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X-rays: Is seeing the only way to know?

Posted by Dr. Brett K. Doctor of ChiropractyHealth Maven

There are so many myths about chiropractors I have a hard time finding a starting point.  Let’s address one of the more harmful myths in today’s column: x-rays.  I recently heard the proposition that “a thorough chiropractor is one who takes x-rays on every patient before he touches them.”  I actually hear some variation of this quite a bit from new patients.

It is simply not true.  The chiropractor who x-rays every patient is no more helpful than the medical doctor who gives every patient an antibiotic.

A thorough chiropractor is one who takes a complete medical history, carefully examines the patient and formulates a logical diagnosis and treatment plan.  As part of the work-up, the patientmay require diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or an MRI.  Patients in certain profiles, with specific medical problems or history of certain types of trauma absolutely require x-rays.  X-rays are used to rule out some types of medical problems, congenital conditions and deformities.

Routine x-rays of all new patients is not a thorough practice – it is criminal, a waste of money, time and needless exposure to radiation. 

You certainly may need x-rays…but if you come across a chiropractor whose practice is to x-ray all patients, you are probably in the wrong office.


Dr. Brett Kinsler is a chiropractor in Rochester, NY who does not routinely x-ray his patients - even if they ask really, really nicely….only if they need it.

Answers (1)
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From just another point of view having worked in a chiropractic office for three years, I think each new patient should have recent xrays before being adjusted.  We often looked at recent xrays from other doctors or would do them for free in a consultation.  Our thought on the subject you need to make sure there is no underlying problem that could cause chiropractic to contraindicated.  Since you can't see the spine from the outside, you never know what you may find on a xray.  We had patients that after we did their xrays, we referred them to other providers based on findings.  I personally feel it is a better safe than sorry situation.  But as with ANY profession, you will have drs who abuse the system and drs who don't, you will find good mechanics and ones that rip you off.  Good server when out to eat or bad.

I do not disagree completely, but when I was adjusted, I didn't want him going in blind the first time.

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