Do You Need An X-Ray When Injured While Doing Sports?

Since most people get scared whenever an injury happens, it is normal to want to go through all possible tests in order to be sure you are in a good condition. However, in 90% of cases you do not actually need to get an x-ray done.

In the past years people ended up thinking that the x-ray machine is a vital and highly important tool that will always be able to diagnose injuries. The truth is that you rarely actually need an x-ray when talking about sports injuries.

The main goal of the x-ray is to assess bones. It will rarely show soft-tissue findings. Also, the x-ray will show joint degeneration signs, which in many cases are completely normal because of age factors. According to numerous research being done, most people that are older than forty will show some joint degeneration signs. If a minor injury happens and you get the x-ray done, it is possible that you end up thinking the injury is much worse than it actually is simply because the film shows signs of degenerated joints.

Generally speaking, there are situations in which an x-ray may be needed but the choice should be done by an experienced doctor that does take into account various factors and only after physical examination and an analysis of medical history. The cases where x-rays may be necessary include:

  • Trauma – like being hit, bumps or falls.
  • Acute redness or swelling without an unknown origin.
  • Pain or injury getting worse as time passes.
  • Physical/visual deformities.

It is really easy to notice that most sports injuries are not going to fall into the categories mentioned. Clinicians need to show caution and restraint when patients are sent to the x-ray machine, just as when prescribing medication. Similarly to how too many drugs were prescribed, way too many x-ray were done when they were not actually needed. Fortunately, clinicians have the support of modern research being done right now. Numerous studies showed that the facts mentioned above are completely true when referring to x-rays.

To make matters even more interesting, although your injury might fall into the categories mentioned above, the x-ray rarely shows some significant findings that are going to change the optimal treatment plan. Doctors actually tend to use the x-rays only in order to rule out various things and make a better diagnosis.

It is highly recommended you stay away from the doctors that are really quick to send you to the x-ray machine. This is especially the case in the event your case does not fall into the categories highlighted. Radiation coming from the x-ray machine is minimal and safe but can be quite unnecessary in so many cases. The result of the x-ray will rarely contribute to the management plan you will go through in order to recover from the sports injury you suffered. Be extra careful whenever you see words like “arthritis” or “degeneration” being used by the doctors to scare you. The best doctors are the ones that only do what is needed for you to recover.

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