How Effective Is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy?
In a recent study published in Orthopedic Technology Review, Decompression Therapy was shown to be 86% effective in treating Herniated Degenerative Discs, and Back Pain. Another study published in Anesthesiology News showed that after 4 years, over 91% remained pain-free.
In the Journal of Neurological Research VOL 20, NO 4, researchers stated: “We consider decompression therapy to be a primary treatment modality for low back pain associated with the lumbar disc herniation at single or multiple levels, degenerative disc disease, facet arthropathy, and decreased spine mobility. We believe that post-surgical patients with persistent pain or “Failed Back Syndrome” should not be considered candidates for further surgery until a reasonable trial of decompression has been tried.”
In the Journal of Neurological Research VOL 23, NO 7, October 2001 the researchers stated: “Decompression therapy, addresses both primary and secondary causes of low back and referred neck and leg pain. We thus submit that Decompression therapy should be considered first before the patient undergoes a surgical procedure which permanently alters the anatomy and function of the affected lumbar spine segment.”
What Causes Spinal Pain or Back Pain?
The spinal column is compromised of bones that protect the spinal cord like armor plating. The spinal cord is comprised of nerves that send signals down from your brain to communicate, control, and coordinate your whole body function. When nerves become irritated, they don’t function properly resulting in pain and loss of function. Nerves are very sensitive to even the slightest irritation. Bottom line, if the nerves aren’t happy, you’re not happy.
What are the Discs?
In order to be able to move, we have flexible discs between our spinal bones that are called vertebrae. The discs maintain the spaces where these nerves can exit connecting to other parts of the body. They also act as shock absorbers to protect both the spine, and it’s precious cargo, our nerves. The center of each disc has a soft center called the Nucleus Pulposus that is responsible for most of the cushioning function. The outer fibrous ring of the disc is called the Annulus Fibrosis and its job is to keep the Nucleus Pulposus within the disc from escaping and causing problems.
What is a Pinched Nerve or Slipped Disc?
Sometimes, this occurs fast like a flat tire on a car or a slow leak over time that causes bone spurs to form. Either way, the end result is the same…pain, dysfunction, and disability. Repeated shock and trauma cause the discs to wear out prematurely in a process of spinal decay otherwise known as Degenerative Disc Disease or Arthritis. The disc becomes flattened and your own spine begins to clamp down on the nerves themselves causing pain. Like a jelly donut that gets squished, the Nucleus Fibrosis can be extruded touching the nerves causing chemical irritation and mechanical friction. This is what happens with a Disc Bulge or Herniation. When nerves become irritated, they don’t function properly.
Why are the Nerves so Significant?
Some of the nerves are functional, others are sensory. Sensory nerves conduct sensations like pain, numbness, tingling, heat, cold, taste, smell etc. Functional nerves control body functions like your heartbeat, blood pressure, sweat, a release of hormones, muscular control etc. There are roughly 9 times as many functional nerves in the body vs. sensory. Of the sensory nerves, maybe 4% are responsible for the sensation of pain. Nerve bundles contain both functional and sensory nerves. That means it’s impossible to separate the dysfunction of one from the other. By the time your pain starts to get noticeably worse, you’ve lost considerably more nerve function without even knowing it.
How Soon Can I Expect Results?
A reduction in symptoms including pain usually occurs after the first week of treatment. Significant improvement is typically seen by the second week of treatment. That being said, it’s important to finish the entire treatment protocol for lasting results.
What is the Basic Treatment Protocol?
The treatment protocol involves 20 to 24 treatments depending on the individual and the severity of their condition. Individual decompression treatments require approximately 30 minutes per session and are performed daily during the first two weeks. Treatments are performed for patient tolerance. The subsequent two week period involves three treatments per week. For the remaining two weeks, the patient is treated twice weekly. If medically necessary, more treatments will be provided.
What Else Can I Do To Get Better Faster?
Usually, when patients become inactive due to injury or have been in pain for a long time, physical therapy and rehabilitation may be medically necessary. The whole idea is for patients to be able to reliably perform “Activities of Daily Living” and return to work without further risk of injury. This is sometimes referred to as “Work Hardening” or “Occupational Therapy”. This is done to improve range of motion, strength, endurance, balance, and coordination. Similarly, the doctor may recommend health and lifestyle changes including a healthy diet, nutritional counseling, nutritional supplements, and weight loss. It’s what we do, and we’re good at it. Our Spinal Decompression Pinellas Park program goes a long way towards maintaining your current gains and preventing future injuries.
Do I Qualify for Spinal Decompression Treatment?
That’s a question posed often by both Doctors and Patients alike. While we don’t shy away from difficult cases, the proper patient selection is important. Not everyone is a candidate for Spinal Decompression Therapy. If you have the following, you may be a candidate for Spinal Decompression Therapy:
1. Disc Pain exceeding 4 Weeks Time
2. Recurrent Pain due to Failed Back Surgery exceeding 6 Months Time
3. Persistent Pain due to Disc Degeneration Un-Responsive to Treatment > 4Weeks
4. Patients Unable to Complete Treatment Protocol of 4 Weeks
5. Must be 18 Years of Age
You may be disqualified from Spinal Decompression Therapy if you have the following:
1. Surgical Appliances i.e. pedicle hardware (screws and rods)
2. Prior lumbar fusion less than six months old
3. Metastatic Cancer
4. Severe Osteoporosis
5. Unstable Spondylolisthesis
6. Recent Compression Fracture of Lumbar Spine
7. Pars Defects
8. Pathologic Aortic Aneurysm
9. Pelvic or Abdominal Cancer
10. Infections of the Disc Space
11. Severe Peripheral Neuropathy
12. Hemiplegia, Paraplegia, or Cognitive Dysfunction
Are There any Side Effects on the Treatment?
Side effects are uncommon. Muscle spasms may occur for a short period of time after treatment. Our treatment protocol is designed to promote patient healing and comfort.
Is Spinal Decompression Therapy Safe?
Yes. It is an excellent alternative to any invasive surgical procedure. Spinal Decompression Therapy in Pinellas Park is both safe, and comfortable for patients. There are emergency stop switches for both the patient and the operator. The switches stop treatment IMMEDIATELY preventing any risk of injury, and were a requirement for obtaining FDA Clearance.
Is Spinal Decompression Therapy FDA Cleared?
Absolutely. Our clinic prides itself on using the most advanced technologies available. It’s our way of assuring good outcomes for not just patient’s, but their families and friends alike. We take the matter of patient referrals very seriously. Patient satisfaction is everything to us. We use the latest modern evidence-based guidelines and treatment protocols developed over years of clinical research and personal experience. Know anyone that could use our help? Give us a call.
How is Spinal Decompression Therapy Different than Traction?
In most disc injuries, the natural pumping mechanism breaks down causing a failure in disc integrity. Restoring the disc’s natural pumping mechanism is key.
Leaky Disc + Broken Pump = Flat or Blown Disc
Traction is static, causes painful muscle spasms, and can’t replicate the natural pumping action. Spinal Decompression is a dynamic process that creates a vacuum inside the disc sucking in the herniation along with healing nutrients so that the disc can repair itself over time. This allows the fibroblasts to seal leaks thereby re-hydrating the disc. The pumping action flushes out waste products while simultaneously pushing in healthy nutrients for rapid healing. The intensity of the decompression is varied in both degree and force to produce a gentle rhythmic pull along a logarithmic curve. This is needed to prevent the muscle spasm / guarding typically of traction. It’s the avoidance of this response that enables us to target one specific disc at a time.