What is Clinical Thermography?

Taken from International Academy of Clinical Thermography.

Clinical thermography, otherwise known as infrared imaging, is based on a careful analysis of skin surface temperatures as a reflection of normal or abnormal human physiology. The procedure is commonly performed either by the direct application of liquid crystal plates to a part of the body, or via ultra-sensitive infrared cameras through a sophisticated computer interface.

Each procedure extrapolates the thermal data and forms an image which may be evaluated for signs of possible disease or injury. Extensive research and investigation performed at prestigious medical teaching institutions such as Johns Hopkins University Medical School, have established normal values for the distribution of heat in each region of the body(11-13). Variation from these normal values are measured and correlated with suspected injuries or diseases in the same way a blood or urine laboratory study is interpreted.

Over thirty years of clinical use and more than 8,000 peer-reviewed studies in the medical literature have established thermography as a safe and effective means to examine the human body (1-10). It is completely non-invasive, and as such does not require the use of radiation or other potentially harmful elements.

Medical research has shown thermography to be helpful in the diagnosis of (14-33):

  • Breast Cancer
  • Nervous System Disorders
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries
  • Headaches, Neck and Back Problems
  • TMJ Conditions
  • Pain Syndromes
  • Arthritis
  • Vascular Disorders
  • Soft Tissue Injuries among others


  1. Hobbins, W. Thermography and Pain. Biomedical Thermology, Alan R. Liss, Inc., New York. 1982:361-375.
  2. Uematsu S. Thermographic Imaging of Cutaneous Sensory Segment in Patients with Peripheral Nerve Injury – Skin Temperature Stability Between Sides of the Body. J Neurosurg 1985;62:716-720.
  3. Hubbard, J., Hoyt, C. Pain Evaluation in 805 Studies by Infrared Imaging. Thermology 1986;1:161-166.
  4. Joint Council of State Neurosurgical Societies of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Council Report – Neurosurgical Clinical Procedure Review of Thermography. Original Report 1988.
  5. Feldman, F., Nickoloff, E. Normal Thermographic Standards in the Cervical Spine and Upper Extremities. Skeletal Radiol 1984;12:235-249.
  6. AMA Council on Scientific Affairs. Thermography in neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. Thermology 1987;2:600-607.
  7. American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Subcommittee on Assessment of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Modalities, December 1990.
  8. American Chiropractic College of Thermology and ACA Council on Diagnostic Imaging, ratified by ACA House of Delegates. Policy statement on thermography, 1988.
  9. Abernathy M, Nichols R, Robinson C, Brandt M. Noninvasive testing for carotid stenosis: Thermography’s place in the diagnostic profile. Thermology 1985;1:61-66.
  10. Academy of Neuromuscular Thermography, Standards for neuromuscular thermography. Clin Thermography 1989 (Aug).
  11. Feldman F, Nickoloff EL. Normal thermographic standards for the cervical spine and upper extremities. Skeletal Radiol 1984;12:235-249.
  12. Uematsu S, Edwin DH, JankeI WR, Kozikowski J, Trattner M. Quantification of thermal asymmetry: Part 1. Normal values and reproducibility. J Neurosurg 1988;69:552-555.
  13. Uematsu S, Jankel WR, Edwin DH, Kim DM. Quantification of thermal asymmetry: Part 2. Application in low back pain and sciatica. J Neurosurg 1988:69:556-561.
  14. Chafitz N, Wexler CE, Kaiser JA. Neuromuscular thermography of the lumbar spine with CT correlation. Radiology 185 ;157-178.
  15. Ching C, Wexler CE. Peripheral thermographic manifestations of lumbar disc disease. Applied Radiology 1978;100:53-58.
  16. Conwell TD. Thermography in diagnosing myofascial pain syndromes and localizing trigger points. DC Tracts 1990;2(4):207-220.
  17. Dali TF, Abernathy M, Luessenhop AJ, Stotsky G. Electronic thermography in the diagnosis of lumbosacral radiculopathy. Proc Cong Neurol Surg, Oct 1983.
  18. Devereaux MD, Parr GR, Lachmann SM, et al. Thermographic diagnosis in athletes with patellofemoral arthralgia. J Bone Joint Surg 1986;68:42-44.
  19. Diakow PRP. Thermographic imaging of myofascial trigger points. JMPT 1988; 11(2):114-117.
  20. Drummond PD, Lance JW. Thermographic changes in cluster headaches. Neurology 1984;34: 1292-1298.
  21. Hendler N, Uematsu S, Long D. Thermographic validation of physical complaints in psychogenic pain patients. Psychosomatics 1982:23.
  22. Herrich RT. Thermography as a diagnostic tool for carpal tunnel syndrome. 13th Annual Meeting American Academy Thermology, Washington DC, June 1984.
  23. Hobbins WB. Thermography in sports medicine. In: Appenzeller O, ed. Sports Medicine, ed 3, Baltimore: Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1988:395-403.
  24. Hodge SD, ed. Thermography and personal injury litigation. New York: Wiley, 1987.
  25. Weinstein SA, Weinstein G. The validation of TMJ dysfunction with standardized computerized electronic thermography. Modern Med, special supplement. Academy of Neuromuscular Thermography, Clinical Proceedings, Orlando, FL,1986:35-40.
  26. Weinstein SA, Weinstein G. A clinical comparison of cervical thermography with EMG, CT scanning, myelography and surgical procedures in 500 patients. Academy of Neuromuscular Thermography, 1st Annual Meeting, May 1985. Post grad Med, special ed, 1986:44-46.
  27. Sioni, I. H.: Thermography in Suspected Deep Venous Thrombosis of Lower Leg. Europ J. Radiol., May 1985; pp. 281-284.
  28. Andersons: Thermography and Plethysmography in the Diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis. A comparison with Phlebography. ACTA Med. Scand., 1986; pp. 219, 359-366.
  29. Ecker, A.: Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Thermography in Diagnosis. Psychiatric Annals, 14(11), pp. 787-793, 1984.
  30. Swerdlow, B., Dieter, J. N.: “The Persistent Migraine Cold Patch and the Fixed Facial Thermogram,Thermology, 1986; 2: 1620.
  31. Wood, E. H.: Thermography in the Diagnosis of Cerebrovascular Disease. Radiology, 1965; 85: pp. 270-283.
  32. Lance, J. W., Anthony, M.: Thermographic Studies in Vascular Headache. Med J., Aug., 1971; pp. 240-243.
  33. Swerdlow, B., Dieter, J.: The Validity of the Vascular “Cold Patch” in the Diagnosis of Chronic Headache. Headache, 1986; 26: pp. 22-26.
Share This:

About Dr. Michael Polsinelli, DC

I really enjoy my work. It is a combination of listening, analyzing, and the skill of performing my craft. I love the expression on my patients faces when I puzzle out a long standing problem of theirs, or when their pain leaves after gently adjusting them. Read more about me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *