We commonly hear questions about the necessity and safety of X-rays.  This post will cover what the research states about the necessity and safety of X-rays for chiropractic treatments.

The article summarized below can be found on Pubmed and has over 55 references to scientific literature supporting its statements.  The full article can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024283/ .

The article states that to remedy spine-related problems, assessments of x-ray images are ESSENTIAL to determine the spine and postural parameters of the patient.  Radiography of a standing patient provides important spine/postural data, such as segmental and total angles of curvature, sagittal balance, and degenerative processes.  A properly trained chiropractor can provide treatment to realign the structure of the spine and address a wide range of conditions and functional impairments resulting from abnormal positions of the spine.  Also, x-rays show contraindications to treatment such as fracture, infection, ligament instabilities, and malignancies to name a few.  Additionally, spinal x-rays improve diagnosis and reduce inappropriate treatment.

The article further states that there are well-meaning but misguided activists who advocate elimination or minimization of exposures in spine radiography.  These activists believe that the risks involved with spinal x-rays outweigh any benefits they may achieve.   However, the research does not support these activists beliefs.  The research shows that the radiation dose employed for a plain radiograph is very low, about 100 times blow the threshold dose needed for harmful effects.  Also, rather than increasing risk, such exposures stimulate the patient’s own protection systems in the body that result in beneficial health effects.  The level of cellular damage produced by a low level dose of x-ray sends signals to stimulate many of the biological protection systems against cellular damage.  Such stimulation produces a range of beneficial effects, including a lower risk of cancer.

Since low dose radiation stimulates many protective systems, including the immune system, it is very unlikely that low-level radiation causes more damage than benefit.  The damage to molecules and cells from low doses of radiation can hardly be observed, while protective mechanisms can be readily seen and quantified.  Concerns about the risk of cancer are baseless because the dose of a chiropractic spinal x-ray is more than 100 times below the dose threshold for radiogenic cancer. In addition, a standard spinal x-rays radiation induces only one-millionth the amount of cellular damage as compared to breathing air for a day!

In conclusion, the research clearly states that x-rays are ESSENTIAL for proper chiropractic diagnosis and treatment.  Additionally, they are extremely safe and actually provide many benefits for the patient!

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