What to Expect Before (And After) Your First Adjustment


First time visiting a chiropractor? Everyone has been there before. But if you are completely new to visiting a doctor of chiropractic, then you may have questions about what to expect not only with your first visit but with your results as part of your care plan.

The good news is—there is nothing to be nervous about! Chiropractic care is safe, gentle, effective and, most importantly, it works! Here at our Laurel, MD chiropractic office, we find that many of our patients have questions about their first time—and we are here to help!

If you’re considering chiropractic care for a new sports injury, car accident issue, or chronic pain, a chiropractor is here to help. Here are a few things you can expect before (and after) your first visit with a chiropractor.

What Should I Expect With My First Chiropractic Adjustment?

Ready to get started with your first chiropractic appointment, here’s what to expect!

Your First Appointment

You made a decision to see a doctor of chiropractic. Congratulations! You have taken the first and most important step towards less pain and a healthier you. Before your adjustment, you will come in for a full examination. Here, your doctor will ask you questions about your current pain or symptoms and take a full medical history.

Your chiropractor will also perform a physical examination to determine the best way possible to get the care that you need.


After your full examination, your doctor may want to take a full set of X-rays. This is one of the best and most effective ways to diagnose any issues that you may have and to make certain you are getting the best care possible.

X-rays will be able to give your chiropractor a detailed look at your areas of concern and get a bigger-picture look at your spine, which could be causing other concerns in your spine. After all—it’s all connected!

This is also an opportunity for your chiropractor to make sure there aren’t any fractures, breaks, arthritis, or serious injuries to work around.

Here at our Laurel, MD chiropractic office, we always read your films within one business day so you can get started with your chiropractic care right away, the very next day. We know that many times, you are visiting a chiropractor because you are in pain and we want to make sure that you can get started on a care plan that will get you out of pain ASAP.  

The following day you can come in for a full report of findings and insight from your chiropractor about what is going on with your body.

Your First Adjustment

After your doctor reads your X-rays, it’s time for your first adjustment. Your adjustment will be entirely custom to what your body needs and what your doctor finds in their exam and x-rays. Here at our Laurel chiropractic office, we will be able to utilize a variety of techniques depending on what will work best for you.

Our doctors utilize a variety of techniques and will customize a chiropractic technique that will work for you. Adjustments are comfortable, gentle, and never forceful. Sometimes, patients expect to hear a “snap” or a “crack” when they get adjusted. This sound is known as cavitation and is actually a change in pressure within your joints. Sometimes you hear this noise and sometimes you don’t.

It is completely natural and is in no way “snapping” or “cracking” anything with your bones. The goal of the adjustment is not to pop anything back in place, but instead to restore balance and proper alignment to your spine.

Many people feel an instant euphoric sensation or sense of relief with their first adjustment right at the moment.

After Your Adjustment

After the adjustment, most people feel great, but some will feel soreness in the adjusted area, especially if they were particularly tight or sore ahead of time. Your chiropractor will likely recommend icing the area after the first adjustment. The good news is, if you are feeling slight soreness, these feelings will likely dissipate over the next few hours.

Here at our Laurel Chiropractic office, we will have you lay on a table known as a traction table. This table has a moving mechanism in it that mobilizes the spinal column while providing the platform to stretch muscles and ligaments. This table will help relieve discomfort and gently manipulate the muscles and discs to create space for better balance and mobility.

The traction table isn’t just an essential part of your care, but it also is very relaxing. In fact, some of our patients get so relaxed that they fall asleep. This treatment isn’t just great for your spine but it gives your body time to allow your adjustment to settle in and time for you to keep your spine in the optimal position for recovery.

Moving Into Your Care Plans

Soon, you will likely feel more relaxed and have less muscle tension, we also typically recommend making sure you stay hydrated after your adjustment. This will help keep your muscles relaxed and healthy and make sure that your body has what it needs to recover after the first adjustment.

Based on your area of concern, your chiropractor will recommend a type of care plan that can help you get the results you need to feel your best. Similar to care plans through a physical therapist, you may need to come in multiple times per week for adjustments, muscular work, exercises, and treatments such as the traction tables that will help your body heal and help you feel better.

From there, your doctor will keep a close eye on your progress and your symptoms and will likely set up a reevaluation several weeks into your treatment to determine where you are in your recovery process. Many patients continue with some type of maintenance care after their treatment plan, this is less-regular care that helps you maintain optimal spinal health—similar to brushing your teeth between dentist appointments.  

If you have questions about the process of working with a chiropractor, or what type of results you can expect with regular chiropractic care, contact our Laurel, MD chiropractic office today. Our team will be happy to answer any of your questions or walk you through the process. You can reach us by booking an appointment online or by calling our office at 301-776-0755.

Dr. Terence P. McAuliffe Jr. Family Chiropractor at McAuliffe Chiropractic Office

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