If you’re suffering from chronic pain associated with issues with the discs of your spine, chances are you’ve come across spinal decompression when searching for treatment options. Most often offered by chiropractors using a specialized table, this form of spinal decompression is referred to as non-surgical spinal decompression. If you’re looking for non-surgical treatment options you may be wondering if spinal decompression is right for you, so let’s take a look at what spinal decompression is and who may benefit from it.
What is Spinal Decompression?
Spinal decompression is an FDA-approved treatment for a variety of conditions stemming from the spine (listed below). In most cases, spinal decompression is performed with the use of a decompression table that creates a small vacuum force between vertebrae using gentle pulling. The vacuum created “sucks” the bulging disc/herniation, in incremental amounts to relieve the pressure on the nerves.
Spinal decompression is not a “one-and-done” treatment, it’s a very non-invasive and gentle procedure that tends to produce small incremental changes that will add up over time to help relieve symptoms and allow your body to heal.
What Does Spinal Decompression Treat?
Spinal decompression is typically used to treat the following conditions:
- Bulging discs
- Herniated discs
- Pinched nerves
- Degenerative disc disease
- Worn spinal joints
- Conditions impact the nerve root (injury or disease)
If you think spinal decompression may be right for you and talk to your chiropractor, they will be able to assess whether your symptoms and condition would benefit from this type of treatment.
How is Spinal Decompression Performed?
Spinal decompression is often performed by chiropractors with additional training in spinal decompression and the use of decompression tables such as the practitioners at ProWellness Family Chiropractic.
After a thorough assessment, you will be strapped to the decompression table – face up or face down depending on what area is being treated. The decompression table is computerized allowing your practitioner to adjust and customize the treatment for your specific needs. The pieces of the table will begin to move apart, gently elongating the spine. In between relaxation, a personalized amount of force (poundage) will be applied to the area – this combined with the gentle pull is what helps create the vacuum.
Treatments can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes and patients usually require at least 12 treatments, typically more before full results are expected. A number of treatments will depend on a variety of factors including the condition being treated, your chiropractor will give you an estimate at your initial assessment.
What Are The Risks?
Spinal decompression is FDA approved and considered generally safe for most individuals. However, there are some instances where spinal decompression should not be performed, they include:
- If the patient is pregnant
- If the patient has spinal fusion or implants/artificial discs
- Cancer (in particular metastasized cancers)
- If the patient has any indication of (or known) tumors on the spine or broken vertebrae
If you undergo spinal decompression and experience pain (increased beyond normal or in other areas) during or after treatment, or you experience worsening neck or arm pain, treatment should be discontinued.
Those undergoing spinal decompression may find that they experience mild side effects as they adjust to the treatment such as a dull ache or soreness near the area being treated. Those with bulging or herniated discs may experience some increased pain or experience off and on pain and relief for the first few weeks of treatment, but this is not always the case. If you are concerned, speak with your chiropractor and they will advise you on whether or not you should continue treatment
What Options Do I Have Beyond Spinal Decompression?
If you do not find relief from spinal decompression therapy or you would prefer to explore other options before undergoing spinal decompression, there are alternative treatment options such as:
- Spinal decompression surgery and other surgical options were indicated
- NSAID pain medication
- Steroid injections
- Chiropractic care – traditional manipulations
Depending on the severity of your condition and symptoms, certain alternatives may be more beneficial than others. Your doctor or chiropractor should be able to advise you on the treatments and lifestyle changes that may be most helpful for you.
Spinal decompression can be an enticing treatment for those experiencing chronic pain associated with various conditions such as a bulging or herniated disc, especially when other treatments have been unsuccessful. Before beginning spinal decompression therapy make sure you speak with your doctor and chiropractor to ensure that this treatment is right for you. Spinal decompression therapy should always be performed by a chiropractor with training in spinal decompression and the proper use of the decompression table.
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