As a doctor of chiropractic, you have many different treatment-based tools at your disposal that are designed with the intent of helping your patients achieve a higher level of health.
One of them is an inversion or decompression table. Between research and favorable reviews by practicing chiropractors, this particular option is connected to quite a few patient-related benefits.
Scott Schreiber, a DC who is double board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition, has been practicing in Newark, Delaware for more than eleven years and states that he has found the decompression table “very useful for a variety of conditions, such as disc herniation, facet syndrome, sciatica, radiculopathy, and other degenerative conditions.”
Research confirms this. For example, the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders published a cohort study in 2010 that involved 30 patients with lumbar disc herniation. After decompression therapy, disc height in this group of individuals increased 1.3 mm. This is important as the researchers noted that disc height and pain reduction “were significantly correlated.”
Spine-health defines nonsurgical spinal decompression as a therapeutic procedure that elongates the spine “using a traction table or similar motorized device” utilized primarily to help patients find relief from back and leg pain associated with compressed disc conditions.
One study published in the January/February 2008 issue of Pain Practice found positive results in regard to individuals’ participation in activities of daily living after engaging in decompression therapy, due in large part to the reduced pain. In this research specifically, researchers found an 83 percent improvement in subject pain upon follow up.
At the same time, a lot of research in this area suggests that there is no real evidence supporting reduced pain effects, citing flaws in the studies that have been performed. To this Patrick Labelle, board certified chiropractic sports physician and owner of BioMechanics Sports Rehabilitation and Chiropractic, reinforces that “a lack of good evidence is NOT evidence proving that spinal decompression is not effective.” He goes on to say that his patients with “pain or radiation of disc and/or facet origin tend to love it.”
Treatment at a reasonable cost
In addition to the research-based concerns regarding decompression’s ability to effectively reduce pain, one study published in the 2007 issue of Chiropractic & Osteopathy also states there are “may other well investigated, less expensive alternatives” that patients can use to remedy their discomfort. Not all DCs agree.
In his practice, Labelle uses his decompression table at what he estimates to be one-tenth the cost of some of the higher priced treatment options. He goes on to say that, as a result, his patients “don’t have to take out a second mortgage to feel better.”
Individually tailored treatments
Another benefit of decompression tables is the ability to tailor the treatments. Schreiber supports this notion, stating that “many tables are touch screen and digital, which makes treatment more specific to the individual, getting better results.” Labelle expands on this by stating that these types of positive results require two things: proper patient position and instruction.
This means paying attention to the “angle of pull and angle of hip and knee bend when supine,” says Labelle. Furthermore, he goes on to state that “most people who feel worse after traction did not follow instructions” of stopping the machine if they feel more pain or like they are tensing up.