Spinal decompression uses motorized traction to help relieve back, neck, and leg pain. It works by stretching the spine to its force and position. This change takes the pressure off the spinal cord by creating negative pressure in the spinal discs. As a result, herniated or bulging disks may retract and take the pressure off the nerves in your spine. 

This way, spinal decompression therapy helps promote movement of nutrient-rich fluids and oxygen into the disks so they can heal.

What are The Various Types of Spinal Decompression Therapies?

Your physician may suggest one or more types of decompression therapies to relieve the pressure on your spine. In general, spinal decompression is divided into non-surgical and surgical decompression therapy.  

  • Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy

This technique involves stretching the spine, using a mobile device such as a traction table to alleviate back pain and leg pain. It only includes mechanical force and is completely non-invasive.

  • Surgical spinal decompression therapy

This technique involves several surgical procedures to take the pressure off the spinal cord. The significant procedures include diskectomy, laminotomy or laminectomy, foraminotomy, osteophyte removal, and corpectomy.

How is Spinal Decompression Done?

You are asked to either lie face down or face up on a computer-controlled table for a non-surgical decompression session. The therapy specialist fits you with a harness around your trunk and another around your pelvis. He will operate the computer and customize the treatment according to your specific needs.

A single session may last 30 to 45 minutes. Compared to traditional surgical procedures, you may require more than 20 treatment sessions over five to seven weeks. Additionally, you may have other types of treatments before or after therapy, such as:

  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Ultrasound (sound waves that generate heat and promote healing) 
  • Electrical stimulation (the use of electric current to cause contraction of specific muscles)

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy Used For?

Physicians have used non-surgical spinal decompression therapy in an attempt to treat:

  • Neck or back 
  • Sciatica, which is a pain, weakness, or tingling sensations extending down the leg
  • Worn spinal joints (called posterior facet syndrome)
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Herniated or bulging disks
  • Diseases or injured spinal nerve roots

Who Should Not Have Spinal Decompression?

Ask your physician whether you are the right candidate for non-surgical or surgical spinal decompression. It's best not to have decompression sessions if you are pregnant. You also should not try it if you have

  • Fracture
  • Advanced osteoporosis
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Tumor
  • Metal implants in the spine