Spinal‌ ‌Decompression

If you’ve thought about going to a full-service chiropractor, you’ve likely heard about spinal decompression. This non-surgical method is a boon to adults who have been told there is no remedy for their chronic back pain. Often, doctors advise patients nothing can be done about their pain or that surgery is their only option. 

Spinal decompression, a motorized therapy that gently stretches the spine, can take pressure off herniated disks and bring relief. However, there are a few conditions that should discourage or prevent patients from using spinal decompression. 

This article discusses spinal decompression therapy in detail and examines which conditions it can treat. It also discusses risk factors and how we need more evidence to conclude the treatment’s efficacy. Continue reading to learn whether spinal decompression therapy might be right for you.

What Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression?

Nonsurgical spinal decompression uses motorized traction to relieve back pain. The motorized traction relieves back pain by gently stretching and changing the force and position of the spine. In theory, this modification removes pressure from the spinal disks- gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine. 

This process can cause bulging or herniated disks to retract, removing pressure from the nerves encased by the vertebrae and the vertebrae joints themselves.  The removal of the stress from your vertebrae should promote the free movement of nutrients, water, and oxygen throughout the disks, promoting quicker healing processes. 

Spinal decompression can potentially treat the following conditions: 

  • General neck or back pain and pain emanating from sciatica, nerve pain that causes weakness and tingling sensations down the leg. 
  • Bulging or herniated disks. 
  • Worn spinal joints (posterior facet syndrome) 
  • Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots

The medical community needs to conduct more research to determine the safety and efficacy of spinal decompression. 

Existing Evidence Shows Promising Results

Despite there not being enough evidence to establish the efficacy of spinal decompression therapy thoroughly, the evidence that exists is promising. It should also be noted that when comparing spinal decompression therapy to surgery, the risks aren’t even close- surgery is by far more dangerous. 

How Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression Done?

Patients are fully clothed when going through spinal decompression therapy. The doctor fits you with a harness around your hips and a different harness around your torso. You can choose to lie face down or up on a traction table. The doctor controls the table from a computer, tailoring the treatment to your problem areas. 

Spinal decompression therapy sessions typically last 30-45 minutes, and they generally consist of 20-28 treatments for two months. Spinal decompression therapy can also be used in addition to other therapies. These treatments include: 

  • Massage therapy 
  • Electrical stimulation 
  • Chiropractic care 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Ultrasound

Your doctor should diagnose your condition before committing to spinal decompression therapy. However, if they recommend a surgical procedure immediately, you should seek a second opinion just to be safe. Surgery should always be the final option, and some doctors don’t treat it as such. 

Who Should Not Have Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression?

As stated, you should consult your doctor to see if spinal decompression is the correct treatment for you. However, a few risk factors should prevent you from being a spinal decompression therapy candidate. People with the following conditions should not receive nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy. 

  • Spinal fracture 
  • Tumors 
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm 
  • Advanced osteoporosis 
  • Metal implants in the spine

These conditions are all serious, and most require more invasive treatments. 

Is Spinal Decompression Effective?

The medical community has used spinal decompression therapy for years, and numerous testimonials claim it works. It offers an alternative for those suffering from back pain that doctors claim is only reversible through surgical methods. Or worse still, the pain doctors classify as entirely unavoidable. 

This is not to suggest that some conditions don’t require surgery. Cases such as tumors, fractures, and abdominal aortic aneurysms require surgery. However, for the millions suffering from chronic back pain who don’t necessitate surgery, nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy provides a useful alternative. 

Spinal Decompression Methods 

There are two forms of spinal decompression therapy methods, each noninvasive and nonsurgical. One type uses the traction table previously discussed in this article. The other separate the upper body and the lower body, so they operate independently. 

However, spinal decompression tables should not be confused with inversion tables. Inversion tables have sensors that reveal which back muscles are resisting the therapy. As the table identifies where the resistance is, it reduces the amount of pull until the muscles relax. Advanced inversion tables track patient progress and log sessions into their profiles.

Clinical Evidence

The theory behind nonsurgical spinal decompression is widely accepted. However, there is a lack of clinical evidence supporting this theory. Despite there being fewer risks associated with nonsurgical spinal decompression than surgery, there are potential hazards involved. 

Some studies that don’t include control groups conclude spinal decompression’s efficacy. However, the few that exist don’t establish a clear superiority over sham decompression. So, there is insufficient evidence supporting spinal decompression therapy as more effective than less expensive manual treatments for treating back pain or injured herniated disks. 

Conclusion- What Is Spinal Decompression?

Nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy is an excellent alternative to avoid surgery. However, the scientific community has not established its efficacy. Despite nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy being widely accepted as a viable treatment method, we need more conclusive evidence. 

Suppose you suffer from chronic back pain and you don’t have any of the conditions that cause risk with spinal decompression. In that case, you should consult your doctor about receiving spinal decompression therapy. Many doctors resort to surgery all too quickly. Worse, they tell patients there is no remedy to their back pain. Spinal decompression gives these patients hope for relief. 

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