If you’ve seen a Chiropractor it is highly likely they have referred you for a full spine plain film x-ray.
Dr. Andrew Arnold says, ‘In my view, and that shared by a large proportion of my colleagues, X-rays are a valuable resource enabling your Chiropractor to see the fundamental structure of your spine.’
Let me elaborate.
An x-ray tells 1000 words. We can get an impression of where potential spinal joint stresses are, how well your spine is compensating and correcting to keep you upright and balanced, any congenital abnormalities like extra vertebrae, extra ribs, fused spinal joints etc., spinal and pelvic misalignment and osteoarthritic degeneration. In rare cases, we may pick up something more sinister, like cancer.
We can then marry this information to your clinical picture and our objective assessment to create a fairly complete picture of your overall structural condition.
This is certainly my experience.
In my practice, I create a line drawing which I call your blueprint which I refer to regularly.
It enables me to accurately navigate your spine and make sure I always choose the safest, most effective techniques to keep you well adjusted.
Many of my patients ask me how much change they can expect with their x-rays after a period of Chiropractic adjustment.
This is a tricky question to answer.
We think it takes 30-50% of change before evidence of degeneration or something else abnormal appears on your x-ray.
Some Chiropractors recommend x-rays semi-regularly, i.e. yearly.
In my view, I recommend x-rays every 7-10 years unless something significant has happened in between such as a car accident. This is because I don’t expect to see much change. As I said it takes 30-50% of change to see any evidence of change.
Furthermore, I believe there is a functional component which comprises ligaments, muscles and other soft tissues associated with the joint. Let’s say these make up 20% of the overall structure of the joint. This is where I would expect to see changes and how I explain postural improvements. This is the slack in the spine if you like, that enables positive postural and biomechanical changes.
I also believe regular Chiropractic adjustment halters the advancement of spinal degeneration and if I was to re x-ray more regularly all I would expect to see would be no regression, i.e. degeneration, curvature, alignment etc.
So whilst x-rays are important and an essential guide to managing a patient (in my view), they are too crude, compared to say CT scans or MRI to demonstrate noticeable changes in accordance with how a patient feels they are improving or the Chiropractor assesses.
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is the Principal Chiropractor and owner, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, married to Dr. Linda Wilson, the Stress Specialist and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.