Sunnyvale Chiropractic                      408-739-2273

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X-Rays: To See Is To Know

Dr. Cady may discuss taking x-rays of your spine before beginning your program. Different bone structure in patients is important to see before a specific adjustment is made. The doctor may then choose different directions for the forces to ensure that the adjustment results in the best correction of the problem. In 5-6% of the population, the spinal structure has a fracture at a portion of bone in the low back. This fracture (called a spondylolysis) usually develops due to a genetic weakness in the area. It can also be caused by trauma such as in gymnastics or football. The fracture has been identified in a child as young as two years of age. Back pain may or may not be present when this abnormality exists. The separated bone can subluxate forward. This is called a spondylolisthesis.

In addition to fracture, the x-ray is also used to see small changes in alignment called subluxations. The doctor uses the position of bones to determine where the ligaments in your spinal column have been stretched or torn. A three-dimensional picture in the doctor's mind is needed prior to the adjustment. The adjustive force is then made in a precise fashion into the directions that reduce tension on the damaged ligaments. Since a high speed thrust into your spinal column is a vigorous procedure, it is important that the doctor use x-ray to more precisely determine how the adjustment is to be made. Also, when the precise correction of the subluxation is made from the start of care, fewer adjustments are usually needed because of their more correct nature.

The usefulness of x-ray in assisting the doctor in both diagnosing and adjusting the subluxation is apparent. The benefits of x-ray however, must always be weighed against the risks of exposure to radiation. For this reason, pregnant women are often excluded from x-ray examination since the fetus is more sensitive to exposure. In most cases, the benefits of the x-ray outweigh the small risks. Dr. Cady tries to reduce exposure and protect you as much as technology allows. Dr. Cady will discuss your individual health concerns and information that was detected in your x-ray examination. When patients understand their health problems and the objectives of the chiropractor, they respond more quickly to care.

X-Ray Safety

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 take radiographs and identify subtle abnormalities of the spine as well as more serious pathologies.

X-Rays Are 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. 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.

Procedures Used To Minimize Exposure: While prolonged exposure to radiation can be potentially harmful to the human body, the diagnostic x-rays utilized by the chiropractic doctor pose a minimal health risk. In fact, according to radiation guidelines for diagnostic x-ray studies, it would take more than 300 full spine x-rays performed by a chiropractor for these guidelines to be met. In addition, the following steps are used to further reduce the amount of x-ray exposure:

  • Only necessary x-ray views will be taken eliminating unnecessary x-ray exposure.

  • Shielding to block or reduce the x-ray beam from affecting sensitive tissues and areas of non-diagnostic interest

  • Rare earth (intensifying) screens can cut x-ray exposure by 50 percent

  • Collimation to narrow the x-ray beam to include areas of interest only

  • Grids to reduce scatter radiation and improve x-ray quality

  • High speed film lowers exposure time

  • Increasing kilo voltage and minimizing mill amperage further reduces x-ray dosage

  • Minimal exposure times of just 100ths of a second

  • Regular changing of processor chemicals to give high quality, diagnostic films