Have you been struggling with chronic back or neck pain? Have you tried treating it with medications, stretches, or even physical therapy without success? If your pain is due to a spinal disc, facet joint, or compressed nerve problem, you may need non-surgical spinal decompression. This is a non-invasive treatment that encourages healing in the spinal joints and discs. Here’s everything you need to know about how this innovative therapy could relieve your pain:
How Your Spine Works and Why It Hurts
The human spine is a complex structure of bones, discs, nerves, and soft tissues. The bones of your spine, called vertebrae, connect to each other at joints, known as facet joints. These are similar to other joints throughout your body. They use cartilage and lubricating fluid to allow for smooth movement. Like other joints, facet joints can become inflamed and arthritic due to wear and tear or disease.
Between your vertebrae are discs– fluid-filled structures that cushion the spine. These also facilitate smooth movement and act as shock absorbers. Traumatic injuries can cause the tough outer skin of the disc to rupture and the fluid inside to leak out. This fluid is extremely irritating to surrounding nerves and tissues and can cause pain and a burning sensation. Sometimes trauma doesn’t herniate a disc but shifts it, so part of it bulges out between the vertebrae. The bulging disc can put pressure on nerves and cause pain and numbness or tingling in the extremities.
Your spinal cord runs through your vertebrae. It is the main highway of your nervous system that carries signals from your organs and limbs to your brain. Nerves branch out from your spinal cord to these other parts of your body. If a vertebra becomes out of alignment (a subluxation) or there is an injury to a disc or facet joint, these nerves can become impaired. Symptoms of spinal subluxations include pain, nausea, dizziness, tingling in the extremities, and impaired range of movement.
The muscles and tendons that surround your spine help to stabilize it and protect it from injury. Weak or injured muscles near the spine can cause discomfort and make you more prone to disc-related injuries.
How Does Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Work?
Non-surgical spinal decompression, also called spinal decompression therapy, works by gently stretching the spine to create negative pressures within the vertebrae. It’s a type of computerized traction that can be controlled very precisely to achieve the right amount of decompression that an individual needs. Unlike manual traction methods, which use slings and pulleys to manipulate the spine, computerized traction has been clinically proven to create negative pressures. This means it takes the pressure off of nerves and helps to suck in bulging discs and leaking fluid from herniated discs. It also draws in blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients to aid in healing.
Non-surgical spinal decompression has been proven to reduce inflammation in the facet joints and the areas impacted by disc problems. Because the joints and disc tissues don’t receive a robust blood flow, they are often slow to heal and prone to chronic pain. Spinal decompression therapy enhances blood flow so that the body’s healing mechanisms can work more effectively. In one study that compared the results of non-spinal decompression therapy to traditional traction, 86% of the patients experienced relief from lower back pain. Only 55 % of those who received traditional traction had pain relief.
What Types of Conditions Can It Treat?
Non-surgical spinal decompression is most helpful for injuries and conditions that involve the facet joints and discs. It can treat:
- Facet syndrome
- Herniated discs in the back or neck
- Bulging discs
- Chronic back or neck pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments
Your chiropractor should ask you about your symptoms, previous surgeries, and what treatments you’ve tried. They may also take x rays or other diagnostic tests to determine what type of injury you are suffering from.
What’s the Process Like?
During a decompression therapy session, the patient is secured to a special table controlled by a computer. Your provider will make sure you are comfortable before and during the decompression treatment. The table will pull apart, allowing your spine to be gently stretched. The wonderful thing about this type of decompression is the precision. Your chiropractor can control all the parameters of the treatment and personalize them to your needs.
If you have an acutely painful injury, you may feel some discomfort during treatment. Most patients feel pain relief during the treatment. You will need several sessions to achieve lasting relief. This is because spinal decompression is helping your body heal. It’s not just a band-aid for the pain. Studies show that the majority of patients feel more pain relief after every session. After a few sessions, many people feel significant relief. Your chiropractor will design a treatment plan that is right for you and may adjust it as you go according to how your body responds.
Are There Side Effects?
Non-surgical spinal decompression has an excellent safety record. The most common side effect is some muscle soreness after the first couple of sessions. This happens because the muscles are being used in a new way, similar to when you first begin a workout routine. Muscle aches are a temporary and harmless side-effect that typically resolve quickly.
As with any treatment, there are some contraindications. People who are pregnant, have a tumor near the spine, or have certain other medical conditions may not be candidates. You should tell your chiropractor if you may be pregnant and about all your health conditions and medications before starting treatment.
Can I Have Non-Surgical Decompression After a Failed Back Surgery?
Many failed back surgery patients are candidates for spinal decompression. You must wait at least six months after your surgery to receive treatment. Patients who have metal implants or spinal fusions are not able to be decompressed.
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression in Kentucky
All Star Chiropractic offers comprehensive care for back pain to patients in the Florence and Independence areas. We have been providing non-surgical spinal decompression for many years and have seen it change the lives of patients dealing with chronic pain. Schedule your consultation today to see if this amazing treatment is right for you.