In a nutshell, the chiropractor makes his diagnosis on basis of a medical history, clinical examination and if indicated X-rays or MRI.
The medical history is obtained by the chiropractor at the first visit. This is where the patient tries to describe what is wrong. From this the chiropractor will ask a series of questions to light different aspects of the complaint
This process is a important part of the process of working out a diagnosis.
The clinical examination starts with a postural analysis. Then the neuromusculoskeletal system is mapped in relation to function and dysfunction. Especially dysfunctions in the joints, which can be the cause of much of the patients symptoms.
Palpation is then used to examine the spine, muscles, tendons, ligaments etc. to find and reproduce some of the symptoms the patient is experiencing. Through palpation the chiropractor can find trigger points (adhesion in musculature), inflammation in tendons and ligaments and muscle inbalances which again will cause all the above.
Through this process of diagnosis, the chiropractor will be able to map out where the pain is located and what movements are causing it, if the complaint has its roots in the musculoskeletal system. The chiropractor can then diagnose the complaint, before working out a management plan to restore function to this system.
Systemic examinations might also be performed as to what the nature of the complaint requires.
At this stage the chiropractor will decide if an x-ray or any other forms of imaging is required. The chiropractor will also refer out to GP or other practitioners if necessary.
A management plan will then be formed to outlay the best treatment and management for the patient.