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What Is a Decompression Table?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
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Decompression tables are customized tables that are used to treat a number of bodily ailments, particularly back pain. Sometimes referred to as inversion tables, the devices are ideal for positioning the patient in a way that relieves pressure on the spinal column. As the pressure is eased, the tensed muscles of the spine begin to relax, allow the process of decompression to take place. A decompression table is commonly used as part of chiropractic care, as well as with several other forms of alternative medicine.

Also known as a diving table, the decompression table is unique in that it makes it possible for the patient to be strapped to the device, then turned at an angle. The degree of the angle will depend on the nature of the ailment, and the location of the pressure along the spinal column. In some cases, the patient is positioned vertically, with the feet in the air and the head resting near the floor. In this position, the vertebrae in the spinal column are freed from pressure and can begin to relax into a more normal position.

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People from all walks of life have made use of decompression tables. Athletes sometimes use the device as part of their preparation for a workout, or as a means of relaxing afterward. People working in high-stress environments sometimes use a combination of massage therapy with some time on a decompression table to disconnect from the pressures of the workday. Others who have chronic back issues sometimes utilize the table several times a week, as a way to minimize pain and cut the chances of becoming dependent on pain medication.

Over the years, proponents of the decompression table have also used the device to deal with other ailments. There is some anecdotal evidence that a fifteen to thirty minute session on a spinal decompression table will invoke a balanced release of neurotransmitters, and thus aid in recovery from depression and anxiety. Others see the table as a way of promoting proper blood flow throughout the body. However, many of these other claims for the process of inversion using a decompression table have not been proven conclusive by research in controlled settings.

While a session on a decompression table provides benefits for many people, it is important to not use the device without someone else present. Some designs of the table do make it possible to adjust the angle and release the straps that hold the patient in place by using a keypad. Other designs require manual positioning and manipulation of the straps. In any event, having a second person present to assist in the event that the patient is unable to work free from the table minimizes the chances for an accidental injury.

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