Spinal Decompression Therapy
What is decompression and how does it work?
Some of the most common causes of neck or back pain back pain are related to injuries of the intervertebral discs in the spine. The intervertebral discs are found between each vertebra in the human spine. They have 3 main functions: (1) absorb shock, (2) allow movement, and (3) separate the vertebra, providing space for nerves and circulation. Healthy discs have a firm, outer portion made up of cartilage, and a soft, jelly-like inner portion consisting primarily of water. Trauma, repetitive stress, and age can cause our discs to lose their elasticity and flexibility as the cartilage becomes weak and brittle, and the jelly-like center loses its water content. This can result in a herniated disc, disc degeneration, pinched nerves, and spinal stenosis (a chronic and often debilitating condition due to a combination of degenerative disc changes and osteoarthritic changes in the spine).
Spinal decompression therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical therapy that applies specific computerized cyclical distraction forces to the targeted area of the spine. These cycles of decompression create negative pressure, a "vacuum", within the disc which promotes the diffusion of water and nutrient-rich fluids from the outside of the disc to the inside. This process, over time, provides long term relief by decreasing pressure on the involved nerves and promoting rehydration and healing of the disc tissue.
Traditional Traction vs. Decompression:
Traditional traction therapies often fall short of their intended goals because they are not specific enough in the targeted region. Additionally, they must often work against the resistance of painful, contracted muscles, many times creating even more muscle spasm and guarding.
Spinal decompression differs from regular traction in that it uses computerized protocols of gradual and calculated increases of distractive forces to spinal structures, followed by cycles of partial relaxation in a way that allows the muscles of the spine to stay relaxed throughout the treatment process. This results in much greater reduction in disc pressure, and better enables the damaged disc to be rehydrated with nutrients and oxygen.
Am I a candidate for spinal decompression?
Generally patients with the following conditions experience relief with spinal decompression: bulging disc, herniated discs, protruding discs, sciatica, degenerative joint disease, chronic spinal pain, degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), acute spinal strains/sprains, acute facet problems, and even some cases of post spinal surgery patients. Ultimately, Dr. Nelson will decide if your specific condition may be helped with spinal decompression.
Are there contraindications for spinal decompression?
The following conditions are generally considered to be contraindications to decompression therapy: pregnancy, advanced osteoporosis, acute or non-healed fractures, neoplasm/metastatic cancer, meningitis, hiatus hernia, aortic aneurysm, patients with vascular compromise, any patient with spinal instability.