Why the Chiropractor takes x-rays

When you go to most clinics the chiropractor takes x-rays. There are several reason why the chiropractor takes films of your spine.  This is a common question we get asked.  I find it odd that people ask this question. You can not even see an orthopedic doctor with films of the injuries joint first.  Most dentist will not work on you until the x-ray.  Only medical doctor you can see is your primary without special imaging first.  But let’s break it down why the chiropractor does imaging.


The first reason we image is for your safety.  There are several spinal issues that can only be discovered with imaging.  Spondylolisthesis is a condition where the vertebra slides forward.  First danger is it creates pain like any other spinal injury.  Second issue is if it is forward and we adjust the spine in the same direction.  This would result in moving it into more dangerous position.  Third issue is there is no exam to rule this as a finding.  So to summarize if we adjusted a spondylolisthesis without knowing we can make a small issue into a huge issue.

Birth defects also happen.  Where some of the vertebra just don’t grow they way they are meant too.  The most common spot for this is at last lumbar vertebra.  This is also a common site for spinal injuries.  As a result, this area has a special image just to check.  Without films you could go for many adjustments without success.  By contrast, with films we would change our approach for success.


The second reason we have x-rays is to determine your overall health.  Here are a few things we look for.

  • Arthritis
  • Posture
  • Disc Height
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Ankylosis
  • Other health findings (cancer or tumors)


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