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Spinal Decompression

Spinal Decompression Therapy

If you have lasting back pain and other related symptoms, you know how disruptive to your life it can be. You may be unable to think of little else except finding relief. Some people turn to spinal decompression therapy -- either surgical or nonsurgical. Here's what you need to know to help decide whether it might be right for you.

What Is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression?

Non-Surgical spinal decompression is a type of motorized traction that helps relieve back pain. Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine. That changes the force and position of the spine. This change takes pressure off the spinal disks, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine, by creating negative pressure in the disc. As a result, bulging or herniated disks retract, taking pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. This in turn, helps promote movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disks so they can heal.

Doctors have used Non-Surgical spinal decompression in an attempt to treat:

  • Back or neck pain or sciatica, which is pain, weakness, or tingling that extends down the leg
  • Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
  • Worn spinal joints (called posterior facet syndrome)
  • Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots

When used in conjuction with other therapies, such as these listed below, non-surgical spinal decompression is a very effective modality in helping alleviate and manage back pain. Combined therapies include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Limited rest
  • Steroid injections
  • Bracing
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture

How Is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Done?

Wear comfortable clothes on your treatment days as you are fully clothed during spinal decompression therapy. The doctor fits you with a harness around your pelvis and another around your trunk. You either lie face down on a computer-controlled table. A doctor operates the computer, customizing treatment to your specific needs.

Treatment may last 15-30 minutes and you may require 20 to 28 treatments over five to seven weeks. Before or after therapy, you may have other types of treatment, such as:

  • Electrical stimulation (electric current that causes certain muscles to contract)
  • Ultrasound (the use of sound waves to generate heat and promote healing)
  • Heat or cold therapy

Risks Associated with Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression? The risks for this therapy are very low to almost non-existent. There is no down time during or after your treatment sessions. You may experience sore muscles but this is kept under control with ice or heat therapy. Most patients that have sore muscles after their treatment session (only about 20%) compare it to muscle soreness that one may experience after exercising. 

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