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Spinal X-Rays

Want to see what your back or neck looks like? Just ask us! Usually we do not require x-rays before starting care but sometimes it is just nice to take a look at your spine and how life has been treating your vertebrae.

X-Rays are taken by chiropractors to visualize the specific condition of your spine and to rule out more serious issues. While they are not necessary for care, they do help with diagnosing and treating spinal problems and can be used by Dr. Dennis to get a clearer understanding of your case.

The x-rays below are not all from the same person. They show a progression from a normal x-ray with no degeneration to a neck x-ray with advanced degeneration and eventually surgical fusion.

A Normal Neck X-Ray 

Our first x-ray to look at is a NORMAL neck film taken from the side. There is nothing wrong with this spine as far as spinal degeneration is concerned. There is a largely incidental finding called an “arcuate foramen” formed by calcification of some ligaments behind the uppermost vertebrae, but that’s not a sign of degeneration. Some things to note include:

Nearly square-shaped vertebral bodies

The spaces between the spinal bones are consistent and not decreased, indicating healthy spinal discs

Each bone is part of a continuous arc – no vertebrae is “out of line” with the one above or below

There are no brighter, whitened sections of bone, which indicate osteoarthritis and degeneration

There is no abnormal bone outgrowth – called “lipping” and “spurring”

A Neck X-Ray Showing Spinal Degeneration

This film is a sideways view of the neck showing degeneration. The signs of degeneration on this film include whitened corners of the vertebrae (upper back corners), loss of smooth forward arc, and the growth of bone spurs in the front. Some things to note include:

The smooth continuous arc is no longer as smooth – some bones do not line up correctly with the bone above or below

The spaces between the spinal bones are still mostly normal, but bone spurs are growing in the front of some bodies in the beginning stages of arthritis which will soon connect the bones and reduce neck motion

Some parts of the spine are getting whiter and brighter on the x-ray, which indicates osteoarthritis

The vertebral bodies are less square and somewhat more oddly-shaped

A Neck X-Ray showing Advancing Spinal Degeneration

This film is a sideways view of the neck showing ADVANCING DEGENERATION. The signs of advancing degeneration on this film include further whitening of the vertebrae (meaning more arthritis), further loss of smooth forward arc, and the growth of more bone spurs on the bones. Some things to note include:

Some of the bones in the middle of the neck are starting to connect with each other due to arthritis caused by loss of spinal integrity and alignment – this reduces allowable motion in the neck.

The spaces between the bones, where the discs should belong, are looking more and more smushed and small. The shock absorbing ability of the neck is being lost.

That nice forward curve of the neck is almost totally gone.

The mid and lower neck bones are becoming oddly-shaped due to spinal misalignment.

 A Neck X-Ray showing Late Stage Spinal Degeneration with Spinal Fusion

This film is a sideways view of the neck showing LATE-STAGE DEGENERATION with accompanying “natural” SPINAL FUSION. Some things to note include:

The neck has no more forward curve, instead it is a straight line. To imagine how this feels try holding a bowling ball out with your arm compared to holding a bowling ball up with your arm.

The spaces between the bones, where the discs should belong, are almost gone completely. This means that there is “bone-on-bone” and little, if any, shock absorption left in the neck.

Faulty weight-distribution is contributing to advancing osteoporosis.

Some of the bones are fusing together – bones get so close that they choose to join together to create stability rather than continue being unstable and misaligned. Instead of multiple unstable bones you get one, big fused bone with no movement possible.

A Neck X-Ray Showing Late Stage Spinal Degeneration with Surgical Spinal Fusion

This film is a sideways view of the neck showing LATE-STAGE DEGENERATION with accompanying SURGICAL SPINAL FUSION. Some things to note include:

The neck has no more forward curve, instead it is a straight line. To imagine how this feels try holding a bowling ball out with your arm compared to holding a bowling ball up with your arm.

The spaces between the bones, where the discs should belong, are almost gone completely. This means that there is “bone-on-bone” and little, if any, shock absorption left in the neck.

The bones in the neck have been surgically fused together with screws and a metal plate. There is no longer any movement permitted at this part of the neck, and the nerves coming off between those bones are in a very precarious place.