Spinal Decompression Therapy

Diagram of Man with Lower Back Problems

Spinal decompression therapy is continuing to prove effective for individuals facing lower back pain caused by degenerate disc disease.


Chiropractors employ a variety of techniques to alleviate pain and discomfort. One of the more common treatments for back pain management is spinal decompression therapy, a non-invasive, drug-free alternative to back surgery and potentially addictive medications.

Decompression therapy has proven effective for low back pain associated with a herniated or slipped disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and other spinal conditions. A herniated disc causes pain because when it slips out of proper alignment it can compress nearby nerves. Symptoms of such compression can include numbness and a radiating or shooting pain.

The key to decompression therapy’s success is that it naturally tractions the spine, which creates space between the vertebra that in turn relieves pressure on the surrounding nerves. Medications, on the other hand, often simply mask the pain symptoms and do nothing to treat the actual cause of the pain. Plus, the effectiveness of medication inevitably wears off necessitating more or stronger drugs.

Recent data also strongly suggests that back surgery does not have a good track record in curing the pain and in fact may cause more problems in the long run for most patients. This is why many professional athletes have used spinal decompression therapy to treat sports-related back pain and other chiropractic problems caused by sports injuries.

Spinal decompression therapy takes place in the chiropractor’s office. The patient, who remains fully clothed, is fitted with harnesses around their pelvis and their trunk. They can either lie face down or face up on a computer-controlled table.

Throughout the series of decompression therapies water, nutrient-rich fluids and oxygen are diffused from the outside of the discs to the inside, which promotes healing. So drinking plenty of water enhances the rehydration within the discs, facilitating the healing process that much more.

Your chiropractor may complement the decompression therapy with massage therapy, which has also proven effective for providing long-lasting benefits. Other treatments may include electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and heat or cold therapy.

Individuals who experience back pain for more than six months may be considered candidates for treatment. However, individuals with any of the following conditions should also not have nonsurgical spinal decompression: fractures, tumors, abdominal aortic aneurysms, advanced osteoporosis, and spinal metal implants.

A typical decompression treatment lasts a half hour to 45 minutes and the therapy sessions usually take place over a period of four to six weeks. In a majority of cases patients report a significant improvement.

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