A consultation and examination is performed when someone comes to our office for care in order to determine if we can help. But often, it is the need for subsequent examinations which are not always understood. Why is it necessary to perform additional examinations on a regular basis?
Below is an explanation for each component to an examination. This is not meant to be all inclusive, but it will give you a good idea of the process.
1) Subjective Findings: The first part of the exam is the consultation, where we ask you to provide details about your condition. Many times it may be difficult to describe what exactly you are feeling but giving us an idea of what you are experiencing allows us to ask the correct questions that encourage those details to flow. For example, we might ask you to rate on a pain scale of 1-10.
Often times, we get the response, “it’s tough to put a number on it”. Everyone’s pain scale is different and one person’s 10 could be another person’s 5.
This can understandably present challenges, but a person’s individual pain scale will usually stay relatively consistent, but inaccuracies are possible if the patient is also managing their pain with medications.
In a nutshell, subjective findings are just that, subjective. We want to know what you are experiencing, what makes it worse, what makes it better and how it affects your activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs are a very important way we learn how your condition is affecting your life.
2) Objective Findings: The second element is testing. Objective findings can be measured and should be consistent and reproducible. Some of the most common tests we conduct in our chiropractic office include spinal/extremity range of motion evaluation, reflex testing, muscle spasm grading, sensation testing and of course spinal alignment evaluation.
Objective findings may also include findings from tests that were previously performed at another healthcare provider’s office, or from x-rays and MRIs we may have recommended.
The objective part of the examination should never be cut short. If a patient is limited on time, then we would suggest a subsequent appointment in order to complete the remaining portion of the examination. Skipping clinically relevant tests may be detrimental because we believe guesswork is not an option when it comes to your health.
3) Assessment: The third part of the process is the analysis. After the collection of your subjective and objective findings, we study them in depth to determine what condition you are in and what your response to care has been up to this point. If you are improving as expected then you are making great progress, if not, then changes in your treatment plan will be made as needed. If you are responding slower than expected, then we have to find out what is causing the delay in recovery.
Are you performing your doctor recommended take-home instructions? Was there a change in your habits or routine, like lifting more, sitting more, etc.? Is more time needed due to the extent of your condition?
This is quite common. We all wish we could be better yesterday, but it just simply takes time to heal. This is most prevalent in cases where someone has a condition they have lived with for years. If for any reason we find that you are not responding to care after a reasonable amount of time, then change is needed. Does your frequency of care need to be increased? Are additional tests needed, like x-rays, MRI, blood work, etc.? Is a referral to another provider warranted?
If so we are happy to make the appropriate referral.
4) Plan: After taking into consideration all the information gathered during the process mentioned above, we will put together a personalized treatment plan. We will discuss what the treatment will consist of, procedures recommended, and address the health care goals expected from treatment. Needless to say, every person responds differently, so we can never guarantee that treatment will result in improvement or recovery of your condition, but we always guarantee 100% effort on our part.
How We Can Help
We hope that this gives you a better understanding of why periodic examinations are important. The examinations help us confirm and ensure that you are receiving appropriate care to obtain the best results possible. Our goal is to help our patients get healthy and stay healthy. We strive to do our best and recommend the best.
If you are considering becoming a patient at out office we thank you in advance for the opportunity to help. If you are a current patient we thank you for trusting us with your health and for allowing us to do what we love.