The chiropractic diagnosis process is one that may not be well known before you come in for your first visit. While chiropractic may seem a bit different from other specialties in the medical field, in truth it is much the same. This is especially so when it comes to the method for assessing and classifying your potential issues.
According to Merriam-Webster, differential diagnosis is “the process of differentiating between two or more conditions that share similar signs or symptoms.” Your chiropractor will use this method to help identify any potential issues. This is typically handled through the use of a triage based methodology. This form of triage would involve the classification of the cause of injury according to order of severity.
When assessing lower back pain, for example, your chiropractor may classify your low back injury into one of three categories. These categories could include the following:
Possibly Serious Issues: Problems such as open wounds, burns, hemophilia, problems with artificial joint implants, infections in your joints, fractures, tumors, major neurological issues, and problems with your pacemaker may all be included in this category.
Nerve Related Issues: This category covers troubles that lead to sciatica (radiculopathy) via the pinching or compression of the nerve root in the lower back. Some of the typical causes of pinched nerves can include spinal stenosis, herniated lumbar discs, and spondylolisthesis (the forward displacement of a vertebral bone in relation to the natural curve of the spine).
Non Specific Issues: Typically this is the most common form of lower back pain that chiropractors see. This mechanical low back pain includes any sort of pain that doesn’t have an identifiable cause. Many people tend to write off this sort of pain, thinking it will go away on its own. Left untreated however it may remain and even worsen over time.
When your chiropractor finds a diagnosis of one of the potentially serious issues, you will usually receive a referral to a medical specialist and/or surgeon that can provide the appropriate care for that issue. Your chiropractor may also work with other back pain specialists to help co-manage your care. In the case of serious injuries or illnesses, your chiropractor will usually avoid any sort of chiropractic manipulation in relation to the relevant anatomy affected by said injury or illness.
When it comes to chiropractic diagnosis, chiropractors are typically very careful to do so in a thorough manner with your best interests in mind. If chiropractic care is not indicated for your issue, whether it may simply may not be effective or may even be potentially counter productive, your chiropractor will let you know and will usually help you to identify those who can provide the sort of treatment you require.
Chiropractic diagnosis involves zero guess work and is not as mysterious as some may believe. It simply involves good, old fashioned medical triage and differential diagnoses.