Chiropractic and X-rays
Chiropractic and radiography share a common history. Both were born in 1895 and the chiropractic profession was among the first to use them for imaging the spine.
Today's chiropractors have extensive training in both taking x-rays and in their interpretation. Most chiropractors also get significant post-doctoral training in radiographic interpretation by attendance at continuing education programs in radiology. As a result, chiropractors' ability to accurately interpret spinal x-rays rivals or exceeds their medical counterparts.
In a study titled Interpretation of abnormal lumbosacral spine radiographs. A test comparing students, clinicians, radiology residents, and radiologists in medicine and chiropractic published in the journal SPINE, (1995 May 15;20(10):1147-53; discussion 1154.) John Taylor, MD et.al. from the Department of Radiology, University of California Medical Center, San Diego, evaluated the performance accuracy of various health professionals in the interpretation of low back x-rays. The results demonstrated that chiropractic practitioners had a comparable ability to accurately interpret x-rays when compared with like medical providers.
Why chiropractors take x-rays
Like all medical providers, chiropractors take x-rays and order other imaging tests for several reasons. The first is obviously to rule out pathology such as fracture, infection, and tumors. We can also rule out various metabolic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis and developmental conditions such as as growth plate disturbances. We can determine if degenerative processes such as disc disease, facet arthrosis, and spinal stenosis. X-rays allow chiropractors to look for congenital anomalities in the spine such as block vertebrae, spina bifida, and joint assymetries to name just a few.
Chiropractors also use x-rays to evaluate spinal biomechanics. This includes vertebral malposition, postural distortions, scoliosis, and evaluate ligamentous instability with stress x-rays.
To assure the best possible x-rays we now take our x-rays digitally. This assures that the images are clearer and easier to read. We no longer have to use toxic chemicals to process our x-rays and the x-rays are rapidly processed and available for review.