An accurate diagnosis is key to managing all health issues. Without an understanding of the cause of pain and discomfort, it is difficult to effectively manage your condition.
Chiropractors are trained as primary contact health professionals, which means that they have the capacity to diagnose a broad range of conditions. The diagnosis determines whether chiropractic care is appropriate in your case, or whether you would be better served by another health professional.
Diagnosis is reached through a combination of factors - taking a thorough history, a physical examination, and, if required, other investigations such as diagnostic imaging or blood tests.
There are two components of the diagnosis:
Diagnosis based on pain ("the tissue in lesion" diagnosis) This tells us what is causing the pain. With musculoskeletal problems, it is generally a structure that has been overloaded, either by a traumatic event or through prolonged, improper loading.
As an example, causes of sciatica can range from something as serious as a prolapsed lumbar disc that is compressing the nerve that runs down the leg; to trigger points in overloaded ligaments and muscles in the in the lower back , buttocks or the back of the the thigh; to joints in the lower back and pelvis being irritated due to misalignment .
Similarly, headaches, can have a range of causes. Rarely, they can be due to problems such as extreme blood pressure, or an aneurysm; sometimes, they can be due to an infection, to alterations in your blood sugar level, or dehydration; they can result from problems with the mechanics of your jaw; or, very often, they can have a simple musculo-skeletal cause - and it is these headaches where chiropractic can be very effective.
These examples highlight the importance of the chiropractor excluding serious causes before embarking on a course of treatment.
Diagnosis based on function Many pain syndromes are caused by lifestyle habits, lack of mobility, or muscle imbalances. These components need to be identified, and addressed, for long-term solutions to be achieved.
Diagnosis is a multifaceted process that takes some time. Your initial consultation will consist of a thorough history and examination, from which a diagnosis will be made. It will involve
History of complaint
Occupational and sporting history
Specific chiropractic tests
Occasionally, further investigations such as blood tests, x-rays or other scans, may be required, further investigations will be undertaken. , The reasons for recommending these will be explained to you, and will be undertaken in communication with your GP and other healthcare providers as necessary.