In most areas of health care, like dentistry or orthopedics, x-rays are common, routine and usually performed without any doubts or questions. Patients understand that x-rays are an integral part of diagnosing a problem and that without them the dentist or orthopedic surgeon would essentially be guessing and this would lead to the quality and safety of the procedure being compromised. However, when it comes to chiropractic, the use of x-rays has somehow become debatable. In fact, there are many chiropractors that don’t take x-rays as a standard practice. When a patient enters our office and discovers that x-rays are a standard practice for all cases, they might naturally have a few questions.
For the most part, the questions raised by patients are out of a fear of receiving too much radiation and increasing their health risks. It makes since to have this type of concern, we know that excessive exposure to ionizing radiation, like x-rays, can increase the risk of cancer. However, when patients understand the actual dosage they are receiving along with the clinical need for x-rays, their concerns are quickly dispelled. X-rays are another form of radiant energy similar to light or radio waves, however x-rays have the ability to penetrate through the body. They are actually all around us in the form of background radiation that naturally occurs in nature. This is found most commonly from Radon we eat, drink, or breathe but also from radiation in the soil/rocks. So, we are almost constantly exposed to x-rays at some level.
When you take your car to the dealership, do they start swapping parts for new ones or is your vehicle diagnosed and then the problem corrected? One of the most important elements of chiropractic care is diagnostic. Chiropractors rely on a variety of diagnostic techniques in order to fully understand what is occurring in the patient’s musculoskeletal system, and how a given treatment intervention could bring positive results. An X-ray can show a chiropractor exactly what is happening in the body in terms of alignment and structure. The X-ray conveys some other information too, such as the presence of scar tissue or arthritis in a given area, both occurrences that need to be considered when forming some sort of treatment pathway.
So, why do we need an x-ray of your spine? Much of the reason comes from how we analyze the spine and the fact that we want to know as much as possible about it before we begin to make specific corrections to it. As Chiropractors x-rays help us in ruling out any pathologies, or recent fractures that may be present or contributing to your condition. You might be surprised how many secondary issues we have uncovered unrelated to a patient’s primary complaint, simply because we took x-rays. Just as an orthopedic surgeon or dentist needs x-rays in order to perform his or her job and provide the highest quality of care to the patient, so do chiropractic doctors. We would rather know than guess.