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What to expect on your first visit

Prone Pressure Stretch

If you’re reading this, you’re probably injured.  I’m sorry, that sucks.  What sucks more is that our healthcare and insurance systems make getting better from injury way too complicated.  We’re here to help, and we’re not your average chiropractor. Or physical therapist. Chiropractors and physical therapists sell you a plan that is designed to get you better, sure, but its also kinda sorta designed to make them as much money as possible.  We’re here to get you better, faster. We don’t have long treatment plans.  We schedule you for 1-2 follow up visits, not 8 or 24 at a time. So take a few minutes to read on what you’ll get your first day in the office when you need help with an injury.

We don’t like the current healthcare system, but unfortunately we do have to operate within it.  Because of that, the beginning of your visit will start like most doctor’s office visits - with a greeting from our receptionist and a few forms to fill out. If you plan on using insurance, be sure to bring your card or be able to supply a digital copy. You’ll also need photo ID.  

Next, we’ll do our best to CLEARLY describe your insurance benefits. We try to make sure everyone understands their insurance and what costs they can expect for care as clearly as possible BEFORE they are taken away from reception. Unfortunately, sometimes insurance throws a curveball, but we promise to explain things as best we can. We’ll also give you a form with your specific benefits and descriptions of insurance terms so you can have all the information at your fingertips.

Next, it’s time to meet the doctor. We’ll come greet you, bring you back to the office, and get to chatting.  We block off an hour of our doctor’s time so that we can fully understand what you’re going through.  One of our favorite quotes is “You can’t treat something you don’t understand” (To get the most of this time, it would be best to arrive a few minutes early to finish that paperwork)

A lot of chiropractors just examine and x-ray the first day without any treatment. That’s not how we roll.  First off, it’s very rare to need x-rays, MRI's, or other advanced testing on the first day. Here’s why. Secondly, our assessment method blends an examination and treatment into one.  So the treatment begins on day one, and the exam doesn’t finish on day one. 

So, what do we do? We get moving and test different the stresses that movements and positions put on your body. We see how your symptoms respond to the loads and forces of those movements and postures. Luckily, most back, neck and joint pains can get better fast because of a principle called directional preference. This means that certain movements will make an injury feel better and help it heal, while others may increase pain and slow healing. Our goal is to find one single movement that will give you the best chance for recovery, and prescribe it as homework.  By picking JUST ONE movement, it makes the homework easier for you, and it allows us to continue the exam by a type of scientific experiment. Sorry to take you back to science class, but a good experiment has one variable - in our case - your prescribed movement. When you come back, we discuss the results, and decide if we picked theright movement, or if we need to change things up in order for you to get better.

You’ll notice we haven’t talked about adjusting yet.  Adjusting the spine is a form of movement.  If you display a directional preference, it often leads us to know if an adjustment will be helpful for you.  Most of the time it is, and if the exam gives a green light, we adjust on the first day.  If your unsure or the doctor is unsure due to your exam findings, we don’t have to adjust the first day. It's as simple as that.

So that’s it.  The first day, we try to understand your problem as much as possible, come up with a simple plan for relief, and give you an at home exercise to start you on the path to recovery.  When you come back for that second visit, we assess your progress and have a talk about what you can expect for recovery time.  


Dr. Todd Peterson, DC, Cert MDT. Dr. Todd Peterson Dr. Todd Peterson is a chiropractor and certified provider for Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy (MDT, aka the McKenzie Method). Dr. Peterson played football at the University of Nebraska, where he was a 4 year letter winner and Academic All American. He briefly played professional football in 2009 before returning to Chiropractic School in 2010. He earned his doctor of chiropractic (DC) degree from National University of Health Sciences in 2013, graduating with Magna Cum Laude honors.

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