Your first visit

Your first visit will last up to an hour. First of all I take a case history, asking you about the specific reason you have come in, but also going through your whole medical history. You may have health issues that I need to know about for safety purposes, or which might be contributory factors, even though they may not seem to be related to the reason for your visit. I will also ask about what medications you are taking and any family history of serious illnesses or chronic conditions.

If you have a complicated history or are taking several medications, it might be an idea to write it down in advance. Don’t worry if you don’t remember everything – case history taking often carries on through several sessions, as things come to mind.

For babies and children, the conception (natural or assisted), pregnancy, labour and delivery are important elements of the history. Any previous obstetric history may be relevant too.

After taking the case history I will ask you to undress to your underwear. Everyone is self-conscious about this, but I need to assess the structure of your body, posture and muscle balance, regardless of where the symptoms are. With children, this is a more sensitive issue. I try to assess without undressing but, when I do need to see the body, I am always appropriate, careful and considerate with your child. Establishing a good rapport is most important. Rest assured that I have more than 15 years experience with treating children and we have masses of toys and books to help to make them feel relaxed.

After examining you standing, sitting and lying down, there might be further tests I need to carry out. For instance, I may check the function of your neurological system or take your blood pressure. With babies I check reflexes and developmental milestones. Often this can be done unobtrusively as part of the session, without the child realising that they are being observed. Our toys and books can also function as developmental tests.

I will then discuss with you my findings and what they mean. If it is appropriate for me to treat you, I will explain what I will be doing. If I think you need to see your GP, or another healthcare practitioner, I will explain why and what to do next. It is part of my professional duty to ensure that you receive the best care. If your condition is not within my remit to treat, I will refer you to the most appropriate practitioner, such as your GP.

You will normally receive some treatment during the first session. Treatment involves gentle hands-on work, usually with you lying down. If you cannot lie down, it is possible to treat you sitting or even standing, to a certain extent. If possible, I will give you an idea of how much treatment you are likely to need. For chronic conditions, such as arthritic pain, you may need ongoing treatment on a regular, but not necessarily frequent, basis.

Treatment often works best when the patient and I work as a team – me giving treatment and advice; and you doing exercises or making lifestyle changes that we have discussed. People usually feel empowered by this approach and enjoy feeling more in control of their health.

After your visit, you may experience some sort of reaction. Often people just feel tired, but you may be achey or sore for 24 hours or so. This is normal and soon settles down. If you can take it easy after treatment and get an early night, so much the better.

Your first visit will be an interesting, informative and pleasant experience, with some ideas on how to maintain or improve your health for the future.