5 Ways X-Rays Make Pain Relief Possible
Pain relief starts with diagnosis. A quick x-ray can answer questions about your joint pain, intestinal problems, aching bones, or other problems today.
A problem inside your body may come to light with unexplained pain, bruising, or discomfort in any part of your body. Relief may come in the form of a cure or prolonged treatment, but diagnosis comes before treatment, and diagnosis very often comes in the form of an x-ray. An x-ray is a quick procedure which answers a lot of questions about what is happening inside the body. Often, doctor’s review notes are available on the same day as the test.
It is natural to be concerned about the effects of x-rays on the body, both short-term and long-term. After all, x-rays are a form of radiation, and are known to increase the risk of cancer. However, the medical community takes every precaution available to keep the procedure as quick and safe as possible. This is done by using the minimum amperage, shielding the parts of the body that are not being examined, and only using the x-ray long enough to capture a picture.
When the technology first surfaced in 1896, x-rays were taken much more lightly. X-ray machines used to be available in shoe stores just so people could see their bones wiggling around inside a brand new shoe. Nowadays x-ray risks are taken very seriously, and the technology is only used when necessary.
X-rays are used every day to get a closer look at places we experience pain, find out what is going on, and determine the next step. The technology is also used to track the effects of a disease over time and to check whether a treatment is working properly.
These 5 problems, often affecting senior citizens, rely on x-rays of their diagnosis and therefore their treatment.
Affecting nearly 50% of adults 65 and older, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that grows worse with age. Individuals experiencing pain in their joints will begin by visiting a doctor for an x-ray. Though more tests may be needed for the final verdict, the doctor will be able to determine the type of arthritis, the location, and the severity. It will then be a matter of prescribing the right medication, or moving forward with a surgical procedure or injection in order to dramatically reduce the pain. Without an x-ray, it is difficult to determine the information necessary to choose the right treatment, or to carry it out safely and properly.
Often found inside the stomach or intestines, an ulcer is an open sore that does not heal on its own. If left alone, it can cause a great deal of pain as well as leave the body vulnerable to infection. In order to help the doctor look for ulcers, you may have to drink barium, which is broken down naturally by the stomach. If an ulcer is found, you will likely be prescribed antibiotics as well as a medication to keep stomach acid down until symptoms, and the ulcer, disappear.
There is more than one cause of stomach and intestinal pain. A hernia is caused when the intestines push into territory where they don’t belong, potentially causing discomfort and blockage. Sometimes the intestines are out of place but cause no other problems, in which case no further action needs to be taken. Hernias do not go away on their own, but many can be resolved with an out-patient surgery with bed rest of one to two weeks.
When bones break, the result is not always dramatic. Sometimes people walk away from a bone fracture with minimal pain, and only become worried when the area bruises over and the pain persists for weeks. In some cases, minor fractures heal just fine on their own. In other cases, the bone may be chipped or shattered, or it may heal improperly if left untreated. The safest response, regardless of the severity of a bone break, is to have a doctor examine the fracture under an x-ray and determine the best treatment.
A cast or brace is sufficient to keep many fractures in place for them to heal. Other situations may call for an internal or external fixation to hold the bone in place. If the bone is out of place, the doctor may provide a traction to push it back into position. The healing process can be sped up with increased calcium and vitamin D.
Loss of bone mass is something that affects everyone as they age. Osteoporosis is when bones start to lose integrity, making it more likely for bones to break. It is diagnosed when a doctor looks at the bone quality using an x-ray. Some medications are known to increase bone density or prevent further bone loss. Refraining from cigarettes and alcohol helps to protect the bones. Exercise also helps to improve balance and prevent falling, keeping bones safe.
These five problems are far from the only things that can be diagnosed using an x-ray. Other observable problems include swallowed objects, tooth decay, infections, enlarged heart, blocked blood vessels, bone cancer, tumors, and various conditions affecting the lungs.
Controlled x-ray bursts are considered safe for adults but not for the fetus of a pregnant woman. Posing for an x-ray as well as the x-ray, itself, may cause pain or discomfort in people with certain conditions such as broken and fractured bones. Your doctor may recommend pain medication for the procedure. If you are given a contrast dye before the procedure, it may cause hives, itching, lightheadedness, nausea, or a metal taste in your mouth. In extreme cases, some have experienced anaphylactic shock, low blood pressure, or cardiac arrest. In the unusual cases that this happens, emergency treatment is close at hand.
If you or a friend is experiencing pain, please seek medical care. There is no need to live with chronic pain when the solution may be simple and permanent. Senior Medical Associates offers X-ray services at most locations. If you are 65 or older, schedule a free Meet and Greet with a provider who will take the time to understand your medical history and develop a wellness plan.