If you find yourself at a practice where their policy is that every new patient gets x-rays, do yourself a favor, turn around and leave.
This approach is what we in the profession refer to as “scare-care” — and it contributes heavily to the negative stereotypes associated with chiropractors.
There are specific times when ordering x-rays is indicated. Outside of these scenarios, the doctor has to be looking for something specific… before they order the x-rays. Without a specific working diagnosis, it is little more than a fishing expedition to find something to justify care.
What will commonly occur is something along these lines:
- You have back pain/neck pain
- You get referred for x-rays
- The x-rays come back essentially negative but with degenerative changes — and then you get a sales pitch about how you’ve been neglecting your spine and if you don’t start getting adjusted regularly, you will one day end up in a wheelchair.
That sounds pretty serious, and when most people are in the midst of a painful episode, they are ready to agree to almost anything for relief.
At a vulnerable time, in the presence of bad looking x-rays and at a doctor’s recommendation; patients are easily scared into paying for treatment that realistically should cost a quarter of what they will be charged.
Please don’t allow this to happen to your friends or family.
X-rays are only indicated under certain conditions or after a trial of care has failed. The American Board of Internal Medicine outlines the specific times in this brief article where they also explain why rushing for imaging is not a good idea.