Many adults with lower back pain try decompression therapy as a last resort after spinal surgery, or nonsurgical treatments like epidural steroid injections or physical therapy fail to provide relief. This nonsurgical treatment involves using a machine that gently stretches your spine to allow herniated discs to slip back into their intended slots.

Spinal Decompression is a nonsurgical spinal treatment that relieves pressure along the spine and soothes back pain. Often, spinal decompression therapy is used as a first line of defense to avoid costly and risky surgical procedures.

Spinal Decompression

The spinal column consists of a series of bones (vertebrae) strung together like beads on a lanyard with ligaments and spinal (intervertebral) discs in between each bone. A pathway of nerves runs through these connective tissues and is sensitive to any injuries or conditions that affect the integrity of those connections. A wide range of problems can impact the spinal column and create compression on the neural components of the spine, causing pain and inflammation.

When a herniated or bulging disc is the culprit, spinal decompression therapy can help. Decompression therapy gently stretches your spine, temporarily expanding the space between each vertebrae and encouraging fluid circulation in areas that are restricted. This repositions discs that have moved out of place and helps deliver healing nutrients to the area.

You lie on a table while your healthcare provider moves a mechanical system with pulleys and weights to stretch or decompress the spine. The machine is equipped with safety switches that allow you to stop the treatment if you feel any discomfort. You may also receive other types of treatment while undergoing decompression therapy, such as electrical stimulation, traction and physical therapy.

In most cases, patients will receive a series of treatments over four to six weeks to get the best results from spinal decompression therapy. Your healthcare provider will decide if you are a candidate for decompression therapy after evaluating your symptoms, medical history and conducting diagnostic imaging tests.

Anyone who is suffering from back pain that is due to a herniated or bulging disk can benefit from spinal decompression therapy. However, it is recommended that you consult with a chiropractor or healthcare practitioner who is trained in the use of decompression therapy to see if this is right for you.

If you suffer from long-lasting back or neck pain, you know how disruptive it can be. A herniated or bulging spinal disc can compress nerves that send signals to and from the brain and body, leading to chronic pain. While pain relievers and heat and cold treatments can ease the symptoms, they don’t address the root cause.

Nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy uses a manual or motorized traction table to create negative pressure in the spine, which takes pressure off of discs and nerves. This can alleviate herniated or bulging discs and encourage healing by allowing fluids to flow to the affected areas. Several studies show that spinal decompression therapy is safe and effective for relieving chronic pain without the need for surgery or medication.

Surgical spinal decompression can also be performed using a microdiscectomy or laminectomy, which remove the portion of the vertebrae that makes up the roof of the spinal canal (lamina). This allows for more space for nerves and removal of bone spurs or thickened ligaments (osteophytes) that can cause pinched nerves. During this procedure, you will stay in the hospital for 1 to 4 days, and you may have to wait 6 weeks before you can perform strenuous activities.

Acupuncture: A healthcare provider inserts tiny needles into your body at various points to release natural pain-relieving chemicals. Chiropractic care: A chiropractor can use spinal manipulation to realign your bones and help ease your pain. Physical therapy: Your healthcare provider will teach you exercises to strengthen muscles and improve your posture.

Spinal decompression is a nonsurgical treatment for herniated or bulging spinal discs, spinal stenosis, pinched nerves, sciatica, and other conditions that can cause severe pain in your legs, arms, shoulders, back, chest, and belly. It can be used alone or in combination with other therapies. Before you begin treatment, your healthcare provider will evaluate your medical history and do a physical exam. They will also order imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI scan, to see what is causing your symptoms. Then, your doctor will determine whether you can undergo spinal decompression therapy.

For some people, compression of the nerves in the lower spine (lumbar) is the cause of their back pain. When this is the case, spinal decompression surgery can be an effective treatment option. It’s important to have a proper diagnosis before proceeding with this type of surgery, however. A lumbar decompression operation can also be used to treat peripheral neuropathy, which causes numbness, burning pain and weakness in the legs or arms. It’s usually caused by a nerve being compressed or pinched between the ligamentous tunnel of the spinal cord and adjacent bony surfaces.

This is usually the result of repetitive injury or trauma, which results in microvascular changes, edema, and injuries to the outer layer of the nerve (myelin sheath) that helps the nerve transmit signals along the length of its axon. Symptoms may also include focal segmental demyelination that can result in a loss of function and axonal regeneration. Spinal decompression surgery can be helpful in restoring function and remyelination.

The surgical decompression procedure involves opening or removing the bones and spinal discs that are compressing the nerves, which can be done by a variety of methods. These techniques include laminoplasty, where part of a vertebral lamina is reshaped; a foraminotomy, where bony growths are removed; and a laminectomy, where the entire spinal bone and disc are removed.

Most lumbar decompression surgeries are performed under general anesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain during the operation. Once the operation is complete, you can usually leave hospital within a day or two, although your doctor will probably ask you to take it easy for a few weeks before you resume normal activities.

Although many people report significant relief from this surgery, it’s important to remember that spinal stenosis can recur even after having the decompression procedure. It’s also important to understand that the recurrence of symptoms can be caused by other factors, such as arthritis and the natural process of degenerative spinal aging. Therefore, it’s essential to find a surgeon who has experience with the surgical decompression technique you’re considering and to discuss your expectations before choosing this treatment.

Disc decompression surgery relieves pressure on the spinal nerves in your back (lumbar) or neck (cervical) that pass through or exit the spine. It’s a treatment for people who have pain and other symptoms that are caused by herniated discs or compression of spinal nerves, including numbness, tingling, weakness, and loss of mobility. You might need surgery if other treatments for your condition don’t help.

If your doctor has determined that you have a herniated disc, he or she will probably start with noninvasive treatments, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care. These therapies work to realign the bones of your spine and ease the pain with gentle, controlled movements.

Spinal decompression therapy is another option if you don’t get relief from these noninvasive therapies. This procedure uses a machine to stretch and decompress your spine and spinal discs. The machine is connected to a computer that sends electronic information to create the right amount of pressure on your spinal structure. The machine is monitored by a trained technician. Each session lasts for about two minutes, and you go through multiple cycles during a treatment session.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgical spinal decompression for you if the nonsurgical treatments aren’t working. Surgical spinal decompression is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine) and sometimes in the neck (cervical spine).

During this surgical procedure, your surgeon will remove the part of a herniated disc that’s pressing on the nerves in your lower spine or cervical spine. During this procedure, your doctor will remove a portion of the bone in your spinal column (lamina). During a laminectomy, your surgeon will also remove bony growths called osteophytes from your vertebrae.

Typically, patients recover quickly from this surgery. You’ll leave the hospital one to four days after your surgery, depending on your surgery. You should have a friend or family member drive you home after your operation. You’ll also need to follow physical therapy guidelines to strengthen your muscles. In most cases, you can return to your job within a few weeks. However, if you have an important job that requires heavy lifting or driving, you might need to take more time off.