Chiropractors are sought by patients for neck and lower back pain relief. When a patient initially sees me for chiropractic care, I may take spinal x-rays of the area of their complaint. This article will discuss the history of how chiropractic and x-rays are related and the importance of x-rays in the diagnosis and treatment for spinal pain relief.
There is historical evidence that forms of manipulation of the spine for back pain have been utilized for over 5000 years. The modern area of spinal manipulation began in 1895 in America when Daniel David Palmer first successfully started treating patients with spinal adjustments for misalignments. Dr. Palmer soon realized how chiropractic care could benefit people suffering from back and neck pain and started a school to train future chiropractors which became the Palmer College of Chiropractic.
Interestingly, also in 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen is credited with developing the first use of x-ray. In 1901 Rontgen was awarded the first Nobel prize in physics for his discovery. The relationship between x-rays and chiropractic continues through today.
While attending the five years of doctorate training at a chiropractic educational institute, students obtain extensive schooling in the process of taking x-rays and reading and evaluating radiographs. Most people know that an x-ray tech must undergo a rigorous course of study to learn their profession. In a chiropractic college, students are required to obtain a similar degree of tutelage. In fact, at the National College of Chiropractic, the school that I attended, we were trained by certified x-ray physicists and technicians. Upon learning the skill of taking x-rays, chiropractic students then must learn to read and interpret x-ray images.
Chiropractic students have numerous courses of x-ray interpretation which include conditions such as bone fractures and dislocations and pathologies such as cancer, infection and arthritis. Chiropractic scholarship also focuses on biomechanics, which is simply evaluating images for segmental malpositions and misalignments, postural distortions, scoliosis, ligamentous instabilities, etc. Leading scientific research journals have confirmed competency of chiropractors in reading and interpreting spinal x-rays.
The decision to take x-rays on a patient is a clinical call by the chiropractor. This decision is a combination of complaint, history and examination findings.
A research study at the National College of Chiropractic showed the results of a review of all radiographic examinations performed during the 1982 calendar year. The authors of the article stated: “The use of plain film radiography has long been a staple of the chiropractic profession. Radiographic examinations are a valuable tool in the chiropractor’s diagnosis of the patient’s condition.”
There are many benefits for both the chiropractor and the patient to having spinal x-rays to assist in the analysis, diagnosis and treatment of spinal symptoms.