How Spinal Decompression Works
Do you have Back Pain? Spinal decompression therapy creates a logarithmic ramp-up of negative pressure on the spine, holds it in this position for a short time, then releases it again. This computerized logarithmic action is specially designed to trick the nerves that would normally restrict the stretching of muscles and ligaments, allowing for the therapeutic effect to be focused directly on the disc. Other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy, traction, and chiropractic adjustments simply cannot bypass the nervous system’s normal protective response and therefore cannot create nearly the level of hydration in the discs. When in a fully hydrated state, special cells in the disc called “fibroblasts” are mobilized to seal tears in the annulus (the outer fibers of the disc). This has been confirmed by pre- and post-treatment discograms.
In a recent study in the treatment of a large group of patients with back pain caused by herniated discs and degenerative disc disease, 86 percent of those who completed the therapy showed immediate improvement and resolution of their symptoms and 92 percent enjoyed an improvement in their symptoms overall. Only five patients had a recurrence of their symptoms within 90 days of initial treatment. In another study, conducted at the University of Texas, pressure changes within the disc were measured by directly inserting a very fine pressure measurement device into the patient’s L4-5 disc. The patient then underwent a session of spinal decompression. As expected, the device conclusively demonstrated that spinal decompression did, in fact, do what it purported to do. In another study of 778 patients, researchers found that pain, activity, and mobility scores all improved after spinal decompression therapy. In fact, the average success rate for all diagnoses was 71 percent. The authors concluded that for patients with low back pain, decompression therapy should be considered as a front-line treatment.
In another study of subjects with a mean ten year history of chronic low back pain, 89% of the patients experienced a clinically and statistically reduction of pain greater than 50%. These treatment effects are large when compared to many drug trials and even some types of surgery.
As you can see, the research is strong. There is ongoing research being done to get even more specific numbers and data for specific conditions. Even with the current research, spinal decompression is exciting. It offers hope for those with chronic back pain.
Unlike other forms of therapy, decompression therapy can either target the therapy to one disc or work on a whole region of the spine simultaneously. Adjustments can be made to the position of the spine, as well as the angle and the amount of force needed to decompress at specific intervertebral disc. Regular treatments helps to stretch shortened connective tissues by applying movement to the spine in a controlled manner, allowing normal movement to be re-established.
While results vary, most patients with back pain who undergo decompression therapy, including those who suffer from long-term chronic pain or who underwent surgery, are able to resume normal activities. Patients who do not show significant improvement by the 15th to 18th session may be referred for further diagnostic evaluation. Some things that may affect the outcome of treatment include your age, sex, severity of pain, previous surgeries, chronic use of narcotic or steroid medications, and body weight, as well as several lifestyle practices, such as consuming large amounts of daily caffeine, smoking and dietary choices.