Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression
Maybe you wince as sharp pain radiates down your legs and into your feet, making it difficult to walk, drive or even sleep. Or perhaps your discomfort only affects your lower back, and you’re stuck dealing with a constant ache no matter what you do. Ice packs don’t work for you, heating pads have little to no effect, and other over-the-counter remedies haven’t helped much either.
Back pain can be unbearable, and you may find yourself wondering what — if anything — will finally make you feel better. It’s easy to feel discouraged or even hopeless after numerous failed treatments, but we’re here to help. Many of our patients experience relief after trying spinal decompression, a nonsurgical treatment for lumbar pain and sciatica.
What Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression?
Nonsurgical spinal decompression, also called spinal decompression therapy, is a noninvasive treatment that gently stretches your spine. As you lay face-up on a comfortable table, the decompression device moves your spine using motorized traction. This creates negative pressure in your spinal discs by carefully coaxing them back to their intended positions.
Back pain and sciatica often occur when the discs in your back slip out of place, known as herniation or bulging. When discs move to new spots, they can press on your spinal nerves or rub against your tissue. This can damage your muscles and ligaments, either temporarily or permanently. The severity of your condition depends on the position of the herniated disc and how long it remains untreated.
Spinal decompression therapy triggers your body’s natural healing process. As discs move, your body releases trapped fluid, oxygen and other essential nutrients for recovery. These nutrients nourish your body, enhancing recovery and helping decrease pain from inflammation or damaged spinal nerves.
What Are the Benefits of Spinal Decompression?
Spinal decompression has numerous benefits for patients who need help with pain management. Decompression therapy can reduce discomfort from an acute flare-up of low back pain, but it also helps patients with chronic pain.
Here are some benefits you may experience from nonsurgical spinal decompression:
1. Herniated Disc Retraction
Your body knows when discs are in the wrong place, but here’s the kicker: It might not care. Unfortunately, the human body often adapts to a misaligned spine, even when disc herniation causes significant pain. Spinal decompression therapy helps gently nudge herniated discs back where they belong so you can experience extended relief.
2. Improved Fluid Circulation
When fluids are trapped or blocked in your body, damaged tissue may not get the nutrients they need. Spinal decompression encourages circulation by moving discs to their correct positions. This helps fluids flow through areas that were previously blocked, boosting your body’s ability to heal itself.
3. Surgery Prevention
Patients who are considering a discectomy or spinal fusion often tell us that we’re their last hope for pain relief. Spinal decompression therapy helps many patients avoid surgery, and you may not even need therapeutic injections if decompression is successful.
4. Reduced Nerve Pressure
Out-of-whack discs often press against your nerves, resulting in pain, inflammation, tingling or numbness. Spinal decompression creates negative pressure in your body, which means discs stop interfering with spinal nerves. After a few sessions, you may notice a decrease in swelling and nerve pain.
5. Prompt Relief
A solo session of spinal decompression therapy is unlikely to fix your spine, but you may notice some immediate relief. Many of our patients tell us they feel like themselves again after just a few visits. However, it’s important to keep coming for your scheduled decompression sessions until your spine recovers to its maximum ability.
Are You a Good Candidate for Spinal Decompression?
Spinal decompression benefits many of our patients, but it’s not right for everyone. We can help you decide if decompression therapy is right for you during a no-pressure consultation with our knowledgeable team. We’ll perform a physical exam, review X-rays or other digital imaging and develop a treatment plan tailored toward your needs.
With that being said, we can give you an idea of which patients often do well with decompression therapy. Here are some symptoms and conditions that may respond well to decompression treatments:
- Lumbar pain, either acute or chronic
- Bulging or herniated discs in the lower back
- Degenerative disc disorders
- Injured spinal nerves
- Spinal stenosis
- Posterior facet syndrome
- Worn spinal joints
There are also some patients who should avoid nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy, even if they meet the criteria above. Let our team know if any of the following factors apply:
- You are pregnant or nursing
- You have a tumor in your spine or a nearby area
- Your spine is fractured, even if the fracture is small
- You have spinal hardware, such as rods or screws
- You had a lumbar fusion less than 6 months ago
- You have cancer in the abdomen or pelvic region
- You have cancer in your bones
- You have a pathologic aortic aneurysm
- Your spondylolisthesis is classified as grade 3 or grade 4
If spinal decompression isn’t a good fit for your treatment plan, don’t worry — we’re able to offer other treatment options, such as physical therapy or acupuncture therapy.
FAQs about Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression
We understand that trying new remedies for sciatica or back pain can be scary, especially if you don’t fully understand your treatment plan. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about decompression therapy or any of our other services at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine. To help you prepare for your appointment, we’ve compiled some of our most popular questions below.
Does spinal decompression hurt?
Rarely. In fact, most of our patients love this therapeutic treatment. A spinal decompression treatment is a great time to read a book, daydream or take a nap as our therapy table gently stretches your spine.
Occasionally, patients experience minor discomfort or muscle spasms from decompression therapy. Always let our team know how you’re feeling after a session so we can adjust your treatment plan when necessary.
Is spinal decompression safe?
Generally, yes — in fact, spinal decompression is much safer than back surgery for most patients. Our knowledgeable team can help you determine if decompression therapy is appropriate for your condition. If we determine that it isn’t, we’ll recommend other services, such as physical therapy or MLS laser therapy.
How long does spinal decompression therapy take?
A typical decompression therapy treatment at our New Jersey offices takes approximately 45 minutes, with multiple follow-up sessions of the same length typically scheduled in the weeks after.
How many spinal decompression sessions do you need?
You may require multiple appointments over a period of weeks or months before you get the results you want from decompression therapy. Treatment duration depends on how severe your condition is, whether you receive other treatments at the same time, your lifestyle choices and your body’s reaction to decompression.
However, patients often visit us 10 to 20 times over a period of 4 to 6 weeks for decompression therapy.
Discover How Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression Can Help You
The spinal decompression table may look intimidating, but it’s actually a valuable tool for patients battling spinal pain or sciatica. Connect with us today if you are curious how nonsurgical spinal decompression can impact your recovery process. We have offices scattered throughout Monmouth County and Ocean County, New Jersey, so it’s easy to find an office near your home, work or school.
Don’t let pain keep you from doing the things you love. Reach out to NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine for valuable information about how we can help you heal.