What an X-ray Reveals About Your Condition

Apr 02, 2024
What an X-ray Reveals About Your Condition
X-rays give doctors and other medical providers a wealth of information about your bones, soft tissues, and organs, making them a valuable tool for both diagnosing and treating an array of health issues. Here’s when you might need an X-ray.

X-rays are a very common diagnostic procedure, with more than 3.5 billion performed every year around the world. But even though most of us have had at least one X-ray during our lives, many people still don’t know how X-rays work or why they’re important for helping us stay healthy.

With three locations offering island-wide care, Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy offers on-site X-ray services to help patients of all ages get the care they need, when they need it. Read on to learn when X-rays are ordered and why they’re so important for both diagnosing and treating an array of medical issues.

How X-ray imaging works

X-rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, the same spectrum that contains visible light waves and microwave energy waves. But while microwave energy is made up of energy with very long wavelengths, X-rays have much shorter wavelengths — even shorter than ultraviolet (UV) light, the type of light energy we get from the sun.

In fact, X-ray wavelengths are so short, they’re capable of passing through substances, including skin and other soft tissues. During an X-ray evaluation, light rays penetrate your tissues to varying degrees; soft tissue absorbs less X-ray energy, denser tissues, like bone, absorb more. This creates the light and dark areas visible in an X-ray image. 

Our team performs X-rays on site using the most advanced equipment. Each X-ray takes just a few seconds and uses very little radiation: One chest X-ray exposes you to roughly the same amount of radiation as what you’d absorb normally from the environment over a 10-day period, which equates to about a third of the radiation your body absorbs during a 10-hour plane flight.

What X-ray imaging reveals

X-ray imaging is widely used in many areas of medicine — in fact, most of us have had dental X-rays at least a few times. The medical specialists on our team evaluate images to identify unusual areas that could indicate an injury or another problem, like the issues listed below.

Bone fractures

X-rays play a key role in diagnosing and treating bone fractures. If our team suspects you have a fracture, we perform an X-ray to pinpoint the break and assess the severity of the fracture, so we can tailor your care to your needs and foster optimal healing.

Joint dislocations

Dislocations happen when a bone comprising a joint “pops out” of its normal location — for instance, when the upper arm bone slips out of the cup part of the shoulder  joint where it rests. X-rays confirm the exact nature of the dislocation and help guide treatment. 

With the detailed information of an X-ray image, we’re in a better position to create a treatment plan that restores joint structure and function and prevents future dislocations.

Respiratory infections or symptoms

Shortness of breath, fever, cough, and chest congestion are symptoms of colds and flus, but they can also be symptoms of pneumonia and other chest infections. Our team can use X-rays to look for inflammation, fluid buildup, and other symptoms that indicate a serious lung issue that requires acute medical treatment. 

We may also order chest X-rays for serious asthma symptoms, or to monitor the progression of lung issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Chronic joint pain

In addition to dislocations, joint problems like arthritis can be diagnosed and managed with X-rays. We evaluate joints for signs of wear and tear, bone spurs, and other abnormalities that could indicate a problem that requires treatment.

Foreign objects

X-ray imaging plays a critical role in assessing foreign objects that have been inhaled or swallowed. In some cases, they can also be used to guide the removal of objects that might pierce the skin or soft tissues.

Gastrointestinal symptoms

Stomach pain, chronic heartburn, and other issues that affect your gastrointestinal (GI) system can be difficult to diagnose on their own. X-rays let our team evaluate your GI system to look for specific problems so we can prescribe appropriate care.

Custom treatment for optimal wellness

We also use X-rays to track healing following certain injuries, such as a sprained ankle, or to evaluate the effectiveness of specific treatments. Whatever your medical needs may be, on-site X-rays are just one way our team helps you and your family stay healthy — without the hassle of traveling to multiple medical offices to get the care you require. 

If you need an X-ray, on-site lab testing, or other medical services, schedule an appointment online or over the phone today with our expert team at Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii.