Spinal decompression therapy involves the stretching of the spine, using a traction table or similar device, with the objective of relieving back pain and/or leg pain.
What is spinal decompression therapy?
This process is known as nonsurgical, spinal decompression therapy (as opposed to surgical spinal decompression like laminectomy and microdiscectomy). This article offers an overview of nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy and its role in treatment of lower back pain and neck pain.
Theory of Spinal Decompression Therapy
Spinal decompression devices use the exact fundamental principle of spinal traction that’s been provided by chiropractors, osteopaths, and other appropriately trained health professionals for many decades. Both traction and decompression therapies are applied together with the aims of relieving pain and promoting the best healing environment for bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs.
Spinal decompression is a type of traction treatment applied to the spine in an attempt to result in several theoretical benefits such as to create a negative intradiscal pressure to promote retraction or repositioning of the herniated or bulging disc material and to produce a reduce pressure in the disc that will cause an influx of recovery nutrients and other substances into the disk.
While the fundamental concept of spinal decompression is broadly accepted as legitimate, there’s a shortage of evidence supporting decompression therapy as being efficacious. There are a number of dangers.
Though some studies that don’t include control groups conclude that decompression treatment is effective, the few that do normally conclude that mechanized spinal decompression is not any greater than sham decompression. Thus, there’s insufficient evidence that spinal decompression therapy is as effective, or even more effective, compared to less expensive manual approaches in treating back pain or injured herniated discs.
An overview of medical literature so far suggests that most clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of spinal decompression therapy or traction were lacking in a couple of regions, such as inadequate numbers of topics to create a statistically valid conclusion, lack of blinding (the individual or provider knows the therapy given), no regard to a placebo group (known as a sham controlled study), or absence of comparison to a treatment substitute. At the time of this report, few clinical studies of spinal decompression therapy have been published in peer reviewed journals.
How Spinal Decompression Works
In nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy, the spine is relaxed and stretched intermittently in a controlled way. The concept is that this process creates a negative intradiscal pressure (pressure inside the disc itself), which is thought to have two possible benefits: pull the herniated or bulging disc material back into the disk; and promote the passage of healing nutrients, into the disc and fosters a better recovery environment.
Spinal Decompression Session
During spinal decompression treatment for the lower spine (lumbar spine), patients stay clothed and lie on a motorized table, the lower half of that which can move. First, a harness is placed round the hips and can be connected to the lower table close to the toes. The top region of the table then remains in a fixed position while the lower part, where the individual is harnessed, slides back and forth to offer the traction and relaxation.
One difference between different decompression therapies is the patient’s place on the table:
- Some devices place the patient in the prone position on the desk, lying down face (e.g. VAX-D)
- Some devices have the patient lying supine, face up (e.g. DRX9000)
The patient shouldn’t feel pain during or after the decompression therapy although they should feel stretch in the spine.
Treatment Collection and Costs
While spinal decompression therapy could be advocated as a potential treatment for a number of lower back pain conditions, just like all lower back pain remedies, it’s the patient’s decision whether or not to have the therapy. Although the risk is reduced, the benefit of these treatments isn’t established.
Decompression therapy generally consists of a series of 15 to 30 treatments, lasting 30 to 45 minutes per day, within a four to four six-week period. Sessions are conducted at the practitioner’s office. The price of each session generally ranges from $30 to $200, meaning that a recommended series of remedies will generally cost from $450 to $6,000. Although insurers may cover grip, decompression therapy isn’t usually allowed although they are almost the same.
Sessions may include additional treatment modalities, such as electric stimulation, ultrasound, and cold and/or heat treatment applied during or after the process. Recommendations may also incorporate drinking up to some half-gallon of water per day, remainder, utilizing nutritional supplements, or performing exercises at home to boost strength and mobility. Research and find chiropractors in your area that could help relieve your back and neck discomfort.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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