When is Thermography Used?
You may be familiar with thermography.
Maybe you’ve read or heard about answers to basic questions surrounding thermography.
Perhaps you’re still wondering if this imaging option is for you?
Or wondering when is thermography used?
Wherever you’re at on your thermography journey, know this: anyone with a body can benefit from thermography. Even before you have symptoms, thermal imaging can give you insight into potential health concerns. Truly for everybody, this medical imaging option is useful for multiple reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- preventative health maintenance
- preventative health and wellness
- monitoring the progress of a body or body system (protocol will vary depending on the issue at hand).
For further information, check out this related reading:
Some of the most common uses for thermography:
Breast health covers a wide range of topics. If breast health is a priority to you, there are some important things to know about thermography.
Helpful as an adjunct screening tool for breast cancer/potential breast cancer, thermography can detect subtle breast changes much earlier than other screening tools can detect a mass.
Thermography monitors the body’s heat patterns. Interesting to note, metastatic breast cancers create heat. This heat is readable by digital infrared imaging. Therefore, thermal imaging is a useful tool in monitoring breast health/breast changes.
This is significant because thermal imaging can measure these heat signatures years before conventional technology can identify a mass. Thermography is a safe early warning detection system. It uses no radiation. It also does not compress breast tissue.
Thermography’s usage as a screening tool for breast cancer can be a controversial discussion topic. Reminder: thermography does not serve as a replacement for mammography. Instead, it may be used with mammography to monitor breast changes over time.
Because thermography detects inflammation, it can also be a useful screening tool for mastitis, benign tumors, and fibrocystic breast disease.
From the late 70s to the late 80s, chiropractors, neurologists, and orthopedists used thermography in spinal injury cases from car accidents and work injuries. This usage of thermal imaging prompted the clinical interest in thermography as a diagnostic tool.
As a muscle strains or tears, chemicals release. These chemicals increase heat to the area. This shows up “hot” on a thermogram in the region of the muscle or trigger point.
Consider an altered gait/stance. In a thermogram, heat patterns seen on the legs and soles of the feet could reveal the cause of your altered gait. This cause may be related to a foot condition, but could even be related to a low back condition.
Back strain produces consistent heat patterns. These patterns can tell us about possible sources of spinal injuries. They can also show us areas where our spine is compensating for something else.
Say you’ve got a painful low back. What seems to be a low back issue, and may even be receiving treatment as such, may actually be stemming from the mid back or even the neck. Thermography can help reveal this, which is important and relevant to you receiving proper care.
Nerve damage shows up on a thermogram as a cool area in the nerve tracts coming from the spine. Causes of nerve damage could be disc herniation or spinal nerve root compression. Thermography has even been used to document the permanency of a spinal injury. It is accurate and relevant enough that this modality has been used in trial courts to prove injury and rate disability.
Thermal imaging can also monitor improvement of these neuro-musculo-skeletal/nerve related dysfunctions.
Extra-cranial vessel disease and vascular diseases of the lower extremities
Extra-Cranial Vessel Disease consists of conditions relating to flow of blood through vessels of the neck and head. And thermal imaging assesses these conditions readily.
These blood vessels run under very thin tissue of the bone and skull and are thermal imaging captures them easily. Because neck vessels are very large in size, a thermogram sees them easily, too.
By assessing and monitoring these vessels, thermography picks up on clues to the potential of developing vascular disease.
Lower extremity vessel diseases include deep vein thrombosis and other circulatory disorders.
The assistance thermography can provide in these instances is significant. Vascular disease can result in the loss of a limb and can contribute to the incidence of a stroke!
Hormonal changes involved with endocrine disorders
If you have cold feet but no other symptoms, you may assume you are dealing with a nerve or vascular issue. However, this can be a symptom of diabetes– even before a routine blood test could indicate that diagnosis. Diabetes is an endocrine system disorder.
Thermography is a useful tool to pick up on developing diabetic neuropathies before the foot loses all sense of feeling. This is positive, because it gives you the gift of time—time to treat the unknown underlying condition before permanent nerve damage occurs to the foot.
Additionally, thermal imaging can evaluate other endocrine disorders including hypo and hyperthyroidism.
Headaches, facial pain, dental concerns
Headaches can have varying causes and present in varying ways. Migraines, cluster headaches, and headaches related to the cervical spine are some of the headaches thermography can assess.
Facial injuries involving nerves can benefit from thermal imaging assessments as well. TMJ disorders are often observed or diagnosed using thermal imaging.
When the jaw or teeth have underlying problems, they show up as “hot” on a thermogram. Thermography is a safe way to indicate heat from sources such as the jaw and teeth. This is important because it opens a potential opportunity to screen individuals for dental cavities/tooth decay without exposing them to radiation from X-Rays.
Thermography is completely radiation free.
Additional dental uses for thermal imaging include the observance of the effects of amalgam fillings on some individuals. Amalgam fillings have been thought to be toxic for some patients. Heat signatures in the jaw can indicate this toxicity. Thermography can pick up on this! This is another exciting potential use for this imaging option.
Cardiovascular and circulatory disorders
Thermography can assist in the diagnosis of issues involving the cardiovascular system, as well as the circulatory system. This is substantial because monitoring cardiovascular health and function can be useful in preventing heart disease. Monitoring the health and function of the circulatory system can help in the prevention of circulatory issues like varicose veins.
The list of times thermography can be used (and is used) is much more exhaustive than the examples included here. Some other conditions assessed, observed, and monitored by thermography include:
Lymphatic dysfunctions such as lymphoma and leukemia can benefit from thermography. In severe cases of these diseases, infrared thermography can test therapy effectiveness. Thermography is also reliable at monitoring lymphatic involvement in disease.
Reproductive disorders such as gynecological problems, prostate issues, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, uterine concerns, and fibroids can all benefit from thermographic studies.
Thermal imaging monitors healing processes of the skin and body well. Infrared thermography gives a more precise level of information as compared to some other imaging services, or in cases where no imaging services are a consideration.
Skin tumors, wound healing after surgery, and sports injuries can all be monitored and assessed by thermography.
Respiratory dysfunctions can benefit from thermal imaging. This is because thermography can assist in identifying areas with disorders, especially when radiation is best avoided.
This makes thermography a great tool in regard to tonsillitis, swelling of lymphatic glands, sinusitis, runny or stuffy nose, ear infections, and teething problems. Radiation near the head should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Remember, thermal imaging is radiation free.
Urinary and digestive concerns including UTI, kidney issues, appendicitis, IBS, colitis, ulcerative colitis, and hyper/hypo gastric secretions can all benefit from thermal imaging assessments.
No matter the need, if you are wanting an extra tool in your healthcare prevention/monitoring toolbox, or if routine imaging isn’t routine for your exact need, thermal imaging can give you the insight you’re wanting.
Truly, thermography is for everybody.
Where Do I Go for a Thermogram/Where is Thermography Available?
Insight Thermography of Oklahoma is located at: