Since its inception in the mid-1980s, digital x-ray technology has steadily improved, helping practitioners care for patients more efficiently. Much like the evolution from analog to digital cameras, traditional radiography produces images via film and chemical processing, whereas digital x-ray engineers an instant image – data that can easily be transferred onto a CD, a flash drive, or can be shared via email .

Not only are digital x-ray images more portable, they reduce environmental impact by eliminating the need for film processing and chemical consumption. In chiropractic, digital technology is used to identify vertebral subluxations, spinal misalignments which, if left uncorrected, can interfere with the body's performance on several levels. Early and detailed detection helps doctors of chiropractic initiate a plan of care that can help restore the patient's overall health and wellbeing.

Advantages for Practitioners
Chiropractors have benefited greatly from the advent and increasing availability of digital radiography. Although traditional film x-ray is still used in some practices, the advantages of digital technology far outpace the capabilities of film and view boxes. Digital images make it much easier for doctors of chiropractic to view and detect anomalies. They can highlight structures, enhance cortical outlines, adjust brightness and magnify images. Also, faster screening and increased patient throughput give digital x-ray devices a lower cost of ownership compared to the processing, storage and chemical components required of analog systems.

Benefits for Patients
Although patients benefit in many ways from the detailed results digital x-rays produce, one of the most significant advantages that enjoy is a reduced exposure to radiation. Since digital images are clear and can not be lost or damaged, fewer retakes are necessary due to quality issues. Also, doctors of chiropractic can share digital x-rays instantly with their patients, talking them through a review of results and making recommendations for a plan of care. Practitioners can overlay the x-ray with annotations that help patients visualize and understand their case, as well as see how chiropractic care could improve their overall health.

Clarifying the Importance of Spinal Alignment
With a crystal clear x-ray image of the spine, chiropractors can point out precisely where misalignments have taken place, helping patients conceptualize how the subluxation puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, potentially blocking messages from the brain. As an essential informational conduit, a well-aligned spine contributions to the body's ability to perform and heal at optimal levels. When chiropractors use annotated digital images to describe this important concept, patients are more likely to recognize the importance of, and pursue care. Productive dialogue helps encourage patient education, which in turn facilitates a swifter return to optimal health. Graduates of chiropractic college are well versed in the operation of digital x-ray machines, making sharing easier and boosting patient confidence that the most advanced technology is being used to guide assessment and evaluate adjustments.