Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression: What Is It And Do You Need It?

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Spinal decompression therapy uses the same principles as traction therapy to relieve back pain. Both use negative pressure to promote healing of pinched nerves and bulging or herniated discs in your spine. Negative pressure "decompresses" the spine's vertebrae and allows the body's natural nutrients, spinal fluid, and blood supply to flow back into the discs. When those vertebrae become inflamed or bulge out of their normal position, often excruciating back pain ensues. Many chiropractic patients feel that spinal decompression machines and tangent therapies can help relieve the pain.

How does this happen when your spine's discs are made of bone?

Your vertebrae are more than bone. They are made up of cartilage and fluid connected by ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue. This provides the gel-like cushioning between each of the 33 vertebrae that make up your spine. This is why a healthy back can run, jump, bend, and twist without pain and with a full range of motion—thus acting like a shock absorber for your body.

When the fluid that cushions each vertebrae lessens due to overuse, degenerative spine disease, or osteoarthritis, your spinal discs can compress, leaving them with no cushion. They also may herniate or bulge. Gravity is not your best friend when this happens. Gravity becomes a pain in this case and you may need spinal decompression treatment on a decompression machine.

What does the decompression machine do to relieve back pain?

The spinal decompression machine gently inverts and stretches your spine, causing the gravitational pressure on your back to become negative pressure. This can relieve back pain over time by taking the pressure off or retracting your back's discs. Many chiropractors use the machine as a viable holistic alternative to back surgery.

According to WebMD, here's what happens during your nonsurgical spinal decompression appointment:

  1. You are fully clothed during therapy. Your chiropractor fits you with two harnesses, one around your pelvis and one around the middle of your body.
  2. You lay face up or face down on the computerized table. Your chiropractor will set the machine according the assessment of your condition.
  3. You may need five to seven weeks worth of treatment. That comes to 20 to 28 visits lasting 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Your chiropractor may use complementary therapies along with spinal decompression like electrical current therapy (also known as tens therapy), ultrasound waves, and hot/cold therapy.

Who Cannot Use Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Not everyone with back pain can use spinal decompression therapy. If you have any spinal fracture or tumors, you won't be able to utilize it. Also if you have metal implants in your spine, have advanced osteoporosis, or an abdominal aortic aneurysm, you will have to find alternative therapy or consider surgery.

For more information, contact local professionals like Physical Rehabilitation Centers.