Why Do Some Chiropractors Take X-Rays?

Chiropractors pride themselves on the ability to feel, or palpate, disturbances in the motion and alignment of spinal joints. We perform postural evaluations to understand the imbalances in a patient’s skeletal and muscular frame. We may ask a patient to stand on two scales, one under each foot, to detect pressure differences in the hips and legs created by postural imbalances.  We do muscle and reflex testing to see how well the nerves are talking to the muscles and relaying messages back to the brain. There are many different tests that a Chiropractor can perform to help understand clinical aspects of their patients. And taking x-rays allows a Doctor of Chiropractic to understand even more about a patient. When required, they are by far the most helpful way to complete this clinical understanding. 

Chiropractors take x-rays with the patient standing up, so that we can interpret gravitational alignment. Since x-rays are essentially shadow projections of the spine, standing x-rays reveal imbalances caused when the spine is “loaded” under gravity. Lying versus standing pictures of the same patient will often look entirely different! Medical x-rays are generally taken with the patient lying down, because alignment information is not seen as front-and-centre to their analysis. But I always treat a patient using standing x-rays, because it is standing or dynamic alignment that I am most interested in improving.

In addition, spinal pictures allow us to:

  • see how much degeneration exists in and around spinal joints
  • visualize issues a patient may have been born with, like vertebrae that are fused together
  • understand any curvatures of the spine
  • understand bone density and many other factors deemed clinically important

To see is to know.  Not to see is to guess. And when it comes to a patient’s health, I would rather not guess if given the choice. Pictures can tell us WHAT is going on, and armed with this knowledge, we can be clearer about HOW we are going to help.

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

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