Chiropractors Often Utilize X-ray Studies
Based on the nature of your condition as well as a number of other factors, x-ray studies of your spine or injured body part may be indicated. Doctors of chiropractic receive over 300 hours of x-ray studies in college prior to graduating and thus are fully trained to interpret musculoskeletal radiographs and identify subtle abnormalities of the spine as well as more serious pathologies.
The American College of Physicians and other reputable medical institutions provide guidelines for the use of imaging. Our chiropractors know the science and follow published guidelines to minimize unnecessary radiation exposure, cost, and treatment in musculoskeletal disease.
X-rays Are Relatively Safe and Provide Valuable Information
X-rays are a relatively safe and cost effective way to view the structure and general condition of the spine. Modern x-rays require a very small radiation dose and all radiation exposure precautions must be taken such as protection and screening for pregnant females. They can reveal spinal regions under high stress and expose areas of degenerative change. This can often provide essential additional information which correlates history and examination findings allowing for a more accurate spinal analysis and a more individualized and effective treatment plan. X-rays are also useful in assessing the appropriateness of chiropractic care as they can help to rule out the existence of more serious pathological processes such as spinal fractures, tumors and infections which require immediate emergency medical intervention.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI's, while considerably more expensive, yield much more information and may significantly aid in diagnosis of musculoskeletal conditions. Chiropractors will typically require a short trial of conservative care before an MRI is ordered unless the exam & history reveal red flags or justify the immediate acquisition of an MRI. MRI can be particularly useful in the spine to asses a patients likelihood of success in a course of treatment vs need for surgical intervention.
Computed Tomography (CT)
The use of CT (aka Cat Scan) must be used only when x-ray will not suffice or MRI is contraindicated because of the risks associated with the high dose of radiation exposure inherent to CT and the generally low quality imaging of spinal tissues, cartilage, ligaments, and musculature.