In Office X-rays

Along with questions of your medical history, your doctor may need to take x-rays of your foot to help aid in making a diagnosis to determine the cause of your foot pain.


X-ray imaging, also called radiography, is a fast and easy way to identify and diagnose foot and ankle injuries and disorders such as arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, fractures and infections. It is also used in conjunction with orthopedic surgery to to ensure that a fracture or other injury has been properly aligned, and it can aid in the detection and diagnosis of cysts, tumors and severe infections of the bones. X-rays may be followed up with MRI, PET, CT, or ultrasound imaging if further testing is needed.

What is an x-ray?

A foot X-ray is a safe and painless test that uses a small amount of radiation to make an image of a person’s foot. During the examination, an X-ray machine sends a beam of radiation through the foot, and an image is recorded on special X-ray film. This image shows the bones of the foot, which include the tarsal bones (ankle bones), metatarsal bones (front end of foot), and phalanges (toes).

The X-ray image is black and white. Dense structures that block the passage of the X-ray beam through the body, such as the bones, appear white. Softer body tissues, such as the muscles, allow the X-ray beams to pass through them and appear darker.

Different pictures can be taken of the foot. The most common views are: one from the front (anteroposterior view or AP), one from the side (lateral view), and one at an angle (oblique view).

X-rays are able to penetrate through non-metallic materials. This property makes it possible to use X-ray equipment to create an image of the human body that allows a physician to get a look at what is happening inside without the need for an invasive procedure. The process involves creating a concentrated beam of electrons and smashing them into some sort of metal film. The result of that crash between the metallic film and the highly charged electrons is a concentration of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. This radiation is what is normally termed X-rays.

Why It’s Done

The foot X-ray can help find the cause of common signs and symptoms such as pain, tenderness, swelling, or deformities. It can detect broken bones or dislocated joints. After a broken bone has been set, an X-ray can help determine whether the bones are in proper alignment and whether they have healed properly.

If surgery is required, an X-ray may be taken to plan for the surgery and to assess the results of the operation. Also, an X-ray can help to detect cysts, tumors, and later-stage infections of the bones.

At the Family FootCare Center, we specialize in: