Chronic back pain can really take a toll on your daily life. If you have already tried non-invasive approaches to help treat your back pain but are not experiencing long-term relief then you may want to talk to your chiropractor about minimally-invasive spinal decompression therapy. Decompression therapy has been known to help with back pain and conditions like sciatica, herniated discs, and back or neck injuries that affect the nerves. Your doctor may recommend decompression therapy in addition to treatments like chiropractic care and physical therapy to help provide a range of non-invasive approaches to pain management. Here’s how to know whether or not decompression therapy is right for you:
Understanding Spinal Decompression Therapy
Spinal decompression therapy is a type of treatment that utilizes motorized traction to gently stretch the spine. This type of therapy involves lying down on a computerized table that your doctor operates. You remain fully clothed during decompression therapy and there are no medications or anesthesia required. An average treatment session for decompression therapy may last around 30 minutes and your doctor will prescribe a certain number of treatments over the course of a few weeks or months.
Benefits of Spinal Decompression Therapy
The goals of decompression therapy are to gently stretch the spine, reposition the spine, and alleviate pressure on the spine. When your spine has been out of alignment for some time it may be resistant to manual therapies, which is where decompression therapy comes into play. This form of gentle stretching allows your doctor to use a computerized decompression table to take pressure off of your spine while also adjusting the spine into a healthier position. When your spine is properly aligned it is able to function optimally, which can also improve circulation to the area so your muscles and joints can receive healthy nutrients.
Common Health Concerns Treated with Decompression Therapy
Chronic Back and Neck Pain
Chronic back and neck pain can affect your ability to make it through your day and make some previously enjoyable activities so painful that you can no longer participate. When manual therapies have not provided the lasting relief you were looking for, your next step in minimally invasive treatment approaches is decompression therapy. Whether your chronic pain is a result of a previous injury or current illness, decompression therapy can help take the pressure off your spine and make room for oxygen-rich blood flow and nutrients to reach your vertebrae.
Osteoarthritis is a type of joint disease that occurs when the flexible tissue called cartilage starts to break down in your joints. This can cause pain in your knees, lower back, neck, and hips, and affect your range of motion in these areas. When this soft, flexible tissue in your spine starts to break down, the bones in your spine can start to rub against one another and cause serious pain. Decompression therapy can help stretch the spine to allow discs to realign with vertebrae and remove barriers for oxygen and nutrients to reach these areas.
A herniated disc occurs when one of the spinal discs that separate vertebrae slips out of place and puts pressure on nearby nerves and soft tissues. These soft, flexible, and spongy discs usually help absorb the shock from everyday activities, so when they are out of place it can put significant stress on your spine and cause the painful experience of bones rubbing together. A herniated disc that is compressing a nearby nerve may also send uncomfortable neurological symptoms like pain, tingling, and numbness into your extremities. Decompression therapy helps to take pressure off the spine so it can gently and safely realign, and so these discs can retract into their proper position.
Pinched nerves can occur for a number of reasons, including from the pressure of a herniated disc. Other pinched nerves may occur due to injury, inflammation, and swelling around nerve roots in the body, like the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is located in the lower back and when this nerve is pinched or compressed, it can send very painful, uncomfortable tingling and numbness through your hip and buttocks and into your leg and foot. Spinal decompression therapy can help take the pressure off the sciatic nerves so you no longer feel this type of pain and discomfort.
If you are considering decompression therapy, talk to your doctor about what is causing your pain and whether or not this is a good treatment for you. Those who are pregnant or have any fractures, tumors, or spinal implants are not good candidates for spinal decompression. However, many people without these conditions can experience lasting relief from this type of treatment.