Chiropractors are sought by patients for relief of neck and lower back pain. When a patient initially sees me for chiropractic care, I can take a spinal X-ray of their area of complaint. This article will discuss the history of how chiropractic and X-rays are related and the importance of X-rays in diagnosis and treatment for spinal pain relief.
There is historical evidence that forms of manipulation have been used for spinal pain for over 5000 years. The modern field of spinal manipulation began in the US in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer first began treating patients with spinal adjustments for misalignment. Dr. Palmer soon realized how chiropractor care could benefit people suffering from back and neck pain and started a school to train future chiropractors that became the Palmer College of Chiropractic.
Interestingly, even in 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen is credited with developing the first use of X-rays. In 1901, Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery. The relationship between X-rays and chiropractic continues to this day.
While attending five years of doctoral training at a chiropractor educational institution, students receive extensive schooling in the process of taking X-rays and reading and evaluating radiographs. Most people know that an X-ray technique must undergo a rigorous course of study to learn their profession. In a chiropractor college, students are required to obtain the same degree. In fact, at the National College of Chiropractic, the school I attended, we were trained by certified X-ray physicists and technicians. X-rays, chiropractic students must learn to read and interpret X-ray images when they learn the skill of taking them.
Chiropractic students have several courses of X-ray interpretation including bone fractures and dislocations and diseases such as cancer, infection and arthritis. Chiropractic scholarship also focuses on biomechanics, which is simply evaluating images for segmental malfunction and misalignment, postural malformations, scoliosis, ligamentous instability, and more. Major scientific research journals have confirmed the ability of chiropractors to read and interpret x-rays of the spine.
The decision to take an X-ray on a patient is a diagnostic 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 results reviewing all radiographic examinations conducted 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 an important tool of chiropractic in the diagnosis of a patient’s condition.”
Having a Spiro X-ray to aid in the analysis, diagnosis and treatment of spinal symptoms has many benefits for both the chiropractor and the patient.