Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression: Is It Right For You?
Some patients have suffered with unrelenting pain for a long time despite trying physical therapy, spinal manipulation or even spinal injections. It can be frustrating, debilitating and depressing to get no relief. Fortunately for some conditions, there is a treatment alternative that has been very successful for these types of patients: non-surgical spinal decompression.
Spinal decompression is a therapy designed with the goal of alleviating pain and promoting healing of the intervertebral disc. It’s recommended for sufferers of many types of back pain, neck pain or nerve pain (like sciatica). Patients with disc (herniated, bulging or degenerated), severe arthritis or stenosis are the ideal patients for this type of therapy.
In a nutshell, spinal decompression stretches the spine by having the patient lie on a traction table (or similar motorized device). The device stretches and relaxes the spine intermittently in a controlled fashion. The thinking behind this approach is that if we create negative pressure within the disc itself, a couple of things can happen. First, the process can retract or reposition the herniated or bulging disc material back into the disc. But also, it can promote the influx of healing nutrients into the disc and surrounding nerve area, which will foster a better environment for healing to occur.
Treatment is conducted right in the office. During this therapy, patients lie on the traction table (either face up or face down, depending on the specific device). A harness is placed around their hips and attached to the feet area of the table. The lower half of the table slides back and forth while the upper portion remains fixed, creating an alternating traction and relaxation. Many patients wonder if this process is painful. The answer is no. If you are having spinal decompression therapy, you should feel no pain during or after the treatment and only a stretching sensation in the spine.
Each treatment takes about 15 minutes. It typically takes between 10-20 treatments over a 4-8 week period to resolve or greatly reduce the pain. With this many treatments involved, the cost keeps some people from seeking out this treatment option.
Like most pain relief therapies that are recommended, other therapies are encouraged to go along with spinal decompression to help it be more effective. This may include physical therapy modalities or chiropractic care. It is also perfectly fine if the patient chooses to just stick to the spinal decompression alone. In most cases patients should also drink up to a half-gallon of water each day, rest (always), participate in a nutritional supplement protocol and perform exercises on their own to increase their strength and mobility.
Getting rid of pain doesn’t happen overnight – so patients that are a good fit for spinal decompression need to be prepared for a many weeks process and a commitment to follow the treatment approach. However, the pros greatly outweigh the cost and time commitment. Pros include: overall reduction in pain and ability to return to daily activities, may start getting relief after five or six treatments, may have reduction in the size of the disc herniation, avoiding surgery and drugs, safe, no pain and little if any side effects.