When something’s wrong in the human body, there’s not always a quick fix. Many people suffer from back pain – in fact, 31 million Americans are experiencing pain in their lower back at any given time. But when they seek treatment, they often find temporary relief from symptoms when what they want is long-term healing.
Patients who suffer from the chronic pain associated with bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs may benefit from treatment using a spinal decompression table. This type of pain, which can manifest as back or neck pain itself as well as associated pain in the arms and legs, may have already been treated by traditional traction methods or even by spinal surgery to limited improvement. In these cases, a spinal decompression table that uses computerized sensors to perform stretching actions on the spine and promote healing can be uniquely effective.
But what is a spinal decompression table, and how it can be used to treat patients who have not been able to find relief in other ways?
What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Spinal decompression therapy, also known as non-surgical spinal decompression, is a practice that utilizes spinal decompression tables to relieve pain by creating a scenario in which painful disc tissue is able to move back into place and heal, alleviating the pain this condition causes.
Spinal decompression therapy aims to help patients who suffer from debilitating pain due to bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs. It can also be used for the pain management and treatment of many causes of sciatica, injured or diseased spinal nerve roots, and worn spinal joints.
The therapy itself works to stretch the spine, using a decompression table or other device, in order to create negative pressure and space for the disc fluid to move back into place. The ultimate goal of spinal decompression is to relieve the patient’s chronic back, arm, neck, and/or leg pain, and to heal the source of said pain.
How It Works
In nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy, the spine is stretched and relaxed intermittently in a controlled manner. The theory is that this process creates a negative intradiscal pressure (pressure within the disc itself), which is thought to have two potential benefits:
- Pulls the herniated or bulging disc material back into the disc
- Promotes the passage of healing nutrients, into the disc and fosters a better healing environment.
During spinal decompression therapy for the low back (lumbar spine), patients remain clothed and lie on a motorized table, the lower half of which can move.
- A harness is placed around the hips and is attached to the lower table near the feet.
- The upper part of the table remains in a fixed position while the lower part, to which the patient is harnessed, slides back and forth to provide the traction and relaxation.
One difference between various decompression therapies is the patient’s position on the table:
- Some devices place the patient in the prone position on the table, lying face down
- Some devices have the patient lying supine, face up
The patient should not feel pain during or after the decompression therapy although they should feel stretch in the spine.
Decompression therapy typically consists of a series of 15 to 30 treatments, lasting 30 to 45 minutes each, over a four to six-week period. Sessions are conducted in the practitioner’s office.
Sessions may include additional treatment modalities, such as electric stimulation, ultrasound, and cold and/or heat therapy applied during or after the procedure.
Recommendations may also include drinking up to a half-gallon of water per day, rest, utilizing nutritional supplements, and/or performing exercises at home to improve strength and mobility.