Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression


Should you do spinal decompression therapy?

If you have been having persistent low back pain, you may feel as though you have tried everything. Many of us who suffer from this long-lasting and debilitating condition have tired therapy from physiotherapy, massage therapists, chiropractors and osteopaths to no avail. It leaves us to wonder if we will ever find any relief. Another option that is less known is non-surgical spinal decompression therapy. Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy is a therapy which helps you stretch out your back and tries to decrease stress on your joints. The premise behind spinal decompression therapy is that by inducing traction though a highly computerized machine onto your lower back, spinal decompression helps the decrease pressure on the disks between your vertebrae. This is important because people who have disc bulges or a disc herniation, it can help them decrease pressure on nerves and reduce symptoms. By understanding how and what spinal decompression is, it will allow you to make an informed decision on whether you should use spinal decompression therapy.


What are the indications of non-invasive spinal decompression therapy?


Spinal decompression therapy may be helpful if you have any of the following conditions:

Sciatic pain- this is pain which travels down the back of your leg. Sciatic pain may also cause weakness
Bulged disks or disc herniations- People who have one of these two conditions usually present with low back pain which can potentially run down your leg
DDD (Degenerative disk disease)- This is when the disks in your spinal column have been worn out and are not helping your spine the way they used to
Injured nerves- Some people who have had nerve injuries may also benefit from spinal decompression therapy.


Avoid Spinal Decompression therapy if you have any of the following conditions:

Fractures (broken bones)- If you have spinal fractures, conducting non-invasive spinal decompression can have negative consequences. Make sure you let your healthcare practitioner know of any fractures before you undergo this procedure|

Tumors- If you have any tumours of the spine, non-surgical spinal decompression should be avoided.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)- An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is a very serious condition in which one of the blood vessels in your stomach region becomes enlarged. If this ruptures it can cause severe and potentially fatal bleeding.

Osteoporotic Disease- If your bones are weak and you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis it is advised to avoid non-surgical spinal decompression.

Pregnancy- If you are pregnant avoid spinal decompression therapy


What does a typical treatment consist of?

A typical treatment of non-invasive spinal decompression consists of you being secured to a spinal decompression table. The practitioner that is going to be delivering the therapy should be trained and knowledgeable in how to use the equipment. The treating provider will put you on a harness around your lower body, the upper part of the table does not move and the lower part of the move will move back and forth to give you the traction. You will then lie on the table as the health care provider adjusts the amount of traction that your spine will go through.  A usual treatment lasts anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. You will feel pressure applied to your lower back and will feel as though you are being “stretched out”. If at any point you feel uncomfortable or in increased amounts of pain let the practitioner know and they will either adjust the settings or take you off of the table.

How much does Spinal Decompression cost?

Depending on where you go to get this therapy the cost of a single decompression therapy is usually anywhere from $60-$200. Typically, the number of visits required will range from 10 visits to 30 visits depending on your condition. Thus the cost of the spinal decompression will vary based on your specific case.

Is there evidence showing that this therapy is effective?

There has been much research conducted on the efficacy of spinal decompression therapy. One study conducted by Glonis T et al showed that out of 219 patients, 92% of these patients showed relief with this therapy. Although the literature is inconclusive, many patients have found very good results and spinal decompression has helped improve their symptoms drastically.


What makes this type of treatment differ from the other types of traction?

When you are getting manual traction (done by a practitioner with their hands) the body tends to relegate to pulling in the opposite way. The mechanisms within the spinal decompression unit have technology which helps your body avoid doing this. Each time you undergo therapy the physical therapist or Doctor is able to adjust the settings of the equipment to help optimize results for you. By being able to overcome these tendencies this therapy is different and more effective than just manual traction.


If I'm receiving spinal decompression, should I still receive other treatment?

Although this treatment may help you feel much better it does not mean that it is the only thing you should. It is always important to continue to follow the instructions that your treating provider has given you. Furthermore, it is very important to continue to exercise and complete any strengthening or stretching programs that you have been given. Also if there are other methods of relief that you have found, such as chiropractic care, or relaxation techniques it is a great idea to continue those therapies. Once again it is always a great idea to speak with your healthcare providers about any questions related to concurrent treatments.


When should I consider Surgical Decompression over Non-Surgical Decompression?

This is a very good question to ask your family doctor, your physical therapist or perhaps even your surgeon. There are many factors to consider when you are deciding whether to have spinal decompression surgery or whether to try non-surgical spinal decompression. Some of the most important things to consider are the severity of your pain, the duration of your pain, whether you are a candidate for non-surgical decompression along with your overall physical condition. Before deciding to undertake a surgical procedure it as always a great idea to consult with your orthopaedic and spinal specialists. Ask your family doctor his opinion and follow that up with a surgical consult, all of your healthcare providers should be working in synchrony to provide you with the best advice and treatment.


In conclusion, should you do Spinal Decompression Therapy?

After understanding the facts, you can see that non-surgical spinal decompression can be a valuable method in treating your low back pain. You must take many things into account when deciding to undergo this type of therapy such as if you are a suitable candidate, are there any contraindications and what the cost of therapy is. Spinal decompression therapy has helped many people regain control of their lives and decrease their pain. If you have tried various other methods of treatment and have not received the results you had expected, you may want to try spinal decompression. Lastly, always make sure to make an informed decision and always consult with trained and licensed healthcare providers before commencing this promising new therapy option.


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