What is Decompression Therapy?

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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 May 2020
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Decompression therapy is a nonsurgical means of relieving pain to the lower back and neck and is often referred to as spinal decompression therapy. Decompression therapy is a spinal disc rehabilitation program that slowly and gently stretches the area of the spine while decompressing the discs. This type of treatment is considered to be very safe.

Using this technique in stretching the spine allows a vacuum effect to happen inside the discs. This type of pressure can reposition the retraction of the bulging or herniated disc to the inside of the disc, taking pressure off the nerve root, relieving the patient of pain. Very small steps are taken during each therapy session. The therapy sessions usually take place over a period of four to six weeks and often end with dramatic positive results.

Throughout the cycles of decompression therapy, water, nutrient-rich fluids and oxygen are diffused from the outside of the discs to the inside, promoting healing. Drinking plenty of water enhances the rehydration within the discs, further promoting the healing process. Spinal decompression therapy is a new technology that primarily treats patients with disc injuries in the lower back and neck.

Candidates for this type of therapy may experience pain in other areas of the body. Pain may range from back pain to leg pain, arm pain, neck pain, sciatica, numbness or tingling, stemming from herniated discs or a degenerative disc disease. Proper screening of patients is important, and only the best candidates are chosen for this type of therapy. Patients with tumors, fractures, advanced osteoporosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm, metal implants in the spinal and those who are pregnant are not likely candidates for this type of therapy.

Patients who undergo this type of therapy are fully clothed during the therapy session and wear a pelvic harness. They will either be lying face up or face down depending on the patient's individual case, their injury and the severity of it, and what the physician decides is best. The patient lies on a computerized controlled table operated by the physician, and each therapy session ranges from 20-45 minutes. Only equipment that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is used.

The costs of spinal decompression therapy can vary depending on the severity of the injury. This type of therapy is not always covered by insurance so methods of payment should be discussed with the physician during the initial consultation visit. Payment arrangements can usually be made directly with the physician's office.

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Post 4

David09 - I have a different take. You should probably see an orthopedic specialist and a neurologist (this condition does affect your nervous system after all) who will give you a clearer understanding of what is going on. I realize that both of these doctors may do little more in the end than recommend pain killers and exercises, but I believe your body has the ability to rehabilitate itself with proper self-care.

I read somewhere that 90% of patients with back pain improve without any additional medical treatment, usually within a few months. I don’t know what your timeframe is, but that’s just my two cents.

Post 3

@David09 - I recommend that you see a back specialist before it turns into something terrible like a hernia. From what I understand spinal decompression can even help hernia patients but it’s far more difficult. I have a friend who had a hernia and it caused other conditions like plantar fasciitis.

His condition was very advanced. He did get some help from spinal decompression but it was too little, too late for him, so eventually he got some surgery.

Post 2

@David09 - I haven’t used it myself but my wife has. She works in a pharmacy where she has to stand all day and look up at a computer monitor. Eventually she started complaining about back and neck pain and went to a doctor, who said she had a bulging disc. She now gets chiropractic therapy for the pain.

They use some kind of electric device that they apply against the spine to decompress the discs. She’s feeling much better now. She has to go for a few more treatments but so far it has brought relief.

Post 1

Has anyone here ever used disc decompression therapy? I have some lower back pain and a friend recommended it. I’ve been taking pain killers, and would like some help—just wondering if this procedure is as safe as they say it is.

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