Spinal decompression, a large component of chiropractic care, refers to a host of different treatments that take pressure off the nerves in the spine. Spinal decompression methods involved gentle and mechanical stretching of the spine to relieve pain and restore functionality. It is particularly effective for the care of herniated or bulging discs when such disc damage applies pressure to the spinal cord, resulting in pain.
To clarify, this page refers to nonsurgical spinal decompression, not more invasive methods like laminectomy and microdiscectomy. Chiropractic spinal decompression is a process to take a load off your back without medication or surgery.
How Does Spinal Decompression Work
While spinal decompression can be accomplished several ways, the most common is to make use of a traction table, a programmable table that moves in segments. The lower half of the table moves based on computerized instructions, sliding back and forth, while the upper half of the table remains stationary. This combination assists to take pressure off of and lengthen the spine. The process is gentle and slow, and the computer monitors your body’s responsiveness to the treatment. The process works by creating negative intradiscal pressure (pressure within damaged discs).
What to Expect
To determine the severity of the damage to the spine, your chiropractor may recommend a series of bone scans or other diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or MRIs. If you already have such tests, your chiropractor will study them thoroughly before determining a plan for spinal decompression. It is critical for your chiropractor to have such diagnostics to know how best to treat your pain.
During spinal decompression sessions, you will remain clothed and wear a harness around the hips that is also attached to the lower part of the traction table. For best results, wear clothing that allows for movement. You will feel the table move beneath you, but it will support you throughout the entire procedure. If spinal damage is serious, the first few treatments may be mildly uncomfortable, but the process should not be painful.
For the best long-lasting results, many (15-30) treatments over the course of several weeks are recommended. Your chiropractor will make a plan with you on how frequently you should receive spinal decompression care.
If the cause of spinal pain cannot be corrected by chiropractic spinal decompression, surgery may be required. Spinal decompression is not good for patients with broken vertebrae or who have spinal fusion, or for whom multiple surgeries have not been effective.
What are the Benefits
In a case of severe back pain, or of the neuropathy that it can trigger, relief is a powerful motivator. Spinal decompression can be that relief when the weight of the world becomes too heavy for your spine. Spinal decompression is recommended for the treatment of herniated or bulging discs, pinched nerves, and spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the spine because of damaged discs or bone spurs).
In addition to relieving pressure from spinal discs and subsequently the spinal cord, spinal decompression can also stimulate blood flow through the spine. The change in pressure within the spine allows oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to flow to affected areas. This promotes tissue repair, cell renewal, and, as a natural result, long-term healing. Spinal decompression is a non-surgical way to alleviate back pain and engender prolonged spinal health.
At Rock Creek Spine & Rehabilitation Center in Broomfield, CO, we want you to feel the spring in your step that comes from a decompressed spine. If you are plagued with spinal pain, especially from damaged discs or pinched nerves, give us a call today to meet with one of our first-class chiropractors about how spinal decompression may be right for you.