What is Spinal Decompression Therapy? How Does it Help?

Posted by Andy Thomas ● February 10, 2020

Back pain is something most of us experience at some point in our lives. One thing your chiropractor might recommend is non-surgical spinal decompression therapy. This is a relatively new therapy that can help relieve back pain from a number of causes.

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal decompression therapy is a gentle form of traction, done using a spinal decompression table. It gently stretches the spine, with the goal of taking pressure off the spinal discs.

This release of pressure can help promote the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your spinal discs, improving healing. It may allow a herniated disc to retract into its normal position. The overall goal is to improve the healing environment and encourage your discs to recover from damage or wear and tear. The therapy is non-surgical and non-invasive.

Generally each treatment lasts 15 to 30 minutes, and you will usually need at least 12 treatments, sometimes more. Spinal decompression therapy is generally part of a holistic treatment program that might include manual treatments, electrical muscle stimulation, heat or cold therapy, and massage. After an exam, your chiropractor will be able to recommend the best treatment for your back pain, based on the cause. In many cases, spinal decompression therapy can help you delay or avoid back surgery. Research is ongoing into the overall benefits of spinal decompression therapy. The therapy is not, however, invasive or painful.

What is a Spinal Decompression Table?

Spinal decompression therapy is conducted with the help of a spinal decompression table. The table is computerized and uses sensors to adjust the amount of stretch to give maximum benefit. The sensors detect when the patient is resisting the pull and allow the table to "back off" until the patient relaxes. Modern decompression tables are in two halves, which can move independently from one another to provide stretch to the spine. You will lie face up on the table, secured with a harness around your upper and lower body.

The table will be programmed by your doctor or a technician to provide the exact pull (which can be as little as 5 pounds or as much as 100 for larger patients). Some tables even store a profile for each patient so the technician only has to pull it up to access the specific treatment needed. This precise computerized measuring and sensing can make spinal decompression therapy more effective than manual adjustment.

What Are the Benefits of Spinal Decompression?

Spinal decompression is used to treat chronic back pain, especially if it is not responding to other therapies such as manual manipulation or physical therapy. Spinal decompression therapy is not recommended for all patients, especially those who are pregnant or have spinal implants or fusion, tumors in the spine, or fractures.

If spinal decompression is recommended, there is generally not a huge amount of relief from a single session, but rather a progressive improvement over the treatment. Results can, of course, vary, but most patients experience back pain relief and a noticeable reduction in pressure on the discs. This can encourage healing and help avoid a recurrence of the problem.

What Conditions are Treated with Spinal Decompression?

Spinal decompression therapy is good for a number of conditions, including:

Primarily, spinal decompression therapy is used for problems with your discs, and can relieve symptoms and help you avoid having to have surgery. Although spinal decompression therapy can't cure degenerative disc disease, it can reduce pain and slow the progression of the disease significantly.

If you have chronic back pain and want to find out if spinal decompression therapy can help you, contact Village Chiropractic today.

Topics: back pain, chiropractor treatments