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 will take pressure off the spinal disks, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine.
Proponents of this treatment say that over time, negative pressure from this therapy may cause bulging or herniated disks to retract. That can take pressure off the 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 (called radiculopathy)
More research is needed to establish the safety and effectiveness of nonsurgical spinal decompression. To know how effective it really is, researchers need to compare spinal decompression with other less expensive alternatives to surgery. These include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Physical therapy
- Limited rest
- Steroid injections
How Is Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression Done?
You are fully clothed during spinal decompression therapy. The doctor fits you with a harness around your pelvis and another around your trunk. You either lie face down or face up on a computer-controlled table.
Treatment may last 30 to 45 minutes and you may require at minimum 6, up to 28 treatments. Before or after therapy, you will have other types of treatment to increase the effectiveness of decompression, such as chiropractic and physical therapy.