Why Spinal Decompression is Superior to Inversion Treatment?

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With the abundance of DIY videos, many individuals may opt for a shortcut or an easier route. However, when it comes to matters of health, there are no safe alternatives. In the case of a spinal injury, failing to seek professional guidance could result in worsening of the injury. Despite this, some may opt to purchase an inversion table with the hope of healing their injuries from home and avoiding multiple doctor visits.

While this may appear to be a viable option, it is important to note that Spinal decompression therapy, unlike inversion tables, specifically targets the source of your pain. Spinal decompression therapy is a unique traction technique that is utilized by professionals to address various spinal disorders such as degenerative disc disease, protruding discs, prolapsed discs, facet syndrome, spinal stenosis, and others. This therapy is carefully calculated and involves the use of specialized equipment and a computer-enhanced table.

In contrast, inversion tables simply suspend the individual upside down, allowing gravity to stretch their muscles and spine. To gain a better understanding of these distinctions, let’s delve further into the topic of Spinal Decompression Therapy vs Inversion Table.

Inversion Table

man who needs spinal decompression therapy hanging upside down on an inversion table in his living room.

Just like it sounds, an inversion table inverts you, or hangs you upside down by your ankles, for a certain length of time.  Inversion therapy is frequently used by people who have lower back pain.  Inversion therapy uses your own body weight to stretch your spine. This ideally reverses the negative effects of gravity.

An inversion table pulls every joint in your body. It does not focus on the area that is actually causing you discomfort. Spinal decompression therapy can pinpoint an individual disc. A chiropractor can apply the necessary negative pressure to release an impinged disc and promote healing. An inversion table is not made for this individual kind of treatment.

Inversion therapy can also increase blood pressure. That can be dangerous for people with hypertension. It can also cause injury and pain to arthritic joints.  Ultimately, inversion therapy can harm the knees, spine or hips. Muscles in the body may spasm as a defense mechanism to forceful stretching while using the inversion table.

Below are a few reasons an inversion table may not be the best treatment for your spinal pain.  

1. Generalized therapy rather than targeted: 

Inversion therapy is unable to target the specific injury or disc. Since inversion tables rely on gravity alone, you can’t regulate the amount of force exerted. That means an inversion table can’t create the necessary negative pressure to release a disc.  Inversion tables are similar to traction. And traction is a far different treatment than decompression therapy.

2. Temporary relief: 

Inversion therapy can feel good while it’s happening. But any pain relief is very short lived.  To achieve real results from inversion, a patient would need to remain inverted between 15 to 20 minutes a day. That amount of time spent upside down can be dangerous.

3. Worsening the injury: 

Inversion tables don’t have any clear injury-specific guidelines. Without oversight by a professional, it is possible for you to overdo the amount of time on an inversion table. This could result in spasming muscles and even damage to the muscles and spine.

4. Worsening illnesses:

While the hanging around by your ankles doesn’t seem to be inherently dangerous, some illnesses and conditions could worsen as a result of inversion therapy.  Hanging upside down increases blood pressure, worsening hypertension.  Inversion therapy can also increase inner ear and eye pressure. And it could be dangerous for patients who take blood thinners.  If you are obese, pregnant, have a fracture or an aortic aneurysm, hernia, or osteoporosis, you should not use an inversion table.

5. No proven benefits: 

There is no scientific proof that inversion tables provide lasting benefits.

Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression Therapy

Patient on a spinal decompression therapy table at a chiropractor's office

Nonsurgical decompression is performed by highly trained professionals on a specialized decompression table.  The patient is completely relaxed. Therapy includes using a series of calculations to program the table. This provides the appropriate force and timing needed for each session.

Spinal decompression therapy provides negative pressure within the disc. This pulls the disc back into place and allows it to expand in its original position.  At Crist Chiropractic, we combine spinal decompression therapy with coaching in life choices. We believe patients get the most benefit from caring for their whole body. We give specific instruction regarding hydration, nutrition, exercise routine and chiropractic adjustments.  Spinal decompression therapy delivers long term results and for many, immediate relief.

What is the Best Way to Safely Address Your Back Pain?

If you have back or neck pain, always call a professional, such as Crist Chiropractic, for an evaluation.  Inversion therapy is an ineffective and potentially dangerous way to treat your back pain.

Your chiropractor is a licensed healthcare professional. They are specially trained in techniques such as spinal decompression therapy. An evaluation is the safest way for your chiropractor to see a full picture of your health. A medical history can alert your chiropractor to conditions that would make decompression therapy a bad idea for your health. Your initial consultation will include diagnostic tools, such as MRI and X-rays, to identify the exact cause of your pain or disability.

Decompression tables, unlike inversion tables, specifically target the source of your pain. They can provide the treatment needed to begin the healing process. It is safe to stay on decompression tables long enough to achieve effective treatment.  The result is an immediate decrease in pain. Decompression therapy can also achieve longer lasting results as well.

It usually takes 20 to 30 sessions in total to achieve the greatest result with decompression therapy. You can achieve the best results by following a full treatment plan, including lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes may include ice therapy, exercise programs, and nutritional advice. Don’t take any chances with the health of your back.  If you are experiencing any pain, stiffness, or disability with your spine, lower back or neck, call your Franklin, TN chiropractor in Cool Springs for an evaluation to see if spinal decompression therapy is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What exercises should you avoid with a compressed spine?

To protect your compressed spine, avoid high-impact activities such as heavy lifting and running. Instead, opt for low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, or gentle stretching.

2. What is the best position to decompress the spine?

The best position for spine decompression is typically lying flat on your back with your legs elevated at a right angle on a chair or using specialized equipment like a spinal decompression table.

3. What is the best way to decompress your spine at home?

While seeking professional guidance is essential, you can try gentle stretching, yoga, or using over-the-door cervical traction devices designed for home use. Always follow proper instructions to avoid injury.

4. Is an inversion table bad for spinal stenosis?

Inversion tables can provide relief for some individuals with spinal stenosis, but it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before using one. It may not be suitable for everyone with this condition.

5. Is it worth buying an inversion table?

The decision to purchase an inversion table depends on your specific spinal condition and needs. Consult with a chiropractor or healthcare provider for personalized recommendations based on your condition. Safety and professional guidance are paramount.

About the Author
Dr. Jason Crist founded Crist Chiropractic in Franklin, Tennessee, with a vision to provide health and healing naturally. His personal journey of avoiding surgery ignited his passion for non-invasive care, earning him "Chiropractor of the Year" for his holistic approach.

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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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