Back pain, especially lower back pain, is one of the most common reasons for Americans to seek medical treatment. While most back pain results from acute damage to the muscles and ligaments of the back, it can also be caused by damage to the discs or other structures of the spine, resulting in chronic pain. In such cases, spinal decompression therapy may be a strong option for treatment.
Spinal decompression therapy can be used to treat any condition that results at least partially from a damaged disc and disc compression issues, whether in the neck or back. The intervertebral discs lie between the vertebrae of the spine. They serve as shock protectors, absorbing the impact of everyday movement and preventing the vertebrae from rubbing against one another.
Each disc is composed of two parts: a gel-like, inner nucleus pulposus, and a firmer, outer annulus fibrosus. The intervertebral discs are composed of cartilage, which is very poorly vascularized. Because cartilage receives little blood, and the discs constantly bear weight, they do not heal on their own. Damage to the discs may occur as a result of aging, disease, or injury. Conditions include:
Bulging disc: the disc becomes "flattened" and wider than normal, but remains intact; it resembles a hamburger too big for its bun
Herniated disc: the annulus fibrosus ruptures, allowing the nucleus pulposus to bulge out
Degenerative disc disease: degeneration occurs in more than one disc of the spine
All of these conditions cause pain in the same way: by pressing against the nerves of the spine. Patients may experience pain in the back or limbs, as well as neurological symptoms such as muscle weakness and tingling or numbness in the limbs. These conditions are most common in the lumbar spine, which bears the most weight; for this reason, damage to the discs is a common cause of sciatica.
Traditional treatments for damaged discs include physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), epidural steroid injections, and surgery. Non-surgical treatments are aimed towards reducing the load borne by the discs, or reducing inflammation. Surgery involves the removal of some or all of the disc, which can reduce the overall integrity of the spine.
How it Works
Spinal decompression therapy helps restore normal function to the discs. During spinal decompression therapy, the patient lays on their back or stomach, with their legs slightly elevated. The patient is carefully positioned in such a way that the affected vertebrae is isolated. Then, the machine gently pulls and then releases, cycles called distraction and relaxation. During the pulling phase, a vacuum effect is created. The pressure on the disc is relieved, allowing the disc to slowly regain its original shape, relieving the pressure on the nerves. The therapy also helps the discs to receive elevated levels of oxygen and nutrients, promoting healing.
It is generally paired with spinal stabilization exercises. Spinal decompression therapy is effective in up to 84% of cases, and patients usually remain in remission; however, maintenance can be performed when necessary.
SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers in Belmont, NC has the experience and wherewithal to evaluate your current condition, assess whether you are an ideal candidate for spinal decompression treatments, and to perform the procedures in their convenient location. To find out whether spinal decompression is the right treatment for you, schedule an assessment today. We have also attached one of our fantastic, free whitepapers on treatment of nerve pain, available for download by clicking the image below. We will gladly shoot it over to your inbox, and as always, we respect your privacy and will never share your personal contact information.