When you experience chronic pain in your lower back, it can majorly affect your life.
You may find that you no longer enjoy activities that require a lot of movement, like playing a game of golf or running around the yard chasing your kids.
Even sitting can bring discomfort, making this particular issue troublesome no matter what you do (or don’t do). Fortunately, spinal decompression may be able to help.
What is spinal decompression?
Although spinal decompression can be surgical or non-surgical in nature, for purposes of this article, we will be focusing solely on the non-surgical alternative. Therefore, non-surgical spinal decompression is a non-invasive therapy option that involves stretching your spine gently in an effort to relieve its compressed areas.1
As explained by WebMD, “Proponents of this type of treatment say that over time, negative pressure from this therapy may cause bulging or herniated discs to retract.” Essentially, by pulling the vertebrae slightly apart, there is room for your discs to fall back into place, thereby alleviating whatever problems they are creating. It is also used to help treat degenerative disc disease.1
How does it work?
Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy can be done right in your chiropractor’s office. You simply lie on a spinal decompression table, either face up or face down, and the DC controls the table’s function in whatever way is necessary to deal with your particular spinal compression issues.
This type of therapy can be used in conjunction with other treatment options, such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound, or heat or cold therapy. Typical sessions last one-half to three-quarters of an hour. Multiple sessions may be required in order to complete the therapeutic process.1
Is it effective?
In an interview with Spine-health, two chiropractors, Eben Davis and Steven Shoshany, both indicate that a number of their spinal decompression patients experience some type of pain relief and increased mobility within the first five or six treatment sessions.2
Similarly, one study, published by BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, confirmed that non-surgical spinal decompression can provide low-back pain sufferers some much needed pain relief. In this particular piece of research, 30 patients who experienced lumbar disc herniation engaged in spinal decompression therapy for a period of six weeks. The results were lower back pain and increased disc height, causing the researchers to conclude that “pain reduction may be mediated, at least in part, through a restoration of disc height.”3
Another case study involved a 33-year-old male patient who had suffered with low back pain for six years prior. After 20 non-surgical spinal decompression treatment sessions, his pain went from a fairly constant level of a six on a pain scale of zero to 10 (which is where he reported being roughly 75 percent of the time) to a zero. An MRI confirmed that there was an increase in height between the vertebrae.4
Is spinal decompression right for you?
Talking to your chiropractor is the first step in discovering if this particular treatment option is right for you. Depending on the cause of your specific low back pain, spinal decompression may be able to provide relief.
1 Brakeville R. “Spinal Decompression Therapy.” WebMD.com. http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/spinal-decompression-therapy-surgical-nonsurgical. Reviewed January 2015. Accessed February 2015.
2 Davis E, Marten S, Shoshany S. “Doctor Perspectives: Chiropractors Discuss Spinal Decompression for Back Pain.” Spine-Health.com. http://www.spine-health.com/blog/doctor-perspectives-chiropractors-discuss-spinal-decompression-back-pain. Published November 2010. Accessed February 2015.
3 Apfel C, et al. Restoration of disk height through non-surgical spinal decompression is associated with decreased discogenic low back pain: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2010:11(155).
4 Auster M, Florio F, Richmond C, Wilhelm J. Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings after Treatment with a Non-surgical Spinal Decompression System (DRX9000TM)—Case Report. US Musculoskeletal Review. 2007:2;50–52.