What Type of Imaging is Best for Me?

After your initial evaluation in our office, your chiropractor may order imaging to help them see what is going on inside your body and determine a diagnosis and the best course of treatment. There are many different types of imaging. Let’s go over a few of the common ones we may use for our patients.


X-rays are generally used as a starting point because they are quick, easy, inexpensive, and can be done right in our office. An X-ray involves radioactive waves passing through the body that only capture hard tissue, such as bones. The X-ray machine then transfers the result to an image that can be studied and understood. X-rays do have limitations. While X-rays can be a good starting point and are great for viewing the alignment of your bones, sometimes additional information is needed that you cannot get from an X-ray, like any soft tissue problems.

An MRI or CT scan are possible options that can give more information to your doctor if they suspect a soft tissue problem that can’t be seen on an X-ray. Examples of these would be a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder, torn cartilage or ligaments in the knee, or other joints, among other problems. We do not have these machines in the office but our doctors can guide you to a facility we trust that can help!

Computerized Tomography (CT):
A CT scan is a more sensitive version of an x-ray. It uses additional software to create 3D images of internal organs, soft tissue, and blood vessels surrounding the bones. CT scans most commonly identify infectious diseases, cancers, or musculoskeletal disorders.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):
MRIs are different from X-rays and CT scans in that they use different waves to achieve the image they are looking for. An MRI uses a mixture of magnetic fields and radio waves to create a detailed image of the organs and soft tissue.  MRIs create a vivid image of the shape and state of the spinal cord and are used for many reasons. Most commonly, chiropractors use this imaging to find abnormalities in the spine and the tissues surrounding joints and to properly diagnose spinal disorders.  An MRI can show injuries or conditions that neither X-rays nor CT scans show. The difference between X-ray and MRI images has been described as the difference between watching TV in black and white versus in color.

Speak to your doctor if you have any questions about the type of imaging, they are requesting for you. They will guide you through everything and make sure you are comfortable with every step along the way.



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