Spinal decompression therapy, also known as non-surgical spinal decompression, is a practice that utilizes spinal decompression tables to relieve pain by creating a scenario in which bulging or herniated disc tissue is able to move back into place and heal, alleviating the pain this condition causes.
Spinal decompression therapy aims to help patients who suffer from debilitating pain due to bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs. It can also be used for the pain management and treatment of many causes of sciatica, injured or diseased spinal nerve roots, and worn spinal joints.
The therapy itself works to stretch the spine with the help of using a spinal decompression table, in order to create negative pressure and space within the disc to allow disc fluid to move back into place. This creates an environment in which the disc can receive more nutrients and therefore heal itself more quickly and effectively. The ultimate goal of spinal decompression therapy is to relieve the patient’s chronic back, arm, neck, and/or leg pain, and to heal the source of said pain.
A patient’s initial visit should determine whether he or she would be a good candidate for decompression therapy. An initial analysis should include a review of the patient’s history, including any available imaging such as x-rays and/or MRI results. If the patient is a good candidate, the doctor can put together a recommended decompression protocol designed for that specific patient and diagnosis.
Spinal decompression tables use computerized technology to create negative intradiscal pressure in the spine. A decompression table has two parts which move independently of one another. During setup, a spinal decompression technician chooses a decompression program that is best suited to the patient’s needs. The right program for an individual will depend on that person’s diagnosis as well as how they have responded to previous treatments.
As the decompression table stretches the spine, negative pressure is created within the spinal discs, which can result in the retraction or repositioning of the disc material, leading to pain relief. In addition, the lower pressure within the disc can cause an influx of healing nutrients to the disc, to promote further relief even when the patient is not on the table.
One of the hurdles to effective decompression with manual techniques is the fact that the body naturally resists the stretch, known as muscle guarding. With a decompression table, sensors can detect when the patient’s muscles are guarding against the stretch and release the tension, ensuring that the maximum decompression is accomplished.
Wahida has recently given birth and suffering from numbness down the right leg and lower back pain. We identified that the issue was due to nerve compression at L5/S1 and implemented Decompression Therapy apart of her treatment. Decompression Therapy will help to alleviate Wahidas nerve tension by creating a vacuum pressure to the disc affected.
Anyone suffering from back pain related to bulging or herniated discs may be a candidate for decompression therapy, but only a doctor of chiropractic or other healthcare practitioner specializing in the musculoskeletal system and trained as a decompression technician can make this determination upon assessing a patient. While many patients come to spinal decompression therapy after they have failed to find relief from other treatments, including surgery, this is not a prerequisite.
There are some contraindications for this type of therapy, including:
It is critical that patients are fully examined and a medical and health history taken prior to beginning treatment with a decompression table.
As with any healthcare issue, spinal decompression therapy with a decompression table is not the only option for herniated discs, facet syndrome, or other back pain issues. Indeed, many patients who benefit from spinal decompression therapy do so only after other options have failed to give them relief.
Following are some alternatives to spinal decompression therapy using a decompression table:
Depending on the patient and their condition, it is possible that these alternatives may not be effective. Only by knowing the patient's complete health history and doing a thorough evaluation of their current condition is it possible to recommend on a treatment approach.
Some healthcare providers who practice spinal decompression therapy will also prescribe other concurrent therapies, such as heat or cold therapy, exercise, stretching, nutritional plans, and more, which may help the patient achieve better outcomes.
Single decompression therapies cost $110 at Live Well Chiropractic, however we do have care plans catered to individual needs averaging around $70 per session dependent on recommendations.
The correct spinal decompression protocol for an individual will depend on the symptoms he or she is experiencing. Typically, spinal decompression patients can expect to go through at least 12 sessions on the decompression table, though depending on the patient’s diagnosis and response to the treatment, more sessions may be required. In addition, follow-up treatments may be prescribed as needed to manage pain.
Each spinal decompression table session is approximately 20 minutes in duration. During this session, the patient is strapped into the table using a pelvic harness. For lumbar decompression, the lower portion of the body will move to gently stretch and relax the spine based on computerized algorithms designed to maximize the stretch and minimize the body’s resistance to that stretch. For decompression of cervical herniated discs, the upper portion of the body will move.
Here at Live Well we use the Hills Decompression table, which is the leading table in regards to decompression technology.
The Hill DT spinal decompression table employs sophisticated load sensor technology which constantly measures and monitors the treatment force and patient-resistance of every treatment. At a rate of over 10,000 pulses per millimeter, the table senses the patient’s approaching threshold and reduces the pull, allowing the table to provide low-force, smooth decompression in a completely different class from cable-based systems.
The Hill DT table's technology means dramatically better outcomes because the patient experiences far less muscle-guarding than with other designs. In most cases, the patient is able to painlessly leave the table within seconds and with very little soreness to follow.
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