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  • Writer's pictureAshwood Chiropractic

X-Rays and other medical imaging, when are they appropriate?

X-Rays, MRI, CT Scans, Ultrasound, whats the difference?


These are probably the most well known type of medical imaging. X-Rays are primarily used to view the skeleton but they have far more uses that that. X-Rays are also used during Mammography when assessing the breast tissue for any cancerous cells. CT Scans also use X-Rays but we will discuss CT Scans in a separate segment.

Why would my Chiropractor send me for an X-Ray?

As X-Rays use ionising radiation (radiation that increases your risk of developing cancer) we really try to avoid sending our patients for unnecessary X-Rays, your Chiropractor should only send you for an X-Ray to investigate:

  • Trauma (fractures)

  • Spondyloarthropathy (a group of degenerative diseases that affect bones and joints)

  • Or to track the progression of a scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine)

  • Possible deformities or Anatomical variants


MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

These are long tubes which contain very powerful magnets, they use these magnets to build an image of your body from the inside.

They do not use X-Rays so can be considered safer than X-Rays or CT scans when it comes to risk of developing cancer later on in life.

MRI is often considered the gold standard for medical imaging excellent for viewing the bodies hard and soft structures from bone right the way down to the air-spaces within your lungs.

Why would my Chiropractor send me for an MRI?

Your chiropractor would send you for an MRI to:

  • Investigate potential cancer

  • Infection

  • Spinal Stenosis (Narrowing of the spinal canal)

  • Assess the need for potential surgical management in a radiculopathy (compression of a nerve root i.e. from a herniated disc).

Ultrasound Scans

Ultrasound scans are probably best known as the scans used to view and monitor the fetus during pregnancy.

However this technology can also be used to aid in the diagnosis of potential musculoskeletal problems.

Why would my Chiropractor send me for an Ultrasound Scan?

Your chiropractor would send you for an ultrasound scan to aid in the diagnosis of:

  • Tendinopathy

  • Bursitis

  • Muscle Tears

  • Ligament Sprains/Tears

  • Calcium Deposits in Tendons

  • Impingement syndromes

  • Cysts

  • Nerve entrapment

  • Foreign bodies (splinters)

CT Scans

A CT Scanners is a special kind of X-Ray machine produce a 3D image of the inside of your body. They can also be used to:

  • Assess Internal Organs

  • Assess Bones in greater detail than standard X-Rays

  • Determine the severity of injuries obtained in a road traffic collision

Why would my chiropractor send me for a CT Scan?

It is very unlikely that your chiropractor will send you for a CT scan. They are more likely to refer you back to your GP or straight to A&E if it is necessary.

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