A Chiropractic Visit: Diagnostic Tests and Treatment

Physical Examination and Diagnostic Tests

During your chiropractic examination the chiropractor will ask you to perform several simple movements to view your posture and range of motion. For example, you may be asked to bend forward, backward, and from side to side. Other tests are listed below.
During your chiropractic examination the chiropractor will ask you to perform several simple movements to view your posture and range of motion. Photo Source: 123RF.com

•During gait examination the chiropractor watches how you walk. Marching or walking in place may reveal inconsistencies between the pelvis and spine.

•Bending in different directions measures flexibility and may aid in the evaluation of stiffness and abnormal curvature of the spine, as seen in scoliosis.

•Posture is easy to check when the patient is standing or sitting. Poor posture is one of the leading causes of joint and muscle pain, spinal misalignment, and subluxation.

•During the Piriformis Test (Piriformis Syndrome) the patient is asked to flex and bend the knee and hip while lying down. The chiropractor then gently pushes on the leg to check hip joint mobility and flexibility of the piriformis muscle.

•Straight Leg Raise (SLR) measures tension and irritation to the sciatic nerve (sciatica) and flexibility of the hamstring muscle. While lying down, the doctor raises one leg (at a time) with the knee in a locked position several inches from the floor.

•During the Psoas Muscle Test the chiropractor gently pushes on the raised leg to assess strength, pain, or imbalance of the joints between the vertebrae.

•The Yeoman’s Test helps the chiropractor to determine if the patient’s sacroiliac joints are sprained or strained. The patient lies on their back, and the chiropractor flexes the patient’s leg (one at a time) and extends the thigh. Pain in the buttocks and low back may indicate joint strain/loss of joint mobility.

•Measuring the length of each leg helps the chiropractor determine if there is a discrepancy in leg length. The adjustment may help to balance the pelvis and correct leg length discrepancy.

•Other tests include hand strength (grip), bilateral assessment of body weight, muscle spasm/trigger point analysis, reflexes, sensation, and muscle testing. If necessary, the chiropractor may order an x-ray or MRI studies, blood tests, and a urinalysis.


When your chiropractor has determined what the problem is, he or she will talk to you about the diagnosis, the possible cause(s) of your disorder, and treatment options. Included is an explanation of how the treatment is given, the number of visits necessary to complete treatment, costs, and expected outcomes.

Treatment Alternatives

You will also learn what to do if the recommended treatment does not provide relief from your symptoms and how you can improve your overall health including advice about nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise. Of course, if your chiropractor determines your condition is not within his or her area of expertise, you may be referred to another health care specialist.

Be sure to learn and understand all you can about your condition and the proposed treatment. If anything is unclear – ask questions. Just as you might with other practitioners, you may want to obtain a second opinion to make sure the diagnosis and treatment is right for your condition.

Remember – millions of people have found relief from their symptoms and resolution of a disorder using chiropractic medicine. It may well provide the answer and relief you are looking for too.

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