Cervical X-Ray Walkthrough

Why Take X-Rays?

In this article, I wanted to go over what I look for in an x-ray and why I take x-rays.

I think it’s very important to take X-rays with people that come in and have issues, to make sure that it’s safe to do an adjustment — or any other kind of treatment.

Still, some people wonder why x-rays are important in chiropractic care.

If you’re not taking an X-ray, you really don’t know what you’re working on. You don’t have an understanding of what’s beneath the surface, and you really aren’t able to figure out what the problem is, how to solve it, and what your goal is.

We always X-ray patients when we see that the need, and some of my patients are shining examples of the importance of taking x-rays before beginning any kind of chiropractic treatment.

A Real-Life Example

Here is a real-life example of why you always make sure we X-ray the patients, and I would advise getting an X-ray before you get any kind of adjustments, especially if you’re having some neck or back pain.

I had a patient came in a couple of days ago who was having neck pain.

All she did was reach down to pick up an empty box — no injury, no trauma, nothing like that, and started getting neck pain that radiated into her shoulder. She said she had some neck pain before, but nothing major.

We went through after the consultation and did a little bit more with the exam, with some range of motion tests, some orthopedic tests, and found out where the problem was.

I thought it was a good idea to take an X-ray, and it’s a good thing I did.

In an x-ray, I’m looking for a normal curve of the spine. Hers was going forward. Even more importantly, as I began to look down, I noticed a large bone spur!

That’s osteoarthritis, and that tells me that we’ve had an issue that’s been going on for quite a number of years to get this bad. When I looked at the disc space, I noticed that degenerative disc disease has now set in — so now we’ve got two segments that have arthritis and degeneration.

This is now a chronic issue that’s been going on for a while, and this is why just something innocuous, like trying to pick up an empty box, caused all this pain.

Then, I noticed another problem — spondylolisthesis. Now, that is actually a pretty major thing to find because when we have that, it means that the ligaments that surround the vertebrae had to have been damaged or injured to allow this to happen.

Now we’ve got a chronic condition, we’ve got arthritis, we’ve got disc degeneration, we’ve got a spondylo, and we also have ligament instability. That’s a lot of damage over time.

Preventing Future Problems

Yes, it’s going to take quite a bit of a treatment to get get better, but the good news is that we found this in time before it’s permanent.

The bone spurs haven’t fused. There’s still some disc space left. This is something we can still work on.

Are we going to be able to get her back to 100%, like if we would have saw her five or six years ago when this originally started? No.

Still, we can definitely improve her quality of life and help her move around, because right now, she’s sedentary because it’s too painful to turn her head or lift things because it causes radiating pain down her arms.

It’s a good idea that I took this X-ray — otherwise, we never would have found out the extent of this.