Chiropractic Treatment Guide

Susan Abel is a chiropractor in Mona Vale on the Northern Beaches of Sydney

What Happens at your First Appointment

Your first chiropractic appointment is one hour long. In that first appointment, I will take a medical history, discuss with you what you want to achieve with treatment, and perform a physical examination. The physical examination will look at how well you move and check for any problems that are not musculoskeletal.

Medical History

The medical history is important because I need to understand the full picture of your health to be able to treat you effectively. Some medications or health conditions will influence the treatment options. It is helpful if you have a list of any medications you are currently taking with you on your first appointment, as well as any vitamins or supplements. If you have reports from any imaging performed previously, it is also helpful to bring a copy of the report.

Goals of Treatment

Common reasons for seeking chiropractic care include pain relief, to improved function, or rehabilitation.(1–5) One of the reasons that people are often dissatisfied with their health care is that they don’t feel heard. It is important to establish what you want out of chiropractic treatment. Is it pain relief? Is it so that you can keep working, or for a particular sport? It is important for us to agree on what you want out of treatment and to determine realistic goals. Then we review your progress. If you aren’t meeting your treatment goals then we need to review and understand why we are not progressing.

Physical Examination

After taking your medical history and understanding your goals of treatment I will perform a physical examination.

It is helpful if you bring shorts and wear a sports bra (if female) during the physical examination so that I can see your posture. During the examination I will take your blood pressure, look at your posture, and test how well you move in the area(s) giving you difficulty. Orthopaedic testing is often used at this point. Orthopaedic testing often involves the placement of a limb into a particular position and seeing if you can hold that position against gravity or against a minor push. In some cases I will also perform a neurological examination: where I test reflexes, your sense of touch, and potentially things like balance.

Diagnosis and Treatment

After I have done my assessment I will tell you my diagnosis and intended course of care as well as gain consent to conduct treatment. Treatment will be tailored to your circumstances and will often include soft tissue treatment, recommended exercises, joint mobilisations and adjustments. If you don’t want chiropractic adjustments, or I think they are inappropriate for your circumstances, that is not a problem. Adjusting is only one tool of many available for your treatment.

Repeat Appointments

Repeat appointments are 30 minutes long and consist of documenting your progression, treatment of various modalities as appropriate, and sometimes I will go through a rehabilitation plan with you. In some cases, I might give you a questionnaire. This is so that I can get a baseline of your state at the beginning of treatment and then document your progress periodically through the treatment period.

If you come to a repeat appointment with a new condition, it may take a little longer, as I will have to ask some questions and perform tests to understand how this is affecting you.

If I have not seen you in over a year, I may need to give you an initial appointment again, so that I can catch up with any changes to your health status in that time.

Susan's Bio

Susan treats both the spine and the peripherals: shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. Susan uses many different modalities in her treatments: mobilisations, myofascial soft tissue work, rehabilitation exercises, and chiropractic adjusting. If you are afraid or dislike the chiropractic ‘crack’ it is not a problem. Susan is happy to work without adjusting if you prefer. In some cases, she will rule out chiropractic adjusting, even if you want it, in the case that she believes it is unsafe to do so. She has been described as one of the most thorough chiropractors that many patients have seen, as she believes that without a complete history and examination she can’t treat effectively.

She is often the choice of chiropractor for those who would prefer an osteopath – but can’t find one – or those with a dislike of being adjusted.

Her repeat appointments are half an hour long (rather than the usual 15 minutes of most chiropractors). This longer time is required so that she can include the soft tissue and rehabilitation exercises and other modalities into the treatment.

Susan has been working as a chiropractor since 2016. She trained in chiropractic after first having a career in information technology which gives her a more mature perspective on the demands of trying to achieve a work/life balance.

  • 1997 Bachelor of Science (physics) from UNSW
  • 2012 Bachelor of Science (biology) from Macquarie University
  • 2016 Masters of Chiropractic (applied) from Macquarie University
  • 2018 Masters of Chiropractic (research) from Macquarie University


1. Corcoran KL, Dunn AS, Formolo LR, Beehler GP. Chiropractic Management for US Female Veterans With Low Back Pain: A Retrospective Study of Clinical Outcomes. J Manipulative Physiol Ther [Internet]. 2017;40(8):573–9. Available from:

2. Corcoran KL, Dunn AS, Green BN, Formolo LR, Beehler GP. Changes in female veterans’ neck pain following chiropractic care at a hospital for veterans. Complement Ther Clin Pract [Internet]. 2018;30:91–5. Available from:

3. French SD, Charity MJ, Forsdike K, Gunn JM, Polus BI, Walker BF, et al. Chiropractic Observation and Analysis Study (COAST): Providing an understanding of current chiropractic practice. Med J Aust. 2013;199(10):687–91.

4. Nook DD, Nook BC. A report of the 2009 world games injury surveillance of individuals who voluntarily used the international federation of sports chiropractic delegation. J Manipulative Physiol Ther [Internet]. 2011;34(1):54–61. Available from:

5. Xue CCL, Zhang AL, Lin V, Myers R, Polus B, Story DF. Acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathy use in Australia: A national population survey. BMC Public Health. 2008;8:1–8.