xray clinic

The Truth About X-Rays

The Truth About X-Rays:

X-Ray is a common diagnostic test used in medical practice.   However, after many conversations with patients over the years practicing medicine, it is clear that there are a few commonly held misunderstandings about X-Rays that I will discuss today.  Hopefully this article will provide you with an understanding of when X-rays can be useful and how we at Complete Health can provide this service for you.  Our Nashville urgent care and walk-in clinic has onsite X-Ray services available everyday for your convenience.  

X-ray is the most common form of medical imaging used today.  It is used in physician offices, urgent cares, and hospitals around the globe.  X-Rays are generated by emitting a small amount of radiation from a source and measuring the amount of radiation that passes through the body part of interest. At Complete Health, this is done with state-of-the-art digital X-Ray.  We are able to view your images within seconds allowing us to promptly evaluate injuries and illnesses.

There are several facts about X-ray physicians consider when ordering a test:


FACT #1:  X-Ray is very safe…  

From young to old, the amount of radiation administered is small.  Obviously we want to be aware and considerate for people who may require repeat or recurrent imaging, but for isolated injuries or illness, that small amount of radiation that X-ray requires is very low.  When compared to other medical imaging, X-rays are only a very small fraction of radiation and provide a lot of high yield information for your medical provider. At Complete Health, our Sports Medicine, Urgent Care, and Primary Care providers will make sure that we appropriately and safely use X-ray to help aid in diagnosing your illness or injury.

FACT #2:  X-ray cannot show ligaments or cartilage…  

X ray is a really good first step/tool at evaluating numerous illnesses and injuries, but it does have its limitations.   X-ray is very good at assessing for the following:

  • Bones
    • Broken bones
    • Arthritis- Shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles,  feet, neck and back
    • Alignment/dislocation- Spine/back and joints
    • Infection
  • Chest
    • Lung infections: pneumonia, bronchitis and others
    • Pneumothorax (dropped/collapsed lungs)
    • Heart: congestive heart failure
    • Ribs: dislocations or fractures
  • Abdomen
    • Bowel obstruction/blockage
    • Constipation
    • Signs of severe ulcerations or other bowel injuries
    • Kidney stones

Unfortunately, X-Ray is not able to see things like muscles, tendons, disks, or nerves.   Based on just X-Ray alone, you can not make a diagnosis like tendonitis, sprains, strains, bulgings disks or nerve impingement.   Some of these diagnoses require more advanced imaging. However, skilled physicians (like our Board Certified primary care, sports medicine, and urgent care doctors) can often diagnose you based on X-ray findings coupled with your clinical exam.   This is where the value of a highly trained, Board Certified provider performing a through history and physical exam helps the most. Our physicians at Complete Health can help take you through the process of taking your symptoms, history and diagnostic findings.

FACT #3:  X-ray can be used for procedures…

X-ray is not just a tool for diagnostic imaging.  It is also a very effective tool to use in many common medical procedures.  Particularly, at Complete Health, our Sports Medicine and Urgent Care physicians can use X-Ray to help reduce dislocations and fractures.  By creating the best possible anatomic alignment, we can make sure that your fracture or dislocation has the best chance to heal.  This will get you back to work (or play!) as soon as possible.   Today, many fractures that previously required surgery can be treated with immobilization (splinting and casting) instead, provided that optimal alignment and appropriate care is taken at the onset of the injury. Having a provider like Complete Health utilizing advanced techniques like this can help get you on the road to recovery faster, with less pain, and better function afterward.

So now you know the truth about X-Ray imaging.  We would love the chance to serve you at Complete Health for all your imaging needs.  Because we know accidents and injuries happen 7 days a week, our West Nashville walk-in clinic is open everyday.   Our providers can answer all your questions and concerns. We can even show you your imaging and explain our thought process when evaluating your X-Ray.   We believe that we must work together with our patients as a team to provide the best possible care that is individualized specifically to your needs.

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