What Does a Neck X-Ray Show?


Our neck is one of our body’s most sensitive and important parts. It protects our spinal cord, the main highway for nerve signals from our brain to the rest of our body. So it’s no wonder that we experience a lot of pain and discomfort when something goes wrong in our neck.

If you feel uncomfortable with your neck or there is an unexplainable pain you can’t shake, your doctor may decide to order a neck x-ray. This simple diagnostic test can give your doctor a clear look at what’s going on inside your neck and help them determine the best course of treatment.

What is a neck x-ray?

A neck x-ray is a painless diagnostic test that uses a small amount of radiation to produce clear images of the structures in your neck, including your bones, muscles, soft tissues, and blood vessels.

Your doctor may order a neck x-ray if you have symptoms like:

They may also order a neck x-ray to check for problems like:

What is a cervical spine x-ray?

Cervical spine x-rays are a type of neck x-ray that specifically looks at the bones in your cervical spine, which is the upper part of your spine that runs through your neck. Your doctor may order this test if they suspect you have a problem with one or more of the bones in your cervical spine.

Who should get a neck x-ray?

Anyone who feels they may have a problem with their neck or is experiencing neck pain, stiffness, or swelling should talk to their doctor. Your doctor will decide if a neck x-ray is the best diagnostic tool for you based on your symptoms and medical history.

What is the purpose of a neck x-ray?

Neck x-rays are used for a variety of reasons. such as:

  • They can help your doctor diagnose the cause of your neck pain or stiffness.
  • Check for fractures or other problems with the bones in your neck.
  • Look for tumors, infections, or other abnormalities in the soft tissues of your neck.

Whatever the reason, a neck x-ray can give your doctor a clear look at the structures in your neck so they can determine the best course of treatment.

What does a neck x-ray show?

Since the neck is vulnerable to any accidents and injury, a neck x-ray can show a variety of things. 

The most common reason for getting a it is to check for fractures, but it can also show other problems such as:

  • Fractures. A break in one or more of the bones in your neck can be painful and may make it difficult to move your neck.
  • Dislocations. A dislocation occurs when two bones that are normally joined together become separated. This can be painful and make it difficult to move your neck.
  • Tumors. Tumors can develop in any part of your body, including your neck. While not all tumors are cancerous, they can still cause pain and other problems.
  • Infections. Infections can occur in any part of your body, including your neck. They can cause pain, swelling, and redness.
  • Arthritis. Arthritis is a common condition that causes joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. It can occur in any joint in your body, including the joints in your neck.
  • Spinal cord compression. Spinal cord compression occurs when something, such as a tumor, presses on the spinal cord. This can cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the arms and legs.

Your doctor will be looking for any abnormalities in the bones, muscles, soft tissues, and blood vessels in your neck. They will also be looking at the alignment of your spine.

What are the risks of a neck x-ray?

While neck x-ray sessions are entirely painless and considered very low-risk, there are a few potential risks. 

These include:

Radiation exposure

X-rays use ionizing radiation, which can be harmful if exposed to too much. However, the amount of radiation you are exposed to during a neck x-ray is very low.

Allergic reaction

Some people may be allergic to the contrast dye used during a neck x-ray. This can cause symptoms such as hives, itching, and swelling. If you are allergic to contrast dye, your doctor will take special precautions to avoid exposure.

When should I get a neck x-ray?

Getting a neck x-ray should be done if you feel and see the following symptoms:

  • Severe neck pains
  • Numbness of fingers
  • Immobility of the neck
  • Stiffness in your neck
  • Tenderness in your neck or upper back
  • Pain during movement
  • Persistent pains
  • Neck swells
  • Pain in swallowing
  • Hoarseness of voice

If these symptoms do not go away after some time, it is best to consult your doctor and have yourself checked. Do not wait for the pain to worsen before you get a neck x-ray.

How is a neck x-ray performed?

A neck x-ray is performed while you are standing or sitting up. You will need to remove any jewelry or clothing that might get in the way of the x-ray. You will also need to remove any hair clips, wigs, or hats.

The x-ray machine will be positioned behind you and will take pictures from different angles. You will need to hold still during the procedure so that the pictures are clear.

How do I prepare for a neck x-ray?

There is no need for any special preparation before a neck x-ray. 

But here are some things you can do before your x-ray:

  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Remove jewelry
  • Remove any accessories such as hats, wigs, and hair clips.

How long does it take to get a neck x-ray?

A neck x-ray only takes a few minutes to complete. Typically, the entire procedure, from start to finish, will take less than 30 minutes.

When will I receive my neck x-ray results?

You will typically receive your results within a few days. Your doctor will review the results with you and explain any abnormalities found. Your doctor will let you know if any follow-up tests or treatments are needed.

How much does a neck x-ray cost?

The cost of a neck x-ray depends on your insurance coverage and the facility where you have the procedure done. Typically, it cost between $100 and $300.

Is radiation involved in a neck x-ray?

Yes, neck x-rays use ionizing radiation. This type of radiation can be harmful if you are exposed to too much of it. However, the amount of radiation you are exposed to during a neck x-ray is very low. The risk of developing cancer from a neck x-ray is also very low.

Where to get a neck x-ray

Neck x-rays can be provided by diagnostic centers. One Step Diagnostic is a reputable and trusted neck x-ray provider in Texas. They provide high-quality neck x-rays at an affordable price. Visit their website to learn more about their services.

Have a Neck X-Ray Today!

With the right precautions, a neck x-ray is a low-risk procedure that can provide valuable information about your health. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any neck pain or other symptoms so that they can determine if a neck x-ray is right for you.


One Step Diagnostic has been Texas’s leading American College of Radiology (ACR) accredited radiology center since 2006. We employ board-certified radiologists to offer advanced imaging tests, including digital X-rays, MRI, CT, DEXA scans, ultrasounds, mammograms, and pain management services.


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