Why We take X-rays

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Back Pain, Chiropractic Care, Neck Pain | 0 comments

Why We Take X-rays.

In our office X-rays are taken on the majority of patients.   While we do not take X-rays on all our patients, young children and pregnant women are obvious exceptions.  While some other conditions do not require X-rays when we do recommend them they can be an invaluable diagnostic tool.  On occasion, we will have patients question if they really need x-rays taken.   This is a very important question to answer because not all chiropractors actually take x-rays at their practice.   The X-rays that we take are a standard part of our neuro-structural evaluation.   These X-rays give us extremely important information about the structure, alignment and health of the spine.   In viewing these X-rays it gives us invaluable information that dictates the direction of care in terms of adjustments, therapies, and exercise prescriptions given.   Further more having X-rays allows to be significantly more confident that the treatment we recommend will be beneficial but also as safe as possible.   Often times in taken X-rays we see hidden conditions that would be extremely difficult to uncover with a typical exam that significantly change the method of treatment in the name of patient safety.

Many patients who express concern about X-ray evaluation are concerned about the exposure to radiation associated with X-ray.   This is a legitimate concern but generally when we put the radiation dose received in context patients see that the reward of having X-rays far out weighs the risk.

Many people are concerned with the radiation exposure associated with x-ray.  This is, of course, a legitimate concern, so let’s take a minute to address it.  Radiation from x-rays used for diagnostic purposes (as we use them in our practice) is measured in milliseiverts (mSv), and the dose a person receives is called the effective dose.  Different tissues in the body have varying degrees of sensitivity to radiation exposure, and the term effective dose is used as an average risk over the entire body.   It is estimated that the average person receives an effective dose of 2 milliseiverts (mSv) a year from radiation from the atmosphere.   In comparison a typical X-ray series of the cervical spine or neck is roughly .2mSv or one 10th of what we naturally receive in a given year.

In the end it all comes down to a simple risk vs. reward scenario.   On one hand we have a relatively small dose of radiation received to the specific area we are viewing and an even smaller dose to the surrounding structures of the body.   On the other hand we can gain the knowledge to provide treatment that is more safe, more specified, and more effective than it would be without X-rays.


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