X-Ray, MRI, Ultrasound and DXA Scan Referral
Most of the time we will be able to tell you what is wrong and explain the treatment you require based on the history of your problem and a physical examination. However, sometimes further tests are a good idea and we have various options at our disposal.
The type of investigation you might need will depend on what complaint is suspected.
A form of imaging that is widely known and utilised, x-rays are used to produce images of the inside of the body in a safe and painless way.
In a hospital x-rays are often used to check for fractures and breaks in bones but they can also be useful to chiropractors when checking for other problems too.
X-rays may show degenerative changes (wear and tear) as an underlying cause to your problem. Disc or joint degeneration of the spine are common reasons why you might also have back or neck pain, and these tend to happen as we get older.
If you have degenerative changes it does not mean that you can’t feel better or even get rid of the pain completely, but it might mean the pain you are feeling proves to be a bit more stubborn or recurrent.
X-rays may also be used to evaluate the spine for scoliosis (curvature of the spine), significant trauma or check for a suspected spondylolisthesis (spillage of the vertebrae) or other types of instability, amongst other issues.
Having an accurate diagnosis always improves decision-making regarding the treatment plan and this is why x-rays can sometimes be helpful and they can be easily arranged. However, our chiropractors do not routinely send our patients for x-rays and will only do so if they feel there is real value in doing so.
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Strong magnetic fields are used during an MRI scan to create images of a part of the body. An MRI differs from x-rays in that it is able to show soft tissues as well as bones.
This is very useful if you are suffering with a suspected disc problem, sometimes called a slipped disc but more accurately known as a disc bulge, herniation, protrusion or prolapse. A disc problem like this can put pressure on a nerve (resulting in a trapped nerve), which can give rise to severe pain in your back or neck and also down into the arm or leg. It can also cause numbness, tingling and weakness.
MRI scans can also be used to assess other types of problems such as those affecting the shoulders or knees and other joints and muscles of the body. Being able to see the problem from the inside gives a much clearer idea of what treatment would be best and, importantly, whether or not we will be able to help you.
Should you require an MRI scan we will make the necessary arrangements whether privately or through the NHS.
Having an ultrasound scan normally requires you to lie down as a water-based gel is applied to the skin over the region being scanned. Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create an image of structures inside the body.
The images are projected on-screen in real time so the clinician carrying out the scan can look from various angles as they search for the problem.
We may refer you for an ultrasound if they suspect there is a severe injury to a muscle, tendon or ligament, perhaps as a result of a sporting injury.
Having a DXA scan is an accurate way of measuring your bone density. DXA stands for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and during a scan a low dose of x-rays are aimed at a bone in order to calculate the mineral content. This measurement is then compared to people of a similar age, weight, sex and ethnic background.
You might benefit from having a DXA scan if you are suspected of having osteoporosis or another condition that causes bone loss or weakening. Detecting bone loss early may allow further loss to be limited or even prevented and it will also highlight any risk of fracture.
Having a DXA scan is quick and easy to arrange and the process of having one takes about 30 minutes.