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Spinal Decompression Therapy

If you have lasting back pain and other related symptoms, you know how disruptive to your life it can be. You may be unable to think of little else except finding relief. Some people turn to spinal decompression therapy -- either surgical or nonsurgical. Here's what you need to know to help decide whether it might be right for you.


What Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression?

Nonsurgical spinal decompression is a type of motorized traction that may help relieve back pain. Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine. That changes the force and position of the spine. This change takes pressure off the spinal disks, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine, by creating negative pressure in the disc. As a result, bulging or herniated disks may retract, taking pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. This in turn, helps promote movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disks so they can heal.

Doctors have used nonsurgical spinal decompression in an attempt to treat:

  • Back or neck pain or sciatica, which is pain, weakness, or tingling that extends down the leg
  • Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
  • Worn spinal joints (called posterior facet syndrome)
  • Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots


How Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression Done?

You are fully clothed during spinal decompression therapy. For low back decompression therapy, you lie on your back and the doctor fits you with a harness around your pelvis and another around your trunk. For neck decompression therapy, you lie on your back with your head cradled gently in the traction device. A doctor operates the computer controlled table, customizing treatment to your specific needs.