Clients often ask questions related to x-rays, pain, and arthritis. It seems that a lot of them believe that going in for an X-ray is the first thing a doctor should have them do. They’re usually convinced that they have arthritis and everyone knows that the only way to diagnose arthritis is by getting an X-ray, right? And the next thing they want to know is whether they should immediately stop exercising and playing sports and if they should take it easy for a while.
Not so fast! There are a few important considerations before we jump to the conclusion that an X-ray is necessary and that the culprit is arthritis.
What is the Purpose of An X-Ray?
First, let’s understand the purpose of having X-rays done. Generally speaking, an X-ray is a test which determines whether you have a fracture or break in a bone. A small fracture is often difficult to see and may require further tests, such as scans to determine whether a stress or hairline fracture is present.
If you’ve recently suffered trauma or a fall, then it’s important to have x-rays done to determine whether you have damage to your bones or joints. Even a small slip and fall from several months previously may be causing you pain now.
Can X-Rays Diagnose Arthritis?
Doctors will often use x-rays to rule out arthritis. Unfortunately, arthritis affects many people. Over 92% of people have no symptoms of joint pain, meaning they don’t even realize they have arthritis! Yet, when an x-ray confirms a diagnosis of arthritis, patients become nervous and fearful.
An x-ray will do nothing for your pain except make you hesitant to continue your daily activities. Whether it’s exercising, lifting weights, or playing sports, studies in neuroplasticity and pain science have determined that a diagnosis of arthritis causes patients to cease many physical activities.
In reality, arthritis is difficult to diagnose with an x-ray. Studies have concluded that doctors couldn’t predict if people who were diagnosed with arthritis based on their X-rays, were actually suffering from pain caused by arthritis or if there was another, underlying cause. In many cases, the pain is muscular which can be corrected with neuro-corrective retraining exercises.
It’s important to have an X-ray, if:
X-rays are overused, and in many cases cause unnecessary worry which then leads to a fear of movement. As your activity level is reduced, pain increases due to muscle stiffness. An example of this is the condition known as frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition which limits your arm’s range of motion and causes pain during movement. The pain causes the patient to limit his or her movements, which then leads to stiffness and eventually the shoulder becomes “frozen”. That’s why patients with shoulder pain are encouraged to remain active and use their arm, within reason, to help prevent this near-total immobility of the joint.
That’s why it’s important to reserve judgment and not assume that your pain is caused by arthritis. Many times, it’s muscular and these imbalances can be effectively treated with neuro-corrective retraining exercises. If physiotherapy or trigger point injections don’t improve the condition, then X-rays are indicated.
If you need any more help you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on what you can do about your pain.