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Spinal Decompression FAQs

Below are some Spinal Decompression FAQs. Hopefully these can help answer some questions that you may have!

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Spinal decompression therapy is FDA cleared and has a high success rate for pain associated with herniated or bulging discs…even after failed surgery. It is a non-surgical, traction based therapy for the relief of back and leg pain or neck and arm pain. During this procedure, by cycling through distraction and relaxation phases and by proper positioning, a spinal disc can be isolated and placed under negative pressure, causing a vacuum effect within it.

Why would a disc become compressed?
Excessive stress or injury to a disc weakens the outer fibers. As the outer fibers weaken, parts of the interior of the disc bulge out and the disc compresses or loses height. As it loses height, the vertebrae above and below get closer together decreasing the amount of space (spinal stenosis) through which the spinal nerve root exits.

As the bulge increases, the space decreases and the spinal nerve root that exits at that level is also compressed (pinched). This causes the muscles to spasms and inflame, which further diminishes the space for the nerve. This ultimately interferes with the normal pumping action supplying nutrition to the disc and the disc begins to degenerate because it is drier and weaker. Non-surgical spinal decompression or de-compression is designed to break this cycle.

How does it work?
Spinal decompression therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment. It is performed on a special, computer controlled table that can isolate a single disc level. By utilizing specific traction and relaxation cycles throughout the treatment, along with proper positioning, negative pressure can actually be created within the disc. It works by gently separating the offending disc 5 to 7 millimeters creating negative pressure (or a vacuum) inside the disc promoting the retraction of the bulging disc tissue. This negative pressure also pulls water, oxygen, and nutrients into the disc, thereby re-hydrating a degenerated disc and bringing in the nutrients needed to begin the healing process.

How does this negative pressure affect the injured disc?
Negative pressure is a vacuum type effect that is created by the disc during the Spinal Decompression treatment. This vacuum effect can actually help pull the herniated disc material back into the disc itself, allowing the outer part of the disc to heal.

What system is used for this purpose?
After a significant amount of research, our office chose the Kennedy Decompression table. More importantly, we have the brand new computerized head which is the most sophisticated and technologically advanced unit. We are constantly trying to offer our patients the BEST service and equipment we can find.

How is Spinal Decompression Therapy different from regular traction?
The award winning KDT computer is the key. It controls the variations in the traction pull allowing for spinal decompression and eliminating muscle guarding that is typical in conventional traction devices. The preprogrammed patterns for ramping up and down the amount of axial distraction allows for higher levels of spinal decompression and disc rehydration. This “state of the art” table has added built in features to accommodate for all body types, and conditions. We have the newest decompression table on the market and in our area.

Who can benefit from Spinal Decompression Therapy?
People suffering from back pain or neck pain caused by a damaged disc. It is effective for ruptured discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, facet syndrome, failed surgery.

Are there medical studies that document the effectiveness of Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Yes! Studies have documented up to 90% reduction of disc herniations in 10 of 14 cases, which has been shown on MRI! Other studies reported that the majority of ruptured disc patients achieved “good” to “excellent” results after spinal decompression therapy. (*please refer to the research section for more information).

Are there conditions where Spinal Decompression Therapy is not indicated?
You are not a candidate for spinal decompression if you have had a spinal surgery with instrumentation (screws, metals plates or “cages”), are pregnant or have severe osteoporosis, severe obesity or severe nerve damage. Spinal decompression therapy after bone fusion or non-fusion surgery can be performed.

Are the sessions painful and, how many will be needed?
In almost all cases, the treatments are completely painless. In fact, some patients fall asleep during the spinal decompression session. The number of sessions needed and your specific treatment plan will be determined by the doctor after your examination. Typically, twelve to twenty sessions are needed.

Do most patients receive therapy and rehabilitative exercises in addition to Spinal Decompression Therapy?
To reduce inflammation and assist the healing process, supporting structures may be treated with passive therapies (ice/heat/muscle stimulation), chiropractic adjustments (as indicated) and/or active rehabilitation in order to strengthen the spinal musculature.

What are Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?
When degenerative disc disease causes compression of the cervical nerve roots there may be shoulder pain, arm pain, and pain in the hand/fingers (neuritis, neuralgia, radiculitis), and may be associated with numbness and tingling (paresthesia). When degenerative disc disease causes compression of the lumbar nerve roots there may be butt pain, hip pain, leg pain, and pain in the foot/toes. This often is accompanied by muscle weakness in either the arm or leg.

How does Spinal Decompression Treatment help Degenerative Disc Disease?
Spinal Decompression Therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment performed on a special, computer controlled table. A single disc level is isolated and it works by gently separating the affected disc 5 to 7 millimeters creating negative pressure (or a vacuum) inside the disc to pull water, oxygen, and nutrients into the disc. This enables to degenerated disc to be re-hydrated and bring in the nutrients needed to heal the torn fibers and halt the degenerative process. As the disc is re-hydrated the shock absorbing properties are restored, and in many cases some of the lost height is restored as well, improving any spinal stenosis.

How does Spinal Decompression Treatment help Osteoarthritis / Degenerative Joint Disease?
Spinal Decompression Therapy reduces the “wear and tear” (biomechanical stresses) on the joint complex that is the primary cause of the formation of osteoarthritic bone damage. With less joint stress, the deterioration of cartilage and the build up of bone (osteoarthritis) that leads to pain and/or disability, is eliminated or slowed and the body can begin the process of repairing itself. In treating OA/DJD, spinal decompression works best in conjunction with advice from the doctor in developing good health habits, possible nutritional supplementation, proper water consumption, proper stretching and strengthening exercises, proper use of ice and heat, ways to relieve postural stress, weight loss, etc. These lifestyle changes can mean the difference between an active, vibrant life style and spending the final years of your life shuffling along behind a walker.

How do I get started?
Call the office to arrange a consultation with the doctor to find out if you are a candidate for Spinal Decompression.

Please remember to bring any MRI reports, etc., so we can review them and best advise you about your treatment options. If you have not been evaluated for your condition, we can fully evaluate you, including X-rays, MRI, etc., provided these are necessary.

No referral is needed and walk-ins are welcome. Your consultation will be complimentary and all fees will be discussed with you before treatment begins.

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