At Wellington Family Chiropractic, we don’t just offer short-term solutions for pain management – we’ll tailor a chiropractic treatment to you that provides long-term effects to improve your spine health and wellbeing.
Dr. Ian may take x-rays of your spine during your first chiropractic exam to properly diagnose the source of your pain and discomfort. It is helpful to understand the connection between chiropractic care and diagnostic imaging because not all chiropractic cases require imaging. This helps you know what to expect and why x-rays or other imaging may be needed.
Cases Needing X-Rays for Chiropractic Treatment
Not all chiropractic patients require supplemental imaging to create a personal treatment plan. Here are a few scenarios where Dr. Ian may recommend x-rays:
If you are over the age of 65, or 50 with a history of trauma.
If there are any signs for infection or disease, such as cancer, tumor, or arthritis.
If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for diagnosis.
If you have had pain that has not responded to previous chiropractic treatment or physical therapy.
X-rays should not be used for exploratory purposes or to monitor treatment progress (in most cases), according to the American Chiropractic Association. It is best to avoid the radiation exposure from diagnostic imaging unless it is required. The benefits must outweigh the risks.
Dr. Ian may recommend an MRI or other imaging if there is evidence of soft tissue damage (ligaments, muscles, or tendons.)
Benefits of Diagnostic Imaging in Chiropractic Care
If diagnostic imaging is essential for the treatment of back or neck pain, these are the benefits for your treatment plan. Imaging is performed when there is evidence that the benefits outweigh the risk of radiation exposure.
X-rays can diagnose spinal fracture as a result of trauma or osteoporosis
Diagnose spinal degeneration
Imaging can monitor spinal deformities already diagnosed
Referral to other specialists or medical doctors if chiropractors cannot resolve your pain
Other Tests Offered by Chiropractors
Before agreeing to other tests offered by your chiropractor, make sure to know the benefits for treatment of each test. Often, x-rays and MRI’s are the only tests covered by insurance. Other kinds of tests will not be covered. Just because a test is expensive does not mean that it is worth it.
X-rays are not always needed for treatment. However, Dr. Ian may recommend imaging to rule out other conditions contributing to your back pain. Having x-rays or MRI’s at off-site imaging centers will provide Dr. Ian with professional interpretation from radiologists.
Why Some Doctors Use X-Rays More Frequently
There are some doctors that prefer to use x-rays more often in treatment, but current imaging guidelines ensure the safety of patients. A narrative review in the Chiropractic and Manual Therapies Journal shows the proportion of patients receiving x-rays ranges from 8 to 84%. There are many reasons that chiropractors may use diagnostic imaging for screening new patients.
Chiropractors’ range from medical screening and reassurance of no pre-existing pathology to protection against malpractice lawsuits. There has been no evidence of the benefits outweighing the risk. Radiation exposure, over-diagnosis, and missed diagnosis are risks of unnecessary imaging.
It is recommended that diagnostic imaging still be used cautiously in chiropractic care, and Dr. Ian follows proper guidelines for imaging.