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The X-ray Selfie

X-ray selfie

X-ray selfie

Let me start by saying that X-rays can be a necessary addition to an assessment. I have referred to it as the “static selfie” before. It is a static, one snapshot picture of your body. This blog is not meant to scare you from ever receiving an x-ray, but to know when an x-ray may be needed, and when an x-ray may not be needed. As always, consult with your doctor prior to making any of these decisions on your own.

What is an X-ray?

According to, an x-ray is an “imaging that creates a picture of the inside of your body. Images shows parts of your body in different shades of black and white”. X-ray is a simple way of saying electromagnetic radiation. With each x-ray there is a small amount of radiation that enters your body. Depending on density, different parts of your body absorb or reflect different amount of radiation, creating an image.

How much radiation enters the body?

The answer to this is not as simple as it looks initially. The amount of radiation will depend on the type of x-ray. We have a certain level of radiation occurring as background radiation. This is caused by both human creations and natural environmental factors. Naturally occurring radiation includes ultraviolet radiation that would come from the sun. Human creations may be in the form of microwaves, as well as radiation emitted from phones and cell phone towers. Keep that in mind when reviewing the chart below.

  • Chest X-ray:
    Equivalent to 2.4 days of natural background radiation
  • Skull X-ray:
    Equivalent to 12 days of natural background radiation
  • Lumbar spine:
    Equivalent to 182 days of natural background radiation
  • IV urogram:
    Equivalent to 1 year of natural background radiation
  • Upper gastrointestinal exam:
    Equivalent to 2 years of natural background radiation
  • Barium enema:
    Equivalent to 2.7 years of natural background radiation
  • CT head:
    Equivalent to 243 days of natural background radiation
  • CT abdomen:
    Equivalent to 2.7 years of natural background radiation.

When are X-rays warranted?

What I explain below is not a list of all the reasons an x-ray is warranted. Do not take this as “my symptom and injury are not on the list so I should not have an x-ray”.

Conditions that may call for an X-ray:

  • Possibility of cancer, tumors
  • Types of breathing issues
  • Digestive problems
  • Fractures
  • Infections
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

Ask your Doctor why?

As I said before, I am not against x-rays. I do, however, condone overexposure of x-rays. X-rays performed when necessary rarely have additional health risk. Ask your doctor why you are receiving an x-ray. Do your research.

My thoughts.

X-rays are static selfies. When you take a selfie, it can change depending on different angles and orientations. With some conditions, an x-ray is warranted. I personally do not take X-ray at my office. Why is that? If I think it is something that warrants an X-ray, I will send the patient out to make sure everything is okay to perform a chiropractic adjustment.

I determine if my patients’ health has improved by many evidence- based techniques. First of all, you know if you feel better. Does your pain decrease with activity? Do you sleep better? Can you now bend down and touch your toes? I have been trained for 8 years in my palpation skills. Through testing and retesting restrictions and muscle tension, I can determine your next step of your care plan.

The biggest takeaway! ASK WHY! It is okay to ask your doctor why. It is your body and your decisions. The doctor should be able to back up ever treatment by research. I have at least one article I can provide you that backs up treatment.

Until next time. Let’s move forward together,

Dr. Daniel Eichner DC, LAT, ATC


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