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When should I get an X-Ray? A Chiropractic Advice

“Maybe I should get an x-ray then?”, said one patient to me after his second visit. “I am still not feeling better.” As a chiropractor, it baffles me how much patients believe having an x-ray is equivalent to “optimal care”. On the contrary, when a doctor relies exclusively on the value of advanced imaging for all patients, this diminishes the important role of clinical judgment and knowledge. This is also wasted tax money spent on unnecessary care. Did you know that, in most cases of non-traumatic musculoskeletal pain, there is no need to take any x-ray? Only a good clinical examination, patient education and appropriate treatment plan and duration should be sufficient.

However, in some cases, an x-ray may be needed. This is only done if:

  1. If we suspect a broken or dislocated bone.
  2. If we suspect a dislocated bone.
  3. If we suspect there could be an underlying infection within the tissues.
  4. If we suspect there could be a major pathological process such as cancer within the tissues.
  5. If we know of, or suspect, an underlying arthritide (joint disease) or autoimmune condition.
  6. If we need to monitor the progression of scoliosis (in younger age usually)
  7. If pain has not responded after a course of treatment or is getting dramatically worse
  8. If the person is over 65 years of age and is suffering from a musculoskeletal complaint
  9. If we think that the information we receive from the x-ray will change how we treat the patient or help to guide our prognosis

Although the above list is fairly long, it only accounts for approximately 5% of the patient population, with broken bones being the most common concern. Although x-rays are a form of radiation, one exposure in and of itself is not dangerous. That’s why if you previously had done an x-ray at a facility before seeing us at Kent Chiro-Med Wellness Clinic, we would request it because it’s already been taken before. There’s no need for more radiation! Furthermore, if we believe that you don’t need an x-ray, we won’t provide a request for you. And so it is with most conditions like back pain, neck pain, headache, or even minor sports injuries, x-rays are not needed because they most likely will not change the course of care. Each time you will visit us, the pain will lessen day by day until you are able to finally resume your normal activities of daily living.

Keep in mind that chiropractors are doctors. They are well trained in the taking, reading, and interpretation of x-rays. If you have suffered an injury and it is very painful, you can schedule a 15 minutes complimentary consult with us at Kent Chiro-Med Wellness Clinic, and we will examine you to see if you are a candidate or not for an x-ray.