints may make popping or cracking noises. This is normal and not a reason for concern.

Other treatments

In addition to spinal manipulation, a number of other treatments may be used during a chiropractic session:

  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Ultrasound
  • Temperature therapy
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Cervical traction

Side effects

After chiropractic treatment, the individual may feel tired or experience headaches. The areas that were treated may feel sore. However, these side effects should not be severe or long-lasting.

Home exercises

The chiropractor may recommend strengthening exercises, stretches, or other activities to be completed at home between appointments. They may also provide nutritional or lifestyle advice.

Length of treatment

Although the first appointment may last up to an hour, follow-up appointments typically last between 10 and 45 minutes. Chiropractic treatment is often performed one to three times per week for two to four weeks.

The chiropractor will occasionally re-evaluate symptoms to determine if care should be continued or if a referral to another health care practitioner is needed.