While still relatively unknown, we do every so often have individuals presenting to our practice asking for spinal decompression therapy asking whether it can help their situation. Given this, we would take this opportunity to discuss spinal decompression therapy so that you are aware of its possible benefits.

If you live in Melbourne and are looking for decompression treatment then do some research on it yourself, or give us a call and ask to speak to one of our chiropractors about it today.

So what is spinal decompression therapy?
This treatment involves applying a stretch or traction to the spinal joints using a mechanically-assisted machine. The goals of such treatment are to enhance spinal mobility, reduce spinal related pressure, improve muscular tonicity and reduce pain and stiffness by increasing the space between the vertebrae. Spinal decompression therapy is non-surgical, and the manufacturers’ of these machines claim such therapy has a reduced risk of the potential adverse events associated with surgical decompression.

The stretch is slow and gradual, building pressure slowly overtime. The chiropractors are trained to know how much tension to set on the machine to optimise your treatment. You are also given a precautionary button so you can stop the machine for any reason.

How Does Spinal Decompression Really Work?

  • Attempts to reduces intra-discal pressure in an effort to relieve symptoms associated with disc bulges/herniations or “pinched nerves”
  • May assist with altering the position of the intervertebral disc between spinal joints. This is designed to increase the space between your discs and take pressure off the load put on your spine by every day life.

What Types Of Problems May It Potentially Help With?

Spinal decompression therapy is suitable for most individuals. Particular cases of which people may see the most benefit include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative joint disease (arthritis)
  • Disc pathology (bulge, herniation)
  • Sciatica
  • Facet syndrome
  • During pregnancy (particularly if your practitioners table requires you to lie face down)
  • Individuals who have recently suffered traumatic spinal injuries (fractures, dislocations, breaks)
  • Cases where some Individuals suffer from severe, generalised hypermobility
  • Individuals who have undergone recent spinal surgery, fusion or other types of procedures

If you’re concerned that spinal decompression is not suitable for you, feel free to call our Chiropractors via 1300 123 365 and discuss your clinical complaint.

Is There Evidence To Support Spinal Decompression?

Unfortunately to-date, there is a lack of clinical trials and treatment comparisons for spinal decompression. However, clinical observational reports suggest some patients receive benefit from repeated spinal decompression therapy. Further research should be performed, comparing spinal decompression to treatments such as exercise as well as Chiropractic/Osteopathy/Physiotherapy techniques. Alternative study findings include:

  • 60 patients were investigated for the cardiovascular effects following cervical traction. Some patients experienced untoward reactions during the traction. The author concluded “Efforts should be made to monitor the cardiovascular variables during and immediately after cervical traction especially in “high risk” patients, that is, elderly patients and patients with unstable cardiovascular systems. Effect of cervical traction on cardiovascular and selected ECG variables of cervical spondylosis patients using various weights.  2006 Jun;13(2):81-8.
  • “Serial MRI of 20 patients treated with decompression showed 90% reduction of subligamentous nucleus herniation. Disc rehydration was also clinically indicated” Eyerman, Edward MD. Simple Pelvic Traction Gives Inconsistent Relief to Herniated Lumbar Disc Sufferers. Journal of Neuroimaging. Paper presented to the American Society of Neuroimaging, Orlando, Florida. 2-26-98.
  • “86% of intervertebral disc patients acheived good to excellent improvement following decompression therapy” C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, and Vera Borgmeyer, RN, MA.   Decompression, Reduction, and Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine: A Cost-Effective Treatment for Lumbosacral Pain.  American Journal of Pain Management Vol. 7 No. 2 April 1997.
  • “The current literature does not support or refute the efficacy or effectiveness of continuous or intermittent traction for pain reduction, improved function or global perceived effect when compared to placebo traction, tablet or heat or other conservative treatments in patients with chronic neck disorders”. Mechanical traction for neck pain with or without radiculopathy. Graham N.  2008 Jul 16;(3):CD006408. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006408.pub2.
  • “84% of individuals remained pain-free up to 90 days post treatment” Gionis, Thomas MD; Groteke, Eric DC. Surgical  Alternatives: Spinal Decompression. Orthopedic Technology Review. 2003; 6  (5).  

What Does A Spinal Decompression Session Involve?

Typically, individuals present for spinal decompression having suffered lower back complaints. There is no need to remove clothing during a session. All individuals are asked to lie on the mechanical decompression table, where a small strap is placed around the pelvis to ensure all movement is generated through the spine and not the pelvis. Various table models use a client lying face up or face down. You may receive treatment lying face up or face down (dependant upon their table model and design). While the machine is working, a gentle rhythmic type motion and stretch will be felt in the spine.

Spinal decompression can be done on any part of the spine, including the neck and low back

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