Why Do Chiropractors Need X-rays?

When visiting a Chiropractor for upper cervical care, it is common to be sent for an x-ray of the spine, sometimes even of a part of the body where there aren’t any symptoms; read on to find out the reasons why Chiropractors need x-rays and why it may be dangerous if your practitioner doesn’t take x-rays. The simple answer for why we take x-rays (explained further below) are:
  1. Safety
  2. Specificity


In 2015 I was managing a practice when a patient came in for a consultation reporting neck pain, headaches, low back pain and sensation changes (numbness) into his legs. I performed a physical examination on him and found he had an especially stiff neck (cervical spine) and pain into his legs. Given the findings I sent for x-rays to examine his condition and address if he would or would not be appropriate for Chiropractic care. The next week when he came in for his results he reported he had been to a masseuse/bone setter who had done adjustments on his neck, and he was now getting numbness into both legs and finding it difficult to control urination.
At this point I explained that, based on what I could see on his x-rays, he was not suitable for non-specific manual adjustments to the neck and should be referred immediately to the hospital for spinal stenosis.
This is a condition that was stable and could be managed with very light, specific Chiropractic care. However, due to the aggressive nature of the practitioner he had been to (who didn’t take x-rays or perform any physical tests) he now was showing signs of an upper motor neuron lesion and I advised him to go straight to A&E.
Thankfully this patient did not require surgery, but due to a lack of testing he was put at risk.
This is an extreme example, but any practitioner must be prepared for this and watch out for red flags. Chiropractors take x-rays to ensure that their care is safe and that there are congenital anomalies or old injuries which contradict starting care.
There could be abnormalities of the spine they are born with, or even an old accident a patient has forgotten about but would now be dangerous to not know about.
In this same clinic I also had a patient with an old fracture to her C2, the second bone in the neck. While we were still able to adjust other parts of the neck, it was an important finding to avoid causing problems, which we only saw due to the x-ray. Read here Why X-rays Are Very low Risk.  


If my mechanic came over to my car, listened to the engine and rubbed the body work he may have an idea what the problem is. However, until he lifts the bonnet and runs tests there is a chance this hunch is wrong and he may not fix the problem with the car.
The same is true with Chiropractic, Chiropractors need x-rays provide a way to specifically assess the spine and determine what/where needs to be adjusted.
This will also allow the Chiropractor to assess your condition and make an accurate plan of care for you, based on the clinical research. While in University we spend lots of time working on our technique and practicing our setups. While our instructors do their best to insure we are not incorrectly adjusted, there are times when the setup may not be right or it causes no improvement following an adjustment.
When I graduated and got the opportunity to be properly assessed, this was when my nervous system was functioning better, resulting in no pain, more comfort and less needed adjustments (with check-ups ranging from 1 to 3 months).
At Vitality Chiropractic Centres we take specific x-rays of the neck to ensure we know if it is safe to take on your case and how to adjust your unique condition. We are the only Singapore chiropractic centre to use these types of x-rays, after extensive post graduate training.   Since 2013, Upper Cervical Chiropractor, Dr. Shaan Rai helped patients achieve greater health, relocating to Singapore in 2016 and founding Vitality Chiropractic Centres. He has an impressive track record in providing relief and solutions for people who experience nerve system problems, such as headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo or neurological conditions. Take your life back. For a Complimentary, no-obligation call with the Doctor or to book a Consultation, call +65 8438 9550 or email help@vitalitychiropracticcentres.com to find out if we can help you at our Chiropractic Clinic in Singapore.
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