What Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression?
Nonsurgical spinal decompression is a type of motorized traction that may help relieve back pain. Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine. That changes the force and position of the spine. This change takes pressure off the spinal disks, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine, by creating negative pressure in the disc. As a result, bulging or herniated disks may retract, taking pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. This in turn, helps promote movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disks so they can heal.
Doctors have used nonsurgical spinal decompression in an attempt to treat:
- Back or neck pain or sciatica, which is pain, weakness, or tingling that extends down the leg
- Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
- Worn spinal joints (called posterior facet syndrome)
- Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots
More research is needed to establish the safety and effectiveness of nonsurgical spinal decompression. To know how effective it really is, researchers need to compare spinal decompression with other alternatives to surgery. These include:
How Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression Done?
You are fully clothed during spinal decompression therapy. The doctor fits you with a harness around your pelvis and another around your trunk. You either lie face down or face up on a computer-controlled table. A doctor operates the computer, customizing treatment to your specific needs.Treatment may last 30 to 45 minutes and you may require 20 to 28 treatments over five to seven weeks. Before or after therapy, you may have other types of treatment, such as:
- Electrical stimulation (electric current that causes certain muscles to contract)
- Ultrasound (the use of sound waves to generate heat and promote healing)
- Heat or cold therapy
Who Should not Have Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression?
Ask your doctor whether or not you are a good candidate for nonsurgical spinal decompression. It is best not to try it if you are pregnant. People with any of these conditions should also not have nonsurgical spinal decompression:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Advanced osteoporosis
- Metal implants in the spine
What Is Surgical Spinal Decompression?
Surgical spinal decompression is another option for treating certain types of back pain. But it is usually used as a last resort. If other measures don't work, your doctor may suggest surgical spinal decompression for bulging or ruptured disks, bony growths, or other spinal problems. Surgery may help relieve symptoms from pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, including:
Are There Different Types of Spinal Decompression Surgery?
Your doctor may suggest one or more types of back surgeries to relieve the pressure in your spine. In addition, you may need spinal fusion to stabilize your spine. The following are the more common types of back surgery:
- Diskectomy: In this procedure, a portion of the disk is removed to relieve pressure on nerves.
- Laminotomy or laminectomy: A surgeon removes a small portion of bone -- a section of bony arch or the entire bony arch -- to increase the size of the spinal canal and relieve pressure.
- Foraminotomy or foraminectomy: A surgeon removes bone and other tissue to expand the openings for nerve roots.
- Osteophyte removal: During the surgery, bony growths are removed.
- Corpectomy: This procedure involves removing a vertebral body along with disks between the vertebrae.
What Are the Risks of Spinal Decompression Surgery?
As with any surgery, there are risks. These are some of the more common risks associated with spinal decompression surgery:
What is Lumbar Traction/Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Spinal decompression therapy involves stretching the spine using a traction table or similar motorized device, with the goal of relieving back pain and radiating leg symptoms.
Theory Behind Lumbar Traction for Back Pain
The traction creates negative intradiscal pressure to promote retraction or repositioning of a herniated or bulging disc. It also creates lower pressure in the disc that will cause an influx of healing nutrients and other substances into the disc.
Do you have a herniated, bulging or degenerated disc that is causing pain?
Traction therapy can offer relief for lower back pain, neck pain and sciatica.
Traction therapy is used to relieve neck and back pain without the need for surgery. It aims to reverse the effects of gravity through a process of stretching and realigning that helps the spine move back into place.
It’s often called vertebral traction, or spinal traction, and is a widely accepted treatment for pain in the spine and back muscles. It can either be applied as manual therapy, mechanical traction, or through computerized traction. Traction therapy, a form of decompression therapy, relieves pressure on the spine through a series of weights and pulleys as well as manual manipulation, stretching the muscles and ligaments and thereby increasing the space between each vertebra. Stretching the spine takes pressure off discs that have become compressed so that the spine can be straightened and the body can heal itself.
Traction therapy can be used to effectively treat many conditions related to back and neck pain, including:
- Slipped, herniated and bulged discs
- Disc ruptures and tears
- Degenerative disc disease
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone spurs
How can traction therapy help?
Studies have shown that this safe, non-invasive therapy offers a number of benefits, including:
- Lower rates of disability and neck pain
- An alternative to surgery
- Reduction of inflammation for natural healing
- Improved blood circulation and delivery of nutrients to the affected area
Traction therapy is done by gently pulling the vertebrae apart from one another in the area where the disc is damaged. The therapy itself is painless and relieves pressure on the spine caused by damaged discs or abnormal movement. These underlying causes can result in compression in the spine and pinched nerves, which causes back pain, and may also cause tingling and numbness that spreads from the spine into the arms and hands, or legs and feet.
Traction straightens the spine and stimulates the body’s own ability to heal itself. This common, widely used technique is able to offer a significant reduction in pain for many patients, and may even eliminate the pain altogether. Many of our patients experience a noticeable decrease in their pain within just a few sessions and can continue with a therapeutic exercise program for full pain resolution.
Traction For Lumbar Pain
By definition, traction is the act of pulling apart. Traction when applied on our body relates to imparting stretch to that given part of the body. Its aim is to relieve undue pressure on our nerves which is the leading cause of pain.
Whenever our hand gets constricted or compressed between two surfaces, we feel irritated, agitated and pain. Similarly, when the nerves passing through our vertebral bones get compressed, we suffer in a similar manner. Only difference stands that we are unable to localize that pain owing to the wide spread route of the compressed nerve.
For spinal pain, traction is mainly used for the pain in neck region and lower back region.
The look and feel of the traction machine is very drastic. Traction involves the use of pulleys and weights to stretch the back. The thought of our back getting stretched by heavy force is scary. Every patient goes through this dilemma of whether to get the traction or not, as and when their therapist advises them. Therefore, it is really important that we get aware about how this treatment works. Yes! We may not master the therapy by reading this, but at least we are aware of what is good for us. After all, it is our right and duty to be aware about what we are seeking in terms of physical or health care.