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Chiropractic Care and X-Ray Technology

Chiropractic Care and X-Ray Technology

While chiropractic care is considered a conservative treatment method, that doesn’t mean we don’t use diagnostic testing. In fact, even the earliest chiropractors have been using the most advanced available options in technology to help diagnose and treat patients. Even today, the chiropractors of BC + PT may need to order an x-ray or MRI to obtain a better understanding of what's going on inside the body, in order to determine the best treatment options.

A Brief History of Chiropractic Care

The birth of Chiropractic, known and taught today can be attributed to Daniel David Palmer in 1895. ( Check out this blog to get a little more information about the first adjustment!) Eventually D.D. Palmer created the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897. It was from this point that Dr. Palmer and others continued to refine their techniques of chiropractic care and study how manual manipulation can relieve pain and improve function.

A Brief History of X-Ray Technology

X-Ray Technology was also discovered around the same time as Chiropractic. In fact, the technology behind the X-ray machine was discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen, quite a year for medical advancements! There were many people, including Marie Curie, who contributed to the early development of x-ray. However, there were still so many unknowns about the use of x-ray and the serious side effects of ionizing radiation. Over the years, advancements in technology and safety protocols have helped reduce the exposure to radiation.

Some early medical practitioners did not value radiology or the study of x-rays as a legitimate practice. However, by the early 20th century, some medical doctors were beginning to see clinical value with the use of x-ray. Unfortunately, during the time between 1910s and 1920s in the medical field, there was a debate as to whether the study of radiology should be practiced by doctors or as a technical tool more suited to the technician, not the physician who utilized it. This debate made the road to learning, accepting, and practicing radiology all the more complicated.

X-ray Tech Concerns

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that is able to penetrate opaque or solid objects. There was a lot of enthusiasm over these newly discovered x-rays, which led to an underestimation of the serious side effects in the early years. X-rays were used generously, resulting in serious eye and skin damage, as well as an uptick in cases of Leukemia were being reported as early as 1896. It took until 1915 for the early adopters of x-ray to advocate for safety protocols to reduce the exposure of x-ray for both patients and practitioners.

When Two Worlds Collide - Chiropractors and X-Ray Technology

Dr. D. D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic care, the creator of the first chiropractic school in America, did not approve of x- ray technology. In fact he firmly believed that chiropractic care was NOT to be performed with tools, no fancy e-stim, no drugs, no microscopes, and that adjustments were done by hand and only by hand. Until his death in 1913, he was adamant about this, and many of his students were as well, from 1895 to 1910. It was only in 1910 that D.D. Palmer’s own son, Dr. B J Palmer, who really adopted the use of x-ray technology for chiropractic care - even claiming to be the first chiropractor to use x-ray imaging.

BJ theorized that since this new technology allowed one to see the bones within the body, that subluxations (a slight misalignment of the vertebrae, regarded in chiropractic theory as the cause of many health problems,) could be proved, legitimizing the core theory of chiropractic. In fact, this claim actually seemed to really convince people that his claims about subluxations were true.

After BJ Palmer introduced x-rays to the chiropractic profession, the idea of chiropractic care, along with using x-ray imaging to show subluxations, took the world by storm. Pictured above is an advertisement in the Ogden Standard, 1917.
After BJ Palmer introduced x-rays to the chiropractic profession, the idea of chiropractic care, along with using x-ray imaging to show subluxations, took the world by storm. Pictured above is an advertisement in the Ogden Standard, 1917.

Chiropractic Care and X-Rays Today

Chiropractors today still use x-ray technology. At BC + PT our chiropractors (and physical therapists!) utilize x-rays, as well as other diagnostic testing such as CT scans, MRI’s or EMG’s to make informed decisions and treat each patient accordingly. If you have been experiencing pain in your neck, back, or spine, then it is time to give BC + PT a call and see what one of our trained, knowledgeable and experienced chiropractors can do for you!


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