Spinal decompression is an FDA cleared type of therapy that uses a traction table or another similar device to gently stretch the spine.  The goal of spinal decompression is to relieve back and leg pain and to create a better healing environment for back issues such as bulging, herniated, or degenerating discs.  The negative pressure that results from spinal decompression is thought to promote repositioning of bulging or herniated disc material.  It is also believed to increase the water, oxygen, and other healing nutrients to the disc to promote faster and more effective healing.

Spinal Decompression Process

Spinal decompression offers a non-surgical option for patients who are suffering from back pain, herniated, bulging, or degenerating discs and other issues associated with the spine.  During a session you will lie on a computer controlled motorized table, fully clothed.  The type of table used by your doctor will determine if you will be lying face down or face up.  The lower half of the table will move while the top half of the table remains stationary.  Your doctor will place a harness around your hips and attach it to the lower part of the table.  Your upper body will also be fitted with a harness which will be attached to the upper part of the table.

The therapy session itself will typically be a series of anywhere from 15 to 30 treatments every four to six weeks, though treatment can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your treatment and how well your body responds to the spinal decompression process.  These spinal decompression treatments last between 30 and 45 minutes.  Depending on your specific issue and treatment requirements, your doctor may combine the spinal decompression therapy with additional treatment options such as cold or heat therapy or even electric stimulation.  These additional therapies may be done before, after or during your spinal decompression session.  Each additional therapy has different benefits that can help treat your specific condition.  You can discuss these additional options with your doctor to find out if they may be something that is right for you.

Does Spinal Decompression Hurt?

It is very rare for a patient to experience any pain during spinal decompression therapy.  However, you will feel the stretch in your spine.  Due to the gentle nature of spinal decompression therapy most patients do not experience pain during a session and it isn’t unheard of for patients to actually fall asleep while on the traction table.

The negative space created during spinal decompression can help relieve pain and pressure on degenerating, herniated, and bulging discs.  In addition it is also a treatment for sciatica.  Many patients report a noticeable improvement after the first few sessions.  However, it is important to continue the therapy as recommended by your doctor in order to achieve optimum results.

In the event that you begin to notice additional back, neck, leg or arm pain after you undergo spinal decompression therapy you should notify your doctor immediately and spinal decompression therapy should be stopped.  It is possible that you may have an underlying condition that you and your doctor may not have been aware of.  Or your body may not respond well to spinal decompression therapy and you may not be a good candidate.

Cost of Spinal Decompression Treatments

The cost of a spinal decompression treatment can range in price from $30 to $200.  You will want to check with your insurance company to see if they cover spinal decompression treatment to help save you money on the expense of the therapy.

It is important to note that it is not always in your best interest to go with the least expensive option.  Be sure that you speak with your doctor and find a practitioner that makes you feel comfortable and has your best interests in mind.

Additional Tips for Spinal Decompression Therapy

It is important to follow the instructions given by your doctor prior to each spinal decompression session.  These instructions may include drinking more water, extra rest, using supplements, and performing back strengthening exercises.  Likewise, it is important to advise your doctor about all health concerns and issues before undergoing spinal decompression therapy.  Prior to the procedure you will need to advise if you are pregnant, have or had a broken vertebrae, have a fused spine, any artificial discs or other spine implants, or if you’ve had back surgery.  Other health concerns you will want to mention include if you suffer from osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, spinal tumors, spinal infections, and any other condition that may have an impact on your spine.  It is important that your doctor is aware of any injuries you’ve sustained as well.  By providing this information you and your doctor can work together to create a treatment plan that will work best for you and your unique situation.

If you have any questions about spinal decompression therapy or would like to set up an appointment, please call Epic Healthcare & Physical Medicine of Flower Mound.