Spinal Decompression Therapy is a computer-aided technology that has revolutionized the treatment of chronic low back pain and neck pain; commonly occurring due to herniated, slipped, or degenerated discs. It is most commonly used for the treatment of Sciatica (leg pain).
Decompression can be done both; surgically as well as non-surgically. Surgical Spinal Decompression includes Laminectomy and Microdiscectomy. In simple terms, it would be safe to say that Spinal Decompression Therapy is a safe and effective alternative to surgical decompression to provide relief from back pain.
Something About Spinal Decompression Therapy
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy is a motorized traction therapy that stretches the spine gently; resulting in a change of force and position of the spine and turn relieves the spinal discs and nerves of the pressure causing the pain in the first place.
It creates a negative intradiscal pressure which promotes the repositioning of the herniated disc material. It may help reduce pain and inflammation in the lower back and prevent surgery from being necessary, especially if the back pain is stress-induced. This is of great benefit for people having chronic back pain that worsens with age.
As people age, the discs that sit between the bones of the spine lose fluid and as a result, the spine becomes compressed and there is less protection between each bone. The gentle forces of Spinal Decompression Therapy cause the spine to de-stress causing a lowered pressure in the disc.
This leads to improved blood flow and an influx of healing nutrients and their exchange to the injured area.
In non-surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy, the spine is stretched and relaxed intermittently using the accurate calculations of the computer to generate just the right amount of tension to achieve optimal results.
When the spine is stretched by the machine, fluids fill the discs that have been losing fluids that repair the spinal discs.
Spinal Decompression Therapy Program may also include other adjunctive treatment options to help accelerate the results of the therapy such as:
- Heat therapy
- Cold therapy
About Success Rate Of Spinal Decompression Therapy
Reviews of recent popular medical literature revealed that the clinical results of Spinal Decompression Therapy have been effective in over 75% of the people receiving this treatment and most patients find long-term relief and effective management of their pain upon completion of the entire program of treatments.
A Hospital in Italy named Santa Corona published a study in which they reviewed non-surgical decompression traction. Results showed that 78% of the 41 patients who completed the therapy reported improvement and a better quality of life.
This therapy has been reported to enjoy a success rate of up to 71% to 89%
What Are The Risks Factors Of Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Just like any other procedure, Spinal Decompression Therapy comes with its own set of risk factors despite it being a minimally invasive procedure.
To avoid these risks, the chiropractic doctor may ask the patient to undergo multiple screening tests including a physical exam, MRI, and X-Rays to determine if Spinal Decompression treatments are applicable for the patient.
Spinal Decompression Therapy should not be used
- For pregnant women because of the risk of pressure on the abdomen
- For patients who have spinal instability, such as severe osteoporosis or degeneration of the spine
- For patients who have had prior spinal surgery with implantation of screws, metal plates, or similar hardware unless the bone is fused
- For patients with severe nerve damage
- For patients with metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread to the bones)
- For patients with Grade 3 and 4 Spondylolisthesis
- For patients with a history of aortic aneurysm
- For patients suffering from disc space infections
What Are The Pros Of Spinal Decompression Therapy?
With every passing day, Spinal Decompression Therapy is gaining popularity worldwide at a lightning pace. Considering this, it is not surprising to discover that the benefits of Spinal Decompression Therapy can be observed on multiple levels.
- Increases the flow of blood and promotes nutrient supply into the disc
- Decreases the intradiscal pressure
- Reduces compression and pinching of nerves
- Eases disc rehydration
- Prevents the advancement of the herniation
- A general reduction in pain and better chances of resuming daily activities
- Improves spinal mobility
- Prevents guarding of muscles
- Plays a role in developing core strength
- Improves joint flexibility
- Boosts the immune system
- Prevents new injuries
- Lowers stress levels
Apart from those above, other benefits that are obtained from Spinal Decompression Therapy comprises of the following:
- Spinal decompression makes the spine less susceptible to degeneration and breakdown
- It is a non-invasive treatment that does not require any medication and is not very time consuming
- It provides fast results and many patients have reported pain relief after their first session
- This procedure is much faster than spinal surgery of any kind and does not have the recovery time associated with surgery either
- Instead of temporarily treating the pain with pain medication, spinal decompression provides natural pain relief by reducing the amount of pressure on the spine. This means that the back pain is not just temporarily resolved till the pill lasts, it is eradicated by dealing with the source of the issue
- The patients undergoing Spinal Decompression Therapy do not have to worry about addictive painkillers or side effects
- When compared to surgery, it is an extremely safe option
- There is no risk of allergic reactions to anesthesia and infections
- The possibility of infections is eradicated through this minimally invasive therapy
What The Cons Of Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Most patients do not experience any major side effects. The most commonly reported side effect of this therapy is a dull, achy soreness for the first week or two as the body becomes accustomed to being stretched and decompressed. In Spinal decompression, the muscles are stretched in a lengthening direction which the body is not used to.
Rarely, Spinal traction has been reported to cause:
- Muscle spasms
- Shooting pains down the arm and leg
Other drawbacks of spinal decompression therapy include the following:
- Lasting relief may not be experienced until the entire therapy is completed, which may take four to six weeks
- Spinal decompression therapy may get expensive because the equipment is very costly and in most countries, insurance companies do not cover the cost of this therapy
- This therapy program has been declared to be too time-consuming as the protocol may require as many as four visits per week
- There is a theory that it may not be effective in terms of fixing the root cause. Some incidents have been reported where the pain subsided for a certain period before resurfacing
To avoid any discomfort, the system has emergency stop switches for both; the patient and the operator. These switches terminate the treatment immediately if the patient experiences any increase in pain or any sort of discomfort during the treatment.
Apart from the sessions, the Spinal Decompression Therapy Program involves guiding the patient through multiple other ways to facilitate pain loss which helps the patient cover the road to pain-free life much faster. The most common of these include dietary supplements (multivitamins), increased water intake, healthy exercise, etc.
Overall, Spinal Decompression Therapy is considered pretty safe and comfortable. So much so, that the patients usually sleep through the session.
Author Michael Kaliko DC