Frequently asked questions
Spinal decompression therapy is a revolutionary computer-aided technology that helps treat the symptoms of low back and neck pain from herniated, bulging, degenerated and slipped discs. Spinal decompression therapy is FDA-cleared and has been around for more than twenty years. There have been numerous successful research studies done on spinal decompression and there are currently more than 5,000 clinics in the U.S. and Canada that are performing spinal decompression therapy treatments. Every day more and more clinics are adding spinal decompression therapy as an alternative to surgery for patients suffering from herniated, bulging, degenerated, and slipped discs. Even when physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, pain pills and shots have failed, most patients still receive dramatic pain relief in 4 to 6 weeks of spinal decompression therapy.
FDA-cleared spinal decompression therapy technology treats symptoms of back pain due to:
Sciatica (leg pain)
Decompression is achieved by using a specific combination of force of pull, angle in degree of pull and varying time in order to create a negative pressure inside the discs of the spinal cord. This reversal of pressure creates a vacuum inside the disc that helps to draw in bulging discs and extruded disc material back into place, taking pressure off pinched or irritated nerves. Spinal experts believe that nutrients, oxygen, and fluids are drawn into the disc to create a revitalized environment conducive to healing for both herniated and degenerated discs. Based on the patient’s body weight, tolerance, level of severity, and duration of symptoms your spinal decompression therapy specialist will determine a specific treatment plan based on your individual needs. This will help to ensure the most long lasting results.
At the beginning of each session, you will be comfortably fitted with a harness designed to achieve optimal decompression of the low back or neck. During a session of spinal decompression therapy, you will notice a slow lengthening of your spine as your discs are gradually decompressed and relieved of pressure. The treatment process is safe and relaxing. While some patients with extensively injured discs have reported mild discomfort during the first few treatment sessions, their discomfort generally subsides upon subsequent visits. A patient safety switch provides an extra safety feature, allowing you to stop at any point should you feel discomfort. Each treatment session lasts approximately 30 minutes.
A typical spinal decompression therapy treatment protocol consists of about 12–20 sessions over four to six weeks. Some conditions require fewer visits; some require more. Many patients report relief from their pain and other symptoms during the first few treatment sessions, and most experience dramatic pain relief after completion of their prescribed treatment program.
While traction, physical therapy, inversion tables and manipulation may reduce disc pressures to as low as 40 mmHg, only spinal decompression therapy has been shown to achieve negative pressures within the spine. It has been clinically proven that spinal decompression therapy creates negative pressures as low as -110 mmHg within the injured disc during the treatment session. Normally, pulls exerted on the spine trigger sensory receptors in the back to tighten the muscles surrounding the vertebrae and discs in an effort to protect them from injury, a mechanism in the body known as the proprioceptor response. This typically includes muscle guarding and muscle spasms. Spinal decompression therapy bypasses this response by slowly pulling on the spine and relaxing the back over an extended period of time, allowing the discs to be repositioned without tension and without setting off muscle guarding and spasms. It is important for patients to make sure that they are treated on a high quality spinal decompression therapy table by a physician with years of experience and not an imitation spinal decompression therapy table to ensure best results.
Based on our experience with spinal decompression therapy and thousands of patients treated we have noticed that the overall success rate is approximately 80%. We consider this success rate to be very good considering most of our patients have “tried everything else” with minimal or no relief, are at least a 6/10 VAS pain level and have been experiencing their pain for greater than 6 weeks. Approximately 20% of patients will start seeing relief of pain within the first week. Approximately 40% of patients will have significant relief within 2–3 weeks. The remaining 20% will get significant relief between 4–6 weeks. Less than 20% will experience no relief or minimal relief. Very rarely will a patient get worse.
The following conditions may qualify for spinal decompression therapy treatment. Always consult a spinal decompression therapy specialist to see if you are a candidate for spinal decompression therapy. Candidates for spinal decompression therapy include the following.
Diagnosis of a herniated, bulging or degenerated disc
Back pain persisting for more than three weeks
Recurrent pain from a failed back surgery that is more than six months old
Persistent pain from arthritis
Patient at least 18 years of age
Always consult a spinal decompression therapy specialist to see if you are a candidate for spinal decompression therapy. The following conditions may disqualify a patient for spinal decompression therapy treatment:
Hardware in the spine such as screws and rods
Prior lumbar fusion less than six months old
Metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread to the bones)
Grade 3 and 4 spondylolisthesis. Grade 1 or Grade 2 spondylolisthesis are treatable
Recent compression fracture of lumbar spine
Pathologic aortic aneurysm
Pelvic or abdominal cancer
Disc space infections
Consult your physician if you have any questions about the conditions above.
Most patients do not experience any major side effects. The most common side effect is a dull, achy soreness for the first week or two as the body becomes accustomed to being stretched and decompressed. Spinal decompression stretches muscles in a lengthening direction which the body is generally not used to. Because of this patients may experience a dull, achy soreness that they often describe as “it feels like I just worked out for the first time in a long time.” Very rarely do patients have an increase in the pain that they came in with.
Patients with acute, severe disc herniations may experience some pain during the first week or two until the herniation retracts back in taking pressure off of the nerves. Acute disc herniation patients tend to experience more “up and down” types of relief from their pain for the first 2 weeks as an acute disc herniation can be slightly unpredictable. Regardless of the mild soreness experienced in the first week or two, most patients experience 50% relief or more of their pain around the end of the second week.
Overall spinal decompression therapy is considered safe and comfortable. The system has emergency stop switches for both the patient and the operator. These switches terminate the treatment immediately if a patient experiences any increase in pain or discomfort during the treatment thereby avoiding most injuries.
In many cases, spinal decompression therapy treatment is not contra-indicated for patients that have had spinal surgery. In fact many patients have found success with spinal decompression therapy even after a failed back surgery. After a failed Laminectomy or Micro Discectomy patients may still respond favorably to spinal decompression therapy. If a patient has had more than 3 laminectomies then the success rate of spinal decompression therapy will go down. If a patient has had surgical fusion with rods or screws or any type of hardware then patients may not qualify for spinal decompression therapy. Always consult your spinal decompression therapy specialist to see if you qualify for spinal decompression therapy.