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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Arthritis and X-Rays

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An X-ray uses a very small amount of radiation to produce an image of the bones and tissues surrounding a joint.

In evaluating arthritis, your doctor uses X-rays to:

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  • Rule out injury or other diseases of the joint
  • Have a baseline film for comparison while being treated for arthritis
  • Look at the structures of a particular joint or joints

How Should I Prepare for an X-ray?

No special preparation is necessary for a X-ray, but you should tell the technician if you could be pregnant. The risks of radiation exposure to the fetus are small, but they should be minimized,

You will need to remove all jewelry before the test. You may need to remove some clothing, depending on the part of the body being X-rayed. You'll be given something to cover yourself.

What Happens During an X-ray?

The X-ray is performed in a radiology department.

The X-ray machine will send a beam of ionizing radiation through an X-ray tube. This energy passes through the part of the body being X-rayed and is then absorbed on film or a digital camera to create a picture. Bones and other dense areas show up as lighter shades of gray, while areas that don't absorb the radiation appear as dark gray.

The entire test takes no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

You will feel no discomfort from the X-ray test.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 18, 2014
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