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X-rays………………do you need one?

July 23, 2013

This is a common question I get asked a lot in clinic; sometimes it is ‘demanded’. These patients are usually under the impression that by having an X-ray their symptoms will suddenly disappear!

Unfortunately, X-rays are only used to look for problems in joints that are not clear or understood from the description of symptoms as explained by the patient. Thus the better and concise you are in explaining your problems the better the possible treatment outcome will be. Unnecessary exposure to radiation (that is what X-rays are) can be potentially harmful and as it is not known how many you will ever require in your lifetime, therefore the fewer you have the less your chances of contracting a ‘nasty’ which may be caused by radiation exposure later on.

If arthritis or any other form of degenerative condition in a joint has been diagnosed, an X-ray will not reduce the pain caused by the condition and the clinician does not need to get an x-ray to see how bad it is! There are some exceptions to this but these circumstances are rare and the clinician is skilled enough to make that clinical judgement and weigh up the pros and cons of the request. So I say ease off on the requests and concentrate on telling your side of the story; that is to say how to explain your symptoms without getting tongue-tied or worst still embarrassed. Remember we will in all probability, heard it, seen it and dealt with it before!

Rant of the day……………! It was good to get this off my chest!!!!!!!

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