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Why Do I Need Post-Treatment X-Rays?

x-rayIf you have been undergoing chiropractic care, chances are that you have had some spinal imaging completed, be it an X-ray, a CT scan, or an MRI. Often, this imaging is completed at or before the first chiropractic appointment.

However, sometimes your chiropractor may want a repeat X-ray, especially if you have been undergoing chiropractic treatment. It is important to understand why your chiropractor is requesting an X-ray, and how it can help.

I have been a practicing chiropractor for more than 20 years with a certification in spinal interpretation. In this article, I will help explain why your chiropractor may want a post-treatment X-ray, and what they are looking for on the X-ray.

Why Do Chiropractors Use X-Rays?

X-rays are a valuable tool for chiropractors. With the help of an X-ray, your chiropractor can have a visual map of your spine, helping to guide your treatment. Further, software can be used to precisely analyze anatomical landmarks in your spine. This spinal analysis is critical to monitoring your progress and developing an ongoing treatment plan.

Chiropractors can order X-rays and are trained to evaluate them. An X-ray helps the chiropractor see inside of your body, shaded in black, white and grey. The black, white, and grey in the X-ray are based on how much X-ray radiation is absorbed by the tissues in the picture.

Different tissues absorb different amounts of radiation. The calcium in your bones absorbs X-rays more than other tissues do, so your bones look white. Fat and other soft tissues absorb less radiation and look gray. Air, like in your lungs, does not absorb radiation and looks black.

X-rays are useful for chiropractors because they are well-suited for discovering problems in your spine like:

  • Biomechanical issues
  • Altered joint motion
  • Bone degeneration
  • Infection
  • Fracture
  • Joint instability
  • Tumors

Why Does My Chiropractor Want a Post-Treatment X-Ray?

Your NUCCA chiropractor can assess biomechanical changes in your spine by using software to measure anatomical landmarks in your spine. These measurements, which are done on an X-ray, are objective test results that guide your care plan. The landmarks can show your chiropractor where there is normal versus altered joint movement, which can indicate injury to your spinal ligaments.

While you are under chiropractic care, the position of these landmarks can change with treatment. Chiropractic care is intended to improve the biomechanics of your spine, helping to normalize your joint movement while your spinal ligaments heal.

By taking an X-ray after your initial spinal correction, your chiropractor can determine if the spine has improved biomechanics or not based on objective measurements. This can help your chiropractor decide if there needs to be a change to your treatment or not. Once a post x-ray shows a successful reduction of abnormal biomechanics, more x-rays are typically NOT needed unless there is a new injury to the spine or there is a medical need to help determine a change to treatment or prognosis.

Are X-Rays Risky?

X-rays pose minimal risk to healthy tissue. X-rays use low-dose ionizing radiation and expose you to the same amount of radiation you would normally get in a ten-day period.

That said, I will never order an X-ray unless I deem it medically necessary. I follow robust medical evidence when deciding when a repeat X-ray is a good choice and is important for your care.

X-Rays Are a Tool for Monitoring Your Journey to Spinal Health

At every visit, your chiropractor will monitor your progress towards your care goals. Keeping your goals in mind, your chiropractor will regularly assess your progress. X-Rays are one tool your chiropractor can use to see how your treatment is impacting your spinal health. By using tools like repeat X-rays, your chiropractor can better determine:

  • Is your condition improving?
  • Is continued improvement of your condition likely?
  • Should treatment be continued?
  • Should a different treatment be tried?
  • Should the frequency of treatment change?
  • Should other tests be ordered?
  • Should you be referred to another type of back care provider?

Specifically, to properly diagnose mechanical spine pain via X-ray, I make precise measurements of the spine to determine the exact cause of your pain. At Precision Spinal Care, I use the American Medical Association’s Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. This document instructs chiropractors like me on how to read and evaluate X-rays.

When your chiropractor comes to conclusions about these issues, they should keep an open channel of communication to share their thoughts with you. Further, you should always be encouraged to ask your chiropractor about your progress and their treatment strategies.

X-Rays at Precision Spinal Care

As an expert in spine health, I am qualified to order and evaluate your X-rays and competently address the underlying conditions that are causing you pain. I am trauma and hospital-qualified and have credentials in MRI spine interpretation, spinal biomechanical engineering and orthopedic testing through the Academy of Chiropractic. I am also a fellow in Spinal Biomechanics and Trauma which is recognized through the SUNY Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and credentialed spine care specialist, I strongly believe that the first visit is best used as a time to fully assess your condition. This includes a thorough exam of your spine and a discussion about your medical problems. At this visit, I may also order an X-ray if I think it is medically appropriate.

After your exam at the first visit, we will discuss my evaluation. If chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you.

If chiropractic care is the best way to meet your care goals, we will work together to develop a plan to meet your needs. I make sure to set reasonable expectations and milestones for your recovery. At regular intervals, I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting these goals and that chiropractic remains the best choice for you.

At Precision Spinal Care we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs. If we can help, we will. If we determine it is best for you to see a different specialist, we will help you find a doctor who can address your needs.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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