Over the years, the discs that separate our vertebrae take a beating. In some cases, they bulge or herniate, causing unremitting back pain. Fortunately, there is a variety of approaches for treating back pain caused by injured discs, including spinal decompression.
Matthew Berman, a chiropractic physician with Berman Chiropractic and Wellness, describes the procedure. “This treatment option is very safe and utilizes FDA-cleared equipment to apply distraction forces to spinal structures in a precise and graduated manner,” he says. The technique gently separates the vertebrae from each other, creating a vacuum inside the discs. “The negative pressure, or vacuum effect, may induce the retraction of the herniated or bulging disc into the inside of the disc and off the nerve root,” Berman explains. The vacuum within the disc also increases blood supply to the area, helping to reduce pain and promote healing at the injured site.
Spinal decompression therapy is painless and effective for treating bulging or herniated discs, pinched nerves, sciatica, radiating arm pain, degenerative disc disease, leg pain, and facet syndromes. Berman typically treats a patient two to three times per week for four to eight weeks, although the course of treatment varies depending on the individual condition.
Treatments generally take about 20 minutes, during which the patient lies on a special table fitted with a harness adjusted to provide the proper amount of tension. Some patients find the treatments so comfortable, they doze off. “It is important to remember that pain subsiding does not mean your discs and spine are healed,” Berman cautions. “It‘s critical that patients stick with the treatment protocol prescribed by their practitioners in order to achieve the full value of spinal decompression therapy.”
“Once maximum pain relief has been achieved and the patient is stable we recommend a ‘tune up’ session, usually monthly, depending on the case, to maintain the effects,” says Robert Elder, D.C., of Metro Chiropractic and Nutritional Wellness Centre, who also performs spinal decompression therapy. “Patients really enjoy the treatment and look forward to their next visit because it feels so good.”
Spinal decompression is different from other types of traction therapies in that computerized equipment helps create the proper tension and pull patterns, giving the treatment a high-tech advantage. However, Elder notes, the original causes for the patient’s back problems also must be addressed. “Otherwise it’s like putting new tires on a car that’s out of alignment,” he says.
One primary advantage of spinal decompression is that the procedure is noninvasive and does not carry the types of risks associated with surgery or long-term medication use, Elder adds. “It is a very effective, affordable, non-surgical treatment that, I believe, can make a big difference in a person’s life.” And, he says, “As a herniated disc sufferer myself, I have benefited greatly from my own spinal decompression treatments.”