When is Thermography Used?
You may be familiar with what thermography is. You may have read or heard about answers to basic questions surrounding thermography. But you may still be wondering if thermography is for you, or when is thermography used?
Anyone with a body can benefit from thermography.
Thermography can give you insight into potential health concerns before you have symptoms.
Thermography is a medical imaging option that truly is for everybody.
Today we are going to look specifically at when thermography is used.
Thermography can be used for many reasons, some of which 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).
Of the many incidences that can benefit from thermography, some of the most common usages are:
Breast health can house a variety of meanings. For anyone who has placed a priority on their breast health, there are some important things to know about thermography.
Thermography can be helpful as an adjunct screening tool for breast cancer/potential breast cancer– being able to detect subtle breast changes much earlier than other screening tools can detect a mass.
Because thermography monitors the body’s heat patterns, and metastatic breast cancers create heat which can be read by digital infrared imaging, thermography can be 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 see a mass. Thermography is a safe early warning detection system, as it uses no radiation and does not compress breast tissue.
Thermography’s usage as a screening tool for breast cancer can be a controversial discussion topic– it should be stated as a reminder that thermography does not function as a replacement for mammography. Instead, thermography may be used adjunctively 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. It was this usage of thermography that prompted the clinical interest in thermography as a diagnostic tool.
When a muscle is strained or torn, chemicals are released, and these chemicals cause increased heat. This will show up “hot” on a thermogram in the region of the muscle or trigger point. This display of heat in a thermal image is seen with fibromyalgia, for example.
If you have a stance that is altered for some known or unknown reason, heat patterns seen on a thermogram of the legs and soles of the feet could reveal that the cause of your altered gait is related to foot condition or a low back condition.
Back strain produces consistent heat patterns. While 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.
An example of this might be 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. This is important and relevant so that you can receive 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 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.
Thermography 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– thermal imaging assesses these conditions readily.
These blood vessels run under very thin tissue of the bone and skull and are easily visualized with thermal imaging. Neck vessels are very large sized vessels that can be easily seen with thermal imaging.
By assessing and monitoring these vessels, thermography can pick 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– because 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.
Other endocrine disorders including hypo and hyperthyroidism can also be evaluated with thermography.
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 can all be assessed via thermography.
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, heat will be seen 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 thermography 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, and this is another exciting potential use for thermography.
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 be monitored and assessed using thermography.
Healing processes of the skin and body are monitored well by thermal imaging. Infrared thermography can give a more precise level of information than some other imaging services, or in cases where no imaging services would typically be considered.
Skin tumors, wound healing after surgery, and sports injuries can all be monitored and assessed by thermography.
Respiratory dysfunctions can benefit from thermal imaging, as 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 is to be avoided when not absolutely necessary, and remember, thermography 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, thermography can give you the insight you’re wanting.
Thermography truly is for everybody.
Where Do I Go for a Thermogram/Where is Thermography Available?
Insight Thermography of Oklahoma is located at:
Insight also offers thermography at various places within the OKC metro, so do not hesitate to contact Erin and Mandi at Insight (405) 306-6340 if you’d like to set up an appointment or have any questions.