New Research on the Safety & Efficacy of X-rays in Chiropractic

Research News Staff
New Research on the Safety & Efficacy of X-rays in Chiropractic

Guidelines That Restrict X-Rays Put Patient Safety & Health at Risk 

Recent research reporting on the importance of x-rays in the chiropractic management of patients shows that chiropractic care aimed at the realignment of the structure of the spine can address a wide range of pain, muscle weakness, and functional impairments. The research, reported in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, includes a review of the literature on the safety and effectiveness the use of x-rays in managing health outcomes related to chiropractic care.

CLICK HERE to review the study

“Many people are afraid of having x-rays taken and insurance companies and the doctors they hire to cut claims stoke this unfounded fear for their own profit” stated Matthew McCoy DC, MPH, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study.

McCoy continued “Making matters worse is a dangerous movement by an unscientific fringe group within the chiropractic profession to stop chiropractors from taking necessary x-rays under the guise of evidence based practice.” 

But according to the experts who don’t benefit from insurance company money, x-ray examination is currently the only objective means of determining the relative positions of the vertebrae in a potentially unstable spine.  Injury, degeneration and many factors related to daily life effect the spine and can cause structural spinal shifts and these structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct. 

These types of very serious spinal problems cannot be determined by a physical examination or by feeling the person’s back any more than a dentist can feel someone’s cheeks or gums and determine if they have cavities – you have to have an x-ray to see it.  By analyzing patients spines with x-rays, doctors have objective parameters to properly diagnose, evaluate, refer to the appropriate specialist or obtain further diagnostic imaging, if necessary, for patients that have these types of problems. 

According to the authors of the study alternate methods to assess such spine problems are often indirect and do not reveal the root cause of patient problems and could result in a significant misdiagnosis, leading to inappropriate care and harmful consequences for the patient. 

Radiography reveals the true condition and alignment of the spine and eliminates guesswork. Contemporary approaches to chiropractic care, guided by accurate imaging, have demonstrated superiority over more primitive evaluations. The problem unfortunately, according to the researchers, is that there are well-meaning but misguided activists who advocate elimination spine x-rays despite the fact that the radiation dose employed for an x-ray is very low, about 100 times below the threshold dose for harmful effects. 

The researchers advise that chiropractic care guidelines need to be revised to reflect the potential benefits of modern treatments and the lack of health risks from low X-ray doses.

Contact Information: 

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH
Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research
McCoy Press