Are Chiropractic X-rays Necessary?

Are Chiropractic X-rays Necessary? 
Find out
if your condition warrants having x-rays

This question is related to many other questions patients ask. Fundamentally the question gets down to the doctors motivation as to why an x-ray study (or any service/procedure) is recommended in the first place. Be cautious of a chiropractor who routinely recommends x-rays to every patient.  Some chiropractors do not use x-rays at all, while others may use them as a defensive practice measure, and or to rule out pathology.

X-rays can provide valuable information and are relatively inexpensive. The recommendation of x-ray (or any other imaging test or treatment) should be evidence based and should not be recommended because of a routine practice regiment. When searching for a Fort Collins chiropractor, here are some important facts to understand more about the use x-rays.

Considerations and Indications For When X-Rays Are Necessary

  • Acute trauma or injury such as a car accident, a fall that causes pain (down stairs, ice, wet floor).
  • A history of pain lasting longer than 30 days that does not improve or worsens.
  • A history of chronic pain with multiple episodes that come and go over several years. No explanation by other doctors has been provided as to why the pain is present, or prior treatment attempts have failed to resolve the pain.
  • Pain that continues to get worse including pain that has remained on one side of the body and suddenly changes to the other side or changes and exists newly on both sides.
  •  Numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling in arms, legs, or face.
  • Muscle weakness – can’t walk without foot slapping the ground; frequently find yourself dropping things because your leg/hand/fingers feel weak (can not hold a coffee cup for example).
  • If a patient has history of arthritis or is over the age of 70 and is suspected to have arthritis or osteoporosis.

If x-rays are taken the findings should be reviewed with the patient and related the patients’ symptoms.  Sometimes x-ray findings indicate avoiding specific types of treatment which if performed could result in the patients condition worsening.  This is an example of where x-rays when properly used are very valuable.  When findings help guide the course of treatment for a better patient outcome, the patients experience will be more comfortable, and improved.

Some chiropractors including this author use x-rays to rule out pathology and evaluate structure. When x-rays are recommended (in our office) they serve the patient and the doctor in multiple ways. They are a tool used to measure patient structural integrity.  Modern digital imaging software that resides on DVD media has measurement tools built into the platform.  In addition, traditional x-ray film sheets are hand measured using special rulers to capture data about angles, distances, and symmetry.

Over the years, this author has experienced several patients who he advised have imaging (x-ray/MRI/CT) where the patient resisted and declined recommendations.  In such cases which are rare, for the patients’ benefit, we do not accept patients for care who do not accept our recommendations. In several cases, when the rationale was explained and the patient agreed to testing, the findings revealed include severe arthritis, disc rupture, spinal fracture, degenerative discs, scoliosis, and ligament rupture. Treatment for these patients without the use of imaging tests could have resulted in severe damage or injury.

Looking for a chiropractor who uses x-rays as a tool based on clinical findings and not simply office routine?

Call our Fort Collins chiropractic office at 970-493-3100 and schedule an appointment today.  We offer a complimentary 20-minute consultation including free x-ray/MRI review to determine if we can help you. Sit down with Dr. Gil and see how you feel working together.  No strings, No pressure. No charge. Simply our experience working to help you.

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