by Dr. Jared Plemon
Every once in a while someone will say “My brother/husband/friend/neighbor wants to come and see you but doesn’t want to have x-rays.” This person will either choose not to see a chiropractor period, or see someone who chooses to see patients without x-rays.
The concern with being exposed to the radiation that goes along with x-ray imaging is understandable. Radiation increases your risk of cancer, right?
It can, but only in the right dose. In fact, did you know that radiation is a naturally occurring phenomenon? It’s true. Radiation is all around us. Smoking cigarettes emits radiation. Humans emit radiation! Yet I haven’t found “huggers” to be more prone to cancer.
The largest source of radiation we are exposed to comes from nature. The average human is exposed to 3,000 microsieverts (a unit that measures radiation) from gases in the soil, cosmic radiation, and sunlight. The exposure increases at higher elevation, as well.
For example, people living in the mountains or spending a lot of time on a plane are exposed to more radiation. One estimate shows that 30 hours of flying is the equivalent of having a chest x-ray. That’s not even a full work week for a typical pilot or flight attendant. That means your average pilot has the equivalent of 6 or more x-rays per month because of naturally occurring radiation. They aren’t dropping like flies from cancer, are they?
Besides, when it comes back to diagnostic x-ray, the type of imaging is very important. The imaging we use in the chiropractic profession is called plain film imagining, which uses a much lower dose of radiation versus computed topography (CT or CAT scans). One CT scan of the abdomen has the same dose of radiation as having over 100 standard x-rays! So you could have two x-rays per week in our office for an entire year and that wouldn’t even equal one CAT scan.
The benefits of having x-rays in most cases outweigh the risks, especially when you consider what can happen when your chiropractor (or osteopath or physical therapist) tries moving around your spinal bones while flying blind.
Case in point