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Why Do We Require an Exam?

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

This is a question we usually get asked at least once a month so let’s talk about the importance of a quality exam.

In most cases low back pain, rib pain, neck pain, and headaches are what they seem to be. However, it is those few times when they are due to other issues, sometimes serious issues, that the exam is the only way we would have found the cause and gotten our patient the treatment they needed.

Last year I had an elderly patient come in with low back and neck pain. At first glance it seemed that this would be an easy case and we would get her some relief. During the exam that thought changed drastically. While talking to my patient about her symptoms it came up that she periodically would pass out while standing. This typically happened in the kitchen while cooking. Fainting while standing is a red flag for everyone but it is much more dangerous for the elderly. Risk of serious injury is extremely high in this situation. I finished my exam, which includes taking blood pressure, pulse, listening to heart and lungs, and determined this patient should not be a chiropractic patient. I referred the patient to her primary care physician to request a cardiac work up. Her daughter informed me later that they found she had severe blockage and surgery was needed.

Without taking the time and performing an exam this patient could have gone on to be seriously injured by fainting, have a heart attack or even a stroke.

This was a rare occurrence, but it is exactly why the exam is crucial.

Here are a few more examples of pain and the causes that you wouldn’t necessarily think of.

Headache - stroke, hemorrhage, allergies, vision, dehydration, sinus infection.

Neck pain - stroke, meningitis, dehydration.

Mid back/ rib pain - heart attack, gall bladder attack, pancreatitis.

Low back pain - urinary tract infection, kidney infection, dehydration, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

Shoulder pain - heart attack, gallbladder attack.

Those are just a few of the conditions we must rule out while examining our patients. We pride ourselves on getting our patients feeling better as quickly as possible and a thorough exam helps us provide the care they need.


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