Basics of Spinal Decompression Therapy

Basics of Spinal Decompression Therapy

Spinal Decompression Therapy in San Diego at Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center

Spinal decompression therapy is a proven safe and effective way to treat chronic, severe neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine) conditions. This therapy focuses on disc and arthritic disorders of the spine. Spinal decompression therapy has n 85-90% success rate, with one study reporting immediate resolution of symptoms in 86% of participants. The results of spinal decompression therapy vary, depending on your particular condition, how long you have had this disorder, and your willingness to adhere to the treatment plan.

How is spinal decompression therapy done?

Excessive compression forces from work and usual activities increase the internal disc pressure, which leads to disc bulging, protrusion, and herniation of the inner disc material. Spinal decompression therapy is a non-surgical traction procedure that is successful in relieving pain associated with the pressure. The therapy works by decompressing spinal discs and facet joints, using traction, body positioning, and distraction measures. Studies show that a spinal disc injury is responsible for many neck and low back pain syndromes.


What conditions does spinal decompression treat?

Spinal decompression therapy is used to treat disc herniations, degenerative disc disease, facet joint syndrome, spinal stenosis, spinal arthritis, failed back surgery syndrome, and post-surgical pain syndrome.

Does this treatment give permanent relief of pain?

Our program is designed to bring lasting relief to help avoid ongoing therapy. We include an active exercise component into the program along with a home care protocol to teach back strengthening exercises. For some severe cases, follow-up, supportive care is required.

How long does each treatment take and how long will I be treated?

Usually, each spinal decompression therapy visit is between 30 to 45 minutes. A full course of treatments takes between 4 and 8 weeks, depending on what you are being treated for and the severity of your condition. Most patients report an immediate improvement in symptoms, but some do not feel the full benefits for several weeks. Your doctor will perform periodic evaluations to determine your progress and to make changes in your therapy program.

Who is NOT a candidate for spinal decompression therapy?

Several conditions will not respond to spinal decompression therapy, and it is contraindicated for certain people. You should not have this treatment if you suffer from severe osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis, cancer, tumors, post-surgical conditions with hardware (plates, screws, rods, and cages), or if you have had a recent spinal fusion procedure. The San Diego pain doctor will discuss your medical history during the consultation to make sure you are a candidate for the therapy.


What are the reasons that people do not respond to spinal decompression therapy?

The most common reason that patients do not get better with decompression therapy is that they do not comply with their doctor’s treatment prescriptions. Because most patients have family and work obligations, we work diligently to schedule the therapy at a convenient time.

Does spinal decompression therapy yield lasting results?

Some studies show an impressive 90% success rate in treating the pain associated with degenerative and herniated discs. The reoccurrence rate after one year is only 4%. Usually, the patient does not require additional treatments after completing a series of spinal decompression therapy treatments. However, as with any treatment, there are severe cases that do not respond, and require re-evaluation.

Why the need for other therapies?

Because many injuries to spinal discs are accompanied by problems with supporting muscles, a complete physical therapy program will target the function of the spine stabilizing muscles as well. Therapies that are used along with spinal decompression therapy include moist heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, dry needling, and soft tissue and joint mobilization. When used in combination, these therapies offer additional benefits for reducing muscle spasm and inflammation.

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