When to Get an X-Ray After a Fall

Dr. Farizani
March 28, 2023

There are about 3.6 billion X-rays performed every year around the world. The odds are that you will be a part of that statistic in one year. But do you know when to get an X-ray after a fall?

The last thing you want to do is avoid going to the doctor if you have all the signs pointing to needing an X-ray. But on the other hand, you may not want to spend the money to get an X-ray.

So when should you go? Keep reading this guide to figure out when you need to see a doctor!

What Is the Point of an X-Ray?

X-rays are an essential tool to help doctors determine what is wrong. They are typically used to determine if you have a bone break or a fracture.

However, X-rays can also see if there are specific causes of pain and swelling in a particular area of your body. They can identify foreign objects inside your body. They can also show structural issues that your bones and joints may have.

If you fall and then experience pain, getting an X-ray can help rule out any possible breaks or fractures, and if you do have one, it can be the starting point of treatment.

Do X-rays Show Everything?

The answer is no! X-rays are not all-encompassing for figuring out what is wrong with your body. If you fall and feel pain, it could be due to many different things.

An injury might not appear on an X-ray if you didn’t hurt your bones or joints. Additionally, you may not see damage on an X-ray if it is a slight fracture.

This is why getting a few other scans is vital if nothing is found on an X-ray, yet you are in much pain. You could have torn a ligament or tendon, which wouldn’t appear on this scan.

Going to see a doctor to figure out what is best for you can help you determine the steps for treatment. Luckily, getting the X-ray first can rule out breaks and fractures for the most part.

Signs It’s Time to Get an X-Ray

There are some clear signs of when you should get an X-ray. You will want to see a doctor if you have any of these signs.

Trouble Walking or Moving

If you have an ankle injury, you will most likely have an issue walking. It can be uncomfortable and painful. You may not even be able to put any pressure on your foot.

Excruciating pain and discomfort are both signs of a broken leg. However, it could also be a muscle sprain that won’t appear on an X-ray. Either way, getting one will rule out the first plausible cause—a broken bone.

From there, you can start to get other scans to rule out other potential injuries.

But what if it isn’t your leg? If you fell, you may have injured another part of your body, such as an arm or wrist. If you have trouble moving this limb, it may be time for an X-ray to rule out any broken bones on this part of your body.

Persistent Pain

If you fall and have dull pain, but it gradually improves, you most likely do not have a severe injury. However, if the pain only worsens or is highly persistent, you may be dealing with a fracture or a bone break. There could also be joint or tissue inflammation pain, which an X-ray can pick up.

Based on what the X-ray shows, you can start treatment for it!

What to Do If You Don’t Have Those Signs

You may not need an X-ray if you have been through a fall and don’t have these signs. Instead, there are a few other things that you can do just to prevent injury or help your body recover from the fall naturally.

You will want to try out the RICE regime.

The first thing you should do is rest. If a part of your body feels swollen or uncomfortable, do not try to use it or put weight on it. This can cause more damage.

You’ll also want to use ice on the area for about 15-20 minutes. Do this throughout the day to reduce swelling.

If there is swelling, compress the area to reduce the swelling as much as possible.

And, of course, you’ll need to elevate the area to reduce swelling whenever you can. Although this may not always be possible, doing it as much as possible can make a huge difference in how you feel.

Now You Know When to Get an X-Ray After a Fall

Whether you are five years old, 25 years old, or 85 years old, falling can create a lot of stress on your body. It can also lead to injuries that need treatment.

The last thing you want to do is ignore these issues if you feel pain after a fall. If you experience any signs of injury, seeing a physician for an X-ray is best.

If you are in Houston, call us at Hillcroft Physicians to make an appointment. We have expert knowledge and experience to help you treat an injury if the X-ray shows you have one!

Dr. Farizani

Dr. Farizani created the medical and operational foundation of Hillcroft Physicians, PA., and expanded the clinic and its mission to become one of the largest small group practices in Houston. Dr. Farizani speaks English, Farsi, and Spanish.