If your spine is currently compressed, you are likely entertaining all of your treatment options. While some health professionals may lead you to believe surgery is the only remedy that can provide relief, research has proven differently.
Spinal compression: What it is, its causes, and symptoms
According to John Hopkins Medicine, spinal compression “is caused by any condition that puts pressure on the spinal cord.” What situations have this potential impact? There are any number of events or occurrences, some of which include normal aging, sustaining an injury, having rheumatoid arthritis, developing a tumor, and even certain infections.1
Essentially, the compression disrupts your brain from communicating with other areas of your body. So, depending on where the compression occurs along the spinal column, the end result can be varied.
Some common symptoms of spinal compression include pain or stiffness in the neck or back; a burning sensation, numbness, or weakness in the extremities; poor hand coordination; and loss of sexual ability. Additional symptoms that generally require immediate medical attention include no longer having control over the bowel or bladder, excessive or increased numbness, and severe pain.
Spinal decompression therapy and its effectiveness
An article published on Spine-health.com defines spinal decompression therapy as “stretching the spine, using a traction table or similar motorized device” so the spinal column becomes realigned. Essentially, it is said to create a “vacuum effect,” which means that any disc or vertebrae out of place should be compelled to go back into the spaces they need to be when the spine is elongated.
One study, published in Neurological Research, found spinal decompression therapy to be extremely effective. With this particular piece of research, 778 cases were included, with diagnoses ranging from herniated disc, to degenerative disc, to facet syndrome. The data assessed included the participants’ self-reported levels of pain, mobility, and whether they were able to participate in regular, everyday activities. Of the individuals involved, decompression therapy dropped the pain to a zero or one on a five-point scale for almost three-quarters of the cases (71 percent).3
Does insurance cover spinal decompression therapy?
Unfortunately, many plans (Medicare included) don’t currently cover this type of treatment. Contact your insurance company representative to learn more.
1 Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. “Spinal Cord Compression.” JohnsHopkinsMedicine.org. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/nervous_system_disorders/spinal_cord_compression_134,13/. Accessed January 2015.
2 Gay R. “All About Spinal Decompression Therapy.” Spine-health.com. http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/all-about-spinal-decompression-therapy. Published September 2013. Accessed January 2015.
3 Gose EE, Naguszewski RK, Naguszewski WK. “Vertebral axial decompression therapy for pain associated with herniated or degenerated discs or facet syndrome: an outcome study.” Neurol Res. 1998:20(3);186–190.