X-Ray or No X-Ray: The New Patient Dilemma

X-Ray or No X-Ray: The New Patient Dilemma

by | May 28, 2024

When a new patient walks into your chiropractic office, seeking relief from back pain, neck stiffness, or headaches, you want to create a personalized treatment plan as quickly and effectively as possible. X-rays can be a valuable tool, offering a clear picture of your patient’s spine. But are they always necessary?

Let’s talk about a hot topic that’s been buzzing around our community: Should new patients be required to take X-rays, or should we take X-rays on all our patients?

Well, my friends, I stand firmly on the side of saying a resounding YES. And let me tell you, there are numerous reasons why taking X-rays is absolutely essential for delivering the best care to our patients.

First and foremost, taking X-rays allows us to be incredibly precise in our approach. As chiropractors, we have a keen sense of touch and a well-trained pair of hands that can detect subluxations and restricted areas of the spine through palpation. However, when we combine our tactile skills with the visual insights provided by X-ray images, the level of certainty reaches new heights. Gone are the days of uncertainty and guesswork; we can now be exact in how we approach our patients’ chiropractic adjustments and create tailored care plans to address their specific issues.

But that’s not all. Consider the aspect of liability. While it may be a very small percentage, there’s always a chance that a particular area of the spine may not be suitable for adjustment. Throughout my career, I’ve come across cases that highlighted the importance of X-rays in diagnosing such issues. One particular instance involved a woman with a C1, C2 instability due to a dens fracture caused by a severe whiplash incident. The X-rays revealed a noticeable crack at the top of her C2 vertebrae, which poses a significant risk of spinal cord injury if adjusted aggressively. By catching this issue, I referred her to a neurosurgeon, who later performed surgery to stabilize the area. Months later, she reached out to express her gratitude, mentioning that my diligence had potentially saved her from a future traumatic event that could have resulted in paralysis.

Additionally, X-rays can help us identify cases of cancer or conditions like osteoporosis. When cancer is advanced and presents on spinal X-rays, our role as chiropractors is to prioritize directing the patient to oncologists for the more critical cancer treatment. In cases of severe osteoporosis, adjusting certain areas of the spine may not be advisable, and implementing gentle techniques or using instruments can help prevent any unintended fractures or injuries.

You see, the potential areas of liability are vast. By taking X-rays, we not only protect our patients’ well-being but also safeguard our own practices. It’s an integral part of being a responsible provider, ensuring that we make informed decisions for the benefit of those who entrust their health to us.

Let’s draw a parallel here: when you visit a dentist, do they just examine the specific tooth causing discomfort, or do they take X-rays of your entire mouth? You guessed it right – the latter. Dentists want a comprehensive view of all your teeth to detect cavities, identify problems, and implement proactive measures for the future. Similarly, in my practice, we don’t just take X-rays of the area where a patient is experiencing pain; we capture images of their entire spine. This thoroughness allows us to offer full spine adjustments, which most patients prefer and benefit from. By seeing all parts of the spine, we can assess the whole picture and create a more effective care plan.

dental xray

Now, let’s address that point of contention – the debate surrounding X-ray use in our profession. Approximately half of the chiropractors out there don’t take X-rays; they rely solely on physical examination and observation. And while this approach may work for the majority of patients, in my humble opinion and based on my own experiences, it falls short in terms of thoroughness and precision. The other half of our profession, those of us who do take X-rays, are doing the right thing. We are prioritizing safety, clinical precision, and ultimately, the well-being of our patients.

Let’s continue to advocate for the responsible use of X-rays in our practices. By doing so, we ensure the safest and most effective care for our patients, leaving no room for doubts or blind spots.

If you’re ready to elevate your chiropractic practice to new heights and want to discuss how X-rays can enhance your approaches, I invite you to schedule a call with me. CLICK HERE and together, we’ll share insights, exchange stories, and inspire one another on this incredible journey towards success and fulfillment.

Remember when it comes to providing outstanding chiropractic care, let’s always embrace the power of precision, empathy, and providing the safest care possible.

Podcast Link: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/dr-john-lee/episodes/The-Alpha-Omega-Biz-Dev-Podcast-11-5-Essential-Parts-of-a-Chiropractic-Business-for-Long-Term-Success-e2k5vph