An X-ray of the spine is a safe and painless test to visualise the spinal column (back bone) and the surrounding soft tissues like muscles using small amount of radiation. The spinal column is made up of ring shaped bones, known as the vertebrae which are arranged over one another along with their intervertebral discs. The image is recorded on a special X-ray film. The X-ray image is black and white. Dense structures such as the bones, appear white and softer body tissues, such as the skin and muscles appear darker. The actual exposure time to radiation is usually less than a second, although the overall test may take 20-30 minutes.