The growing number of spine health problems are now being treated with a special therapy program known as decompression. Under this therapy system, your spine will be stretched using a motorized device like a traction table, with the objective being to relieve leg or back pain.

Definition and Purpose

The therapy, known as spinal decompression, is a nonsurgical procedure and should not be confused with surgical spinal surgery like microdiscectomy and laminectomy. Even though it is nonsurgical by nature, there is sufficient medical evidence proving that it helps relieve pain in the back, neck, and legs.

How the Treatment Works

There are different kinds of decompression devices, but they rely on the same thing, and that’s the spinal traction principle. For many years now spinal traction has been used by health professionals and chiropractors, and it’s proven to be effective. When a patient undergoes regular decompression treatment there is a very high possibility of spine pain caused by degenerating, bulging or herniated discs will be minimized or disappear.

As a type of traction therapy, decompression can bring several benefits to the spine, including immediate pain relief. Furthermore, the treatment produces a negative intradiscal pressure that repositions the bulging or herniated disc and promotes retraction. In addition, the therapy produces a low pressure on the disc which leads to an influx of important nutrients that the disc needs to recover.

The effect of all that won’t be felt overnight, but if you undergo continuous treatment you’ll feel relief. While there are some who contend that it isn’t as effective as surgical procedures, there is evidence to indicate spinal decompression therapy does work.

The Medical and Scientific Evidence

The vast majority of doctors accept the theory behind decompression, and more importantly, there is evidence the treatment does work with very little risk for patients. Several studies with control groups have been done concluding the effectiveness of the therapy is genuine and that it isn’t a scam or due to some sort of placebo effect.

According to health experts, there is sufficient evidence that decompressing is an effective treatment and helps improve the spine’s condition, relieve back pain and herniated discs. In fact, the majority of these clinical trials showed that the positive effects are very pronounced and make for statistically valid conclusions.

Another reason why the therapy has become widely accepted is that clinical trials have been conducted using rigorous methods and have an adequate number of test subjects, have blinding, comparisons with placebo groups, and other stringent control measures.

What Happens During a Decompression Session?

As indicated earlier, the decompression therapy works on the principle that your spine will be relaxed and stretched intermittently and in a specific manner. As the pressure in the disc increases, it is pulled back in place. Decompression also makes it easier for health nutrients to reach your disc.

When you undergo therapy for your lower back, you will be fully clothed and lie on a specially designed table, the lower part of which is movable. A harness will be put around your hips and will be connected to the part of the table close to your feet. To relieve the pain, the upper portion of the table is fixed in place while the lower part where the harness is attached will slide, providing relaxation and traction.

Your position on the table during the therapy will vary depending on the therapy and the table. On some tables, you’ll be in a prone position while on others you will be face up. While the position may vary, at no point will you feel pain during or after the therapy has concluded. What you will feel is your spine is being stretched. If you are asking “what is spinal decompression” and if it hurts, the answer is it’s a therapy that will relieve pain without causing discomfort.

Treatment Cost and Duration

The length of treatment depends entirely on your condition. There are other treatments available but given the fact that many spinal decompression reviews are positive, there’s no reason not to try it. As for the duration each treatment usually lasts half an hour to 45 minutes and spans 4 to 6 weeks, and with regards to cost it can start for as low as $30.

Decompression is very effective on its own, but a spinal decompression table is usually paired with heat therapy, cold therapy, electric stimulation, and others before or during the procedure. While the therapy is good enough as a standalone, you can expect better results if apart from the decompression table you also perform exercises, take health supplements, drink plenty of water and get lots of rest. By combining all of these you’ll experience relief from your backaches. After just a few sessions you should be able to feel relief, and regular back compression therapy will eventually heal your bulging disc.

Indications for Treatment

The indications for treatment are quite broad, and it isn’t just for back pain but also for neck pain, leg pain and various health problems related to your disc. Generally, the therapy is very safe and poses no health risks to anyone who’s reasonably healthy. While it is an effective spine health treatment, stretching is not recommended for pregnant women.

The therapy is also not recommended for those with a broken vertebra or those who have undergone spinal fusion. The therapy also isn’t recommended if you have had multiple surgeries or a life-threatening condition. If you undergo spinal decompression treatment there won’t be any pain or discomfort, and the most you’ll feel is your spine being stretched, but there is no pain.

Does Therapy Really Work?

If you’re among those who haven’t tried this method before it is easy to be skeptical, but the truth is there is plenty of evidence indicating that decompression does relieve spine pain. According to those who have tried, one of the reasons why it is so effective is the way it allows your body to get used to the treatment. Unlike other treatments, the increments are minute so you won’t feel any pain while the vertebrae are being moved.

In fact, many patients who go through the therapy say they do not even feel the vertebrae being moved but just know they don’t feel any more pain. This is in direct contrast with the experience of those who undergo surgery or take all sorts of medications just to relieve the pain. Not only are those more expensive than spinal decompression therapy, but they’re nowhere near as effective.

Furthermore, health experts have determined that surgery and medications carry risks and have many potential side effects. In addition, studies show that the results are very much mixed and there is no conclusive evidence they’re more effective than decompression. Another thing going for spine health therapy is the treatment can be adjusted depending on your condition.

If your condition is severe, the treatment can be held daily and as it improves the sessions are reduced to once a week until you are completely healed. What this means is your body gets the chance to become accustomed to the therapy and at the same time won’t be overly dependent on it. Unlike medications that require you to take them repeatedly, once your condition has been treated, there’s no longer any need to continue with the sessions.

Other Benefits

With spinal decompression becoming more acceptable, more and more clinical trials are being done, proving its health benefits. For instance, cases of people with the brittle bone disease are very low among individuals who have undergone this therapy, and the majority of cases indicate that bulging discs do not recur once the therapy has concluded, an indication of its efficiency.

While the therapy is used primarily to reduce spine pain, it is also effective in treating osteoporosis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and the results are long-lasting. In addition, the treatment also has the approval of the FDA so it is covered by insurance plans, making it different from other pseudoscientific treatments that have no medical or scientific basis.

Another advantage offered by the therapy is the fact that it is easy to get used to. Most people have no trouble getting used to spinal decompression therapy because the tables are very adjustable and flexible. Second, the table designs have improved dramatically to the point that patients no longer feel discomfort even when the angle has been set to 50 degrees or more. In fact, there is evidence to prove that 60 degrees are more than enough to provide relief for the spine and other back problems and injuries.

For many people though, the most attractive aspect of the therapy is the cost, as it is very affordable. The same thing can be said for the tables, making it an ideal option for those who don’t want to spend money on surgery.

Useful Links

Watch a Spinal Decompression Video on Youtube.com