Spinal Decompression Therapy and Mechanical Spinal Traction

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal Decompression Therapy is FDA cleared and has been clinically proven with up to an 86% success rate for pain associated with herniated, bulging or degenerative discs, even after failed surgery. It is a non-surgical, motorized traction therapy for the relief of back and leg pain or neck and arm pain.

Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine, cycling through distraction and relaxation phases. These changes in force and position through the two cycling phases create a vacuum effect between the spinal vertebrae. This vacuum effect helps retract the protruding disc inward to a more aligned state and takes the pressure off the nerves and other structures in your spine. In addition, it helps promote the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the discs, which allow them to heal more quickly.

Who can this treatment help?

  • Low Back Pain or Sciatica – Pain in the low back with associated weakness, numbness or tingling that extends down the leg and possibly into the foot.
  • Neck Pain and Arm Pain – Pain in the neck with associated weakness, numbness or tingling that extends down the arm and possible into the hand.
  • Bulging or Herniated discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease – When the discs dehydrate due to aging, wear and tear, or injury.
  • Facet Syndrome – Injury to the back part of the vertebral joints which can be due to whiplash injuries, back-bend or lifting injuries, or wear-and-tear due to Sway Back posture.
  • Radiculopathy – Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots due to compression on the spinal nerve root as it exits the side of the spinal canal.
  • Spinal Stenosis – A type of arthritic condition found in any part of the spine that puts pressure on the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Spinal cord compression may also result in weakness in the extremities, loss of sensation, headaches, and difficulty walking.

The science behind Spinal Decompression Therapy:

The most important action of Spinal Decompression Therapy is the vacuum effect that is created. From a mechanical standpoint, disc material that has migrated, protruded or herniated outside the normal confines of the normal disc fibers can cause pain and can often times press on the confines of the spinal nerves or spinal cord. The 'compression' that we will speak of often occurs more easily with increased mechanical stress and degenerative processes which can lead to disc tears and desiccation (drying out of the disc). Decreasing the pressure on the disc from the decompression therapy (from axial translation it provides) means the compressed disc can re-hydrate itself with water and nutrients through the vertebrae. This increase in hydration relieves pain and stimulates healing. It is very important to note that research shows even if the status of the disc does not change on MRI/CT that relief can still be achieved in many cases.

In addition to the affects upon the disc itself, the protruding disc can have an effect on the overall structure of the spine. From this decompression technique, the protruding disc retracts back to its original position, which sits directly between the vertebrae. This allows the space between the vertebrae to be restored. This maximal distance between the vertebrae is needed to allow enough space for the spinal nerves (which also exit between each level of vertebrae) to freely occupy some of the space without being compressed either by the protruding disc or the 'too-close-for-comfort' vertebrae.

Without this type of decompression treatment, it is impossible to mend or "rehydrate" the disc and return to its normal, elastic state. Spinal Decompression Therapy is a simple approach to making the back healthier without surgery, injections or medications.

What to expect when having Spinal Decompression Therapy at our Office:

You are fully clothed during spinal decompression therapy. You will lie face up on a computer-controlled table. If your problem is in the low back, the doctor fits you with a harness around your pelvis and another around your trunk. If your problem is in your neck, then your head will rest on a special headrest elevated to a certain level to accommodate for the curvature of your spine. The doctor will operate the computer attached to the table, customizing the treatment to fit your specific needs.

The computer will control the variations in the traction allowing for spinal decompression and eliminating muscle guarding and subsequent compression. The programmed patterns will often ramp up and down in the amount of axial distraction, allowing for higher levels of spinal decompression and disc re-hydration. Treatments specific to Spinal Decompression can last 8-30 minutes, depending on the condition and severity.

In addition to the Spinal Decompression Therapy, the Doctors will also have a comprehensive treatment plan designed for you and your abilities. They may include Electrical Stimulation, Ultrasound, Soft Tissue Therapy, including Myofascial Release, Chiropractic Mobilization, and eventually an Exercise Program for the supporting muscles to be strengthened and reactivated to stabilize the spine once again.

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