Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression: Your Questions Answered

Until recently, neck and back pain treatments involved steroid injections, addictive and dangerous medications and risky surgeries.  Now, nonsurgical spinal decompression provides a more natural approach to bulging or degenerating discs, sciatica, spinal stenosis or many other sources of pain. Decompression therapy is a gentle, pain free treatment that can allow you to live pain free again.

What is nonsurgical spinal decompression?  What can you expect if your doctor recommends this treatment plan?  Will it hurt?  Is it risky?

Let’s go through the steps you can expect in your nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy treatment plan.

Step One:  Evaluation for Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression.

Your chiropractor will evaluate your case and perform an exam to be sure decompression therapy is right for you. 

Step Two:  What to Expect for Your First Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression Session.

First, you will remain fully clothed during your session.  We do recommend that you wear clothing that is looser fitting and comfortable, and you will be asked to remove your belt and empty your pockets.  The table is designed to provide treatment either face up or face down, depending on your level of comfort and the treatment plan designed for your case.  While the sessions may start in one position, it may be necessary to switch positions later for the most effective treatment. 

You will be asked to lie comfortably on the table, and a special wrap-around harness will be fitted to you.  This harness is what will allow for the gentle traction and stretching of your discs and the spine.  The treatment will be focused on the problem area of your spine based on the position of the harness and the angle of the traction. 

The table itself will be programmed to deliver a gentle stretching force to the harness before releasing it in intervals of one minute.   Treatment times can rage from ten to eighteen minutes.

Patients often describe the decompression process as a gentle stretching feeling around their back or hips, and the treatment is so relaxing that many patients will fall asleep.  The feeling of relief from pain is almost immediate.

Nonsurgical spinal decompression accomplishes two vital things:

Imbibing the Discs

Imbibing the discs means providing it with vital nutrients.  When the spine is stretched and relaxes, it fosters this “imbibition.”  When a disc is degenerating and damaged, its nutrients are compromised.  Decompression therapy mimics the day to day stretching as well as the natural thickening and thinning process of the disc throughout the day.  In a normal and healthy disc, these motions encourage “imbibition.”  In an unhealthy disc, vital nutrients and hydration are limited; in turn, the disc will grow even more unhealthy which increases the odds of an injury and pain.  Traction, or artificially stretching the spine, will encourage normal imbibition in a way that is comfortable and controlled.  Once the disc begins to be nourished, it will begin to heal and regain healthy function.

Strengthening Structural Support

The gentle stretching of nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy removes pressure from the spine, allowing a bulging disc to be realigned.  This can result in a significant reduction in a patient’s pain levels and disability. 

Just because your spine is pain-free, however, doesn’t mean it is fully healed.  Disc injuries require time to fully heal, sometimes even months, and it is recommended that patients follow through on the complete treatment course in its entirety. 

As your spine heals with decompression therapy, your mobility will increase.   This increase in normal activity is the boost your spine needs to really begin to heal and imbibe our discs naturally.  Nourished muscles are the key to good spinal support and healthy discs.

Step 3: Rehabilitation and Structural Support.

By now, your back or neck pain is greatly diminished and its time to move on to rebuilding your strength.  Many patients feel almost normal after only five or less treatments, but again, being pain free doesn’t mean you are healed and that your therapy is finished.

It’s time now to rebuild and strengthen your structural support through a series of rehabilitation- oriented exercises and therapies.  This is a vital step to your treatment plan to keep the pain away and reverse some of the contributing factors that caused it to begin with.  Rehabilitation will address increasing muscle control and spinal flexibility.

Research has shown that adding an endurance and stabilization exercise program at home will keep the pain under control and reduce your chances of injury.  At home exercise is an effective way to provide long term relief, and your chiropractor will prescribe the perfect low-tech movement plan for you to do at home as part of your healing process.

In addition to home exercises, you will be instructed on other life choices that will encourage your body to heal itself.  This can include diet and lifestyle changes to help all of your body systems work together in a healthy way.  Following every aspect of your home plan is important to maintain long lasting benefits of nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy.

Step 4:  Muscular Support

At this point, the scar tissues have begun the process of breaking down and the real healing has begun.  Just because your pain is gone and you are essentially healed doesn’t mean you are suddenly on your own, though; Dr. Crist will create a personalized wellness plan including occasional office visits to monitor your progress and keep you on the road to recovery.

No matter how long you’ve been dealing with chronic neck or back pain, nonsurgical spinal decompression may be the answer you’ve been looking for.  Give us a call for your professional evaluation today.

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Crist Chiropractic & Wellness exists to help as many people as possible achieve optimal health through natural and holistic means. Our team is committed to restoring the body’s ability to express its true health potential. We strive to serve our patients and our community with a spirit of complete caring, by radiating health and promoting well-being.

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