How many different doctors have you been too who have conducted an examination? Hopefully all of them, right? Any doctor’s office you walk into whether it’s a PCP, dentist, optometrist, gynecologist, chiropractor, etc., should perform an initial examination with each patient to assure accuracy and professionalism. However, just because a doctor performs an exam that doesn’t mean it is a good exam. There is a difference between an exam and a thorough exam, and that is what we will be discussing in this week’s blog along with what our facility does for the best patient care possible.

Exam VS Thorough Exam

This is not something we should have to discuss but unfortunately, some doctors don’t perform an accurate exam or don’t even perform one period. We are in no way, shape, or form bashing other doctors for their methods of practice. However, we personally could never adjust a patient without performing a thorough examination. Imagine a dentist cleaning your teeth without x-rays or an optometrist giving you a prescription without testing your vision. You wouldn’t be satisfied, would you? Again, hopefully not something you have or ever will experience, but there are doctors who do that.

So, what is the difference between an exam and a thorough exam? An exam is very short and brief. It may consist of vitals and a few reflexes and that’s it. In some medical professions, that is completely appropriate, but in others, this might be inappropriate and not enough information to formulate a diagnosis. Unfortunately, not to scold our own profession, but a high percentage of chiropractors perform a poor examination or no examination period.

A thorough examination is what all doctors should strive to do, especially chiropractors. A thorough examination is when a doctor actually sits down with each patient and takes a detailed patient history. This further allows the doctor to perform an accurate series of testing which may include diagnostic imaging, orthopedic testing or any other related testing.

A poor examination can take minutes to perform. A thorough examination can take an hour and sometimes longer depending on the medical profession. Think about it this way: patients are coming into an office because they need the doctor’s help. They are paying the doctor in complete confidence to fully diagnose and treat the problem. If the patient is willing to put the full investment in the doctor’s hands, the doctor should invest full knowledge in the patient’s health.

Our Thorough Examination

At our facility, we will not treat a patient without performing an examination. We, as doctors, don’t feel comfortable treating a patient without complete knowledge of what is wrong. Our examination begins with the patient sitting down with one of the doctors and going through a detailed patient history to determine what x-rays and orthopedic examination we need to conduct. We are not full spine adjusters. We only adjust the region of complaint. So, if the patient has a neck issue, we only examine and treat the neck. If they are a low back case, we only examine and treat the low back.

Once the consultation is complete, we take a set of x-rays in the region of complaint. Most chiropractors nationwide either take full spine x-rays or don’t take them period. There is no need to take full spine x-rays if only one region is bothersome, but taking x-rays are crucial so the doctor knows exactly where to adjust. We will not treat a patient without a set of x-rays. Our goal is to get patients better and give them the best care possible, and the only way to do that is by knowing the exact rotation of the spine. We will go further into detail on x-rays in a future blog.

Once we have completed x-rays, we sit down and do an in-depth orthopedic neurological exam. The exam consists of vitals, reflexes, muscle strength testing, sensory testing, range of motion and a series of orthopedic procedures to look for any muscle, bone, disc and/or nerve damage. These tests will help us distinguish whether the patient is a chiropractic, decompression or neuropathy candidate. This will also help us determine the severity of the case and further determine the extent of the custom treatment plan.

Once all the testing is complete, on the next visit, we sit with the patient and present a report of findings. This shows the patient exactly what is wrong and how long we think it will take to get better. In next week’s blog, we will discuss the report of findings in greater detail. Decompression and neuropathy candidates require we take more time going through the examination and any MRIs or other medical procedures to assure we give patients the best care possible.

As you can see, we don’t take patient care lightly. Most doctors’ goals are to get the patient better. Our goal is to get patients’ better as well as keep them out of pain and give them the health and life they want and deserve. As chiropractors, we took an oath to help each patient to the best of our ability and that’s just what we will do. If you have any questions about our office procedures, please feel free to call us at (724) 547-3377 or checkout our website at for more content about our office.

Yours in Health,

Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC