Many people experience low back pain throughout their lives. In fact, it is currently the number one cause of permanent disability, and the second largest reason given for missed work. Low back pain is the second most common reason for doctor visits, and the third most common for surgical procedures. If you have low back pain, you are certainly not alone.
The majority of those suffering back pain have pain that is “organic” in nature, meaning that it isn’t caused by serious conditions such as cancers or fractures. The good news is, many people can find relief by turning to non-surgical spinal decompression and chiropractic adjustments.
How is Back Pain Treated?
Traditionally, there are three ways to treat your low back pain: pharmacological, surgical, and non-surgical.
- Non-Surgical: The second step in a conservative approach to treating back pain, this will include exercise and stretching such as yoga, spinal manipulation, systemic corticosteroids such as prednisone, heat therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and patient education involving behavioral therapy and proper back care techniques. Alternative medicine approaches can include acupressure and acupuncture.
- Pharmacological: This is considered a more aggressive approach to treating your back pain. It can consist of any combination of opioids, muscle relaxers and other recommended medication. All of these have side affects that can be worse than the pain that you are already experiencing.
- Surgical: Surgery is often considered a last resort for back pain patients because the outcomes can be unpredictable, and the procedures can have complications. The commonly accepted recommendation regarding surgery is that a patient undergo conservative treatments for at least two months before considering surgery, and often much longer than that.
Non-surgical decompression was developed to address the risks associated with surgery while addressing back pain that is unresolved through conventional means. It seeks to end your low back pain non-invasively by enlarging the spaces between discs, reducing herniation of the discs, and decreasing pressure between the discs. Spinal decompression systems are FDA approved and have become prevalent as a valuable non-invasive resource for fixing the causes of the back pain, rather than just treating the symptoms of it.
What is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression?
The bones in your spine are separated, padded and protected by gel-like cushions known as discs. These are common sources of back pain because they can slip out of alignment, which causes them to bulge or herniate.
Non-surgical decompression is a treatment that uses a motorized traction device to gently stretch your spine, taking pressure off of the discs by creating negative pressure. This allows your spine to return to its normal position, while taking pressure off of the nerves and other spinal structures. Not only will this provide immediate relief of your low back pain, it will allow the discs to receive water, oxygen and other nutrient rich fluids so they can heal.
Non-surgical spinal decompression also allows for easier chiropractic adjustments. When used together, the treatments are more effective and the spine will heal faster.
When is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Recommended?
Over time, discs can become injured because of trauma, dehydration, and repetitive movements. When this happens, your discs may bulge, become herniated, or begin to degenerate. The nerves in your spine become inflamed, compressed and irritated, which in turn affects the muscles, tissues and organs that are receiving the nerve signals from your spine, resulting in pain in your extremities. Non-surgical spinal decompression can help with these symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend non-surgical spinal decompression to treat conditions such as:
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Diseased or injured spinal nerve roots
- Posterior facet syndrome (worn spinal joints)
- Back or neck pain
- Sciatica (pain, numbness and tingling that extends down the leg)
Non-surgical spinal decompression may not be recommended for patients who are pregnant, or who have the following conditions:
- Advanced osteoporosis
- Metal implants in the spine
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
How Effective is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression?
Research into the effectiveness of non-surgical spinal decompression involves comparing it with other non-surgical interventions, including:
- Chiropractic adjustments alone
- Physical therapy
- Limited rest
- Steroid injections
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Acupuncture and acupressure
Christian C Apfel of the University of California at San Francisco, along with several of his colleagues, conducted an independent research study of patients who received non-surgical spinal decompression. He studied the CT scans of sixteen chronic back pain patients as they went through a six week course of the treatment. He concluded that the non-surgical spinal decompression increased spinal disc height, resulting in a significant decrease in pain for the patients.
Another trial involving eighteen patients suffering from chronic low back pain found that each one experienced a significant decrease in pain and experienced improved function, while needing fewer analgesics.
One case study, from 2007, involved a 69 year old man who had been suffering back pain for over a year, getting even worse over a period of two months. He had a prior back surgery thirteen years before, and was now reporting burning and radiating pain down both of his legs and into his feet. This patient had problems standing or walking for more than fifteen minutes at a time. The pain was so intense that it disrupted his sleep; he even had difficulty getting up from a chair. He reported his pain as a “10” on the pain rating scale. This patient’s MRI showed many degenerative changes to his spine, and multiple disc herniations in his lower back. The patient underwent seven weeks of non-invasive spinal decompression during a twenty-two week treatment plan, along with electrical stimulation, rehabilitative exercise, and chiropractic adjustments. At his discharge, the patient reported his pain had decreased to a “1” on the pain rating scale, and he no longer felt pain and burning radiating to his legs and feet. His muscle strength had improved, and he had regained normal feeling in his extremities. His final MRI showed a decrease in his disc herniations and an overall increase in the height of the discs. This patient was just one of many success stories involving non-surgical spinal decompression.
Traction has been used safely for decades to realign the spine. Prior to motorized decompression units, traction was done manually, or with gravity and weights, but using a computerized unit allows your doctor to precisely and gently maneuver your spine into the correct alignment.
What can I Expect During my Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Treatment Session?
For your session, you will be asked to lie face up, fully clothed, on the computerized treatment table. You will be fitted with a harness around your torso, and another around your hips. Your doctor will then adjust the computerized settings precisely, customizing the treatment session to your specific needs.
Your treatment session will be pain free and last between fifteen to thirty minutes. Your chiropractor may advise chiropractic adjustments, electric stimulation and traction table therapy prior to or immediately following your non-surgical spinal decompression session.
How will I know if Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression is Right for Me?
Your doctor will carefully review the history of your back pain, and may run additional scans or tests to be sure you are a candidate for non-surgical spinal decompression. Your chiropractor will then create a treatment plan for you regarding the frequency and length of your treatments to help you reach your goals.
Non-surgical Spinal Decompression is a safe, gentle and effective way to take back your life, free of the back pain that is keeping you from living your life to the fullest.