In 1895, William Roentgen discovered the use of X-ray as he stumbled upon cathode instruments. He first used X-rays on his wife’s hands when he became curious of what they would look like when the rays pass through them. This led to the use of X-rays for diagnostic imaging purposes and now they can be found just about everywhere, including in your local Land O Lakes chiropractor’s office.
X-rays are used mainly for medical imaging, but other settings also use X-rays such as in the airport for looking into luggage. In medicine, X-rays become an important way of looking into tissues and bones to detect problems. It is commonly used for skeletal disorders and it is the first line of diagnosis for orthopedics conditions. While X-rays are widely used for this purpose, some question its safety for humans.
The question as to whether X-rays are dangerous comes from the fact that X-rays emit radiation. This radiation can be harmful for humans especially when used frequently and in high amounts of exposure.
Frequent exposure to radiation is seen to cause gene mutilation that may possibly lead to malignancies, cell aberrations, tissue degeneration and the like. These are seen in those exposed to radiation related to nuclear power plants. However, these are not seen in X-rays as supported by several studies.
The use of X-rays for medical imaging only emits minimal amount of radiation. This amount is very small as compared to radiation exposures that can lead to physiologic problems. In fact, X-rays may not even damage even a single cell in the body because of the low concentration of radiation it emits. Moreover, X-rays are only done infrequently and commonly employed to diagnose and evaluate conditions and are not done on a daily basis on a single person.
X-rays in Children and Pregnant Women
While X-rays are generally safe for all people, there are certain considerations for its use. For instance, extreme precaution should be used when using X-rays for pregnant women. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may cause problems in the fetus, which may adversely affect pregnancy outcomes as well. While there were no reported incidences of adverse pregnancy outcomes when using X-rays for medical imaging in pregnant women, doctors should still determine whether a patient is pregnant or not to employ precautions.
In children, their cells divide rapidly for growth and development. Exposure to X-rays may lead to alterations in cellular division, which may affect growth. In this line, children should be exposed to only minimal amounts of radiation possible.
If you are pregnant or your child needs to undergo X-ray, you must talk to your doctor on employing safety measures before the procedure.
Overall Safety of X-rays
Since X-rays are generally safe, there should be no concerns regarding undergoing X-ray especially if this is the way to diagnose your condition. Chiropractors also employ X-ray imaging to detect problems in the musculoskeletal system to employ the most appropriate treatment.
If you are in doubt about the safety of your X-ray exposure, it is better to talk to your health care provider regarding your concerns to be informed better before the procedure.