An X-ray is a diagnostic exam that produces images of the hard structures inside the body — particularly the bones.

During the exam, X-ray beams pass through the body and are absorbed in different amounts depending on the density of the material they pass through. Dense materials, such as bone and metal, are seen as white on X-rays, whereas air in the lungs shows up as black. Fat and muscle appear as shades of gray.

Some patients may be given a contrast medium — such as iodine or barium — to provide greater detail in the images.

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X-ray-room-in-a-hospital

Why X-Rays Are Done


X-ray exams can be done to examine the bones, teeth, chest, and abdomen.

A few conditions affecting the bones and teeth that can be diagnosed with the help of an X-ray include:

  • Fractures and infections
  • Arthritis and its progression
  • Dental decay
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone cancer

An X-ray can also identify abnormalities in the chest, such as:

  • Lung infections or conditions, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, or lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Enlarged heart
  • Blocked blood vessels

Patients experiencing symptoms affecting their abdomen may need to undergo an X-ray to identify:

  • Digestive tract problems
  • Swallowed items

What to Expect During an X-Ray


An X-ray exam may be performed at doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, emergency rooms, clinics, and hospitals. During an exam, the machine produces a safe level of radiation that passes through the patient’s body and records an image on a specialized plate. Patients will not feel anything from the radiation.

The exam will begin with the technologist positioning the patient’s body to obtain the necessary views and placing pillows or sandbags to help the patient lie still for the duration of the exam. During the X-ray exposure, the patient will be instructed to remain still and sometimes hold their breath to avoid moving.

A simple X-ray procedure may take just a few minutes. More-involved procedures, such as those using a contrast medium, will take longer.

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Treatment Options


Depending on the results of the X-ray, patients may need treatment that incorporates pain management techniques, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine. The right treatment will depend on the patient’s age, condition, and level of pain.

Treatment may incorporate pain management techniques, such as cold and heat therapy, gentle exercise, physical therapy, biofeedback, mind-body techniques, therapeutic massage, music therapy, and occupational therapy. Each patient will receive personalized recommendations from their doctor for managing pain.

Patients at Westcare Clinics may also receive joint and soft tissue injections to help address their pain. These injections may include epidural injections (interlaminar and transforaminal), piriformis injection, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections.

Westcare Clinics offers occupational medicine for patients who need to continue working. Our team of healthcare practitioners is available to train employers to adapt the workplace and worker responsibilities according to the physical limitations of an employee undergoing treatment.

Advanced Treatment


Patients experiencing severe symptoms may need advanced treatment that may include surgery, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and other forms of rehabilitation. The Westcare Clinics team is happy to answer any questions patients may have about obtaining advanced treatment.

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