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What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal Decompression therapy is a method of relieving back and/or leg pain that involves using a traction table or other motorized device to stretch the spine. Doctors refer to this as nonsurgical decompression therapy, since there are invasive surgical decompression methods including laminectomy and microdiscectomy. This therapy is normally used to treat bulging or herniated discs in the spine and promote healing of nerves and muscles around the affected area. Many chiropractic doctors use this treatment alongside adjustments or other spinal manipulation methods.

Herniated discs occur when the vertebrae in the spine become misaligned, pressing on nerves and potentially rubbing up against other vertebrae. This not only causes nerve blockage, but also the potential deterioration of the discs themselves and the muscles around them. When left untreated, herniated discs can be quite painful and lead to permanent damage and loss of mobility in the affected area. The condition can be caused by a number of things including injury or overuse, or can build up overtime due to poor posture or abnormal movements.

When patients with herniated discs are prescribed spinal decompression therapy, there are two goals in mind. The first is to promote re-positioning of the bulging disc material by reducing pressure on the affected area. The second is to increase the flow of healing nutrients and oxygen through the injured disc in order to help the area recover. Studies of nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy have been a bit mixed, although the treatment method has been shown to be equally effective, if not more so, than other manipulation methods. At this point, more clinical research needs to be conducted in order for more doctors to recommend the therapy to their patients. For now, interested parties can talk to their wellness team about adding it to their recover plans. It may be a less painful (and less costly) alternative to invasive surgery, and could promote a faster recovery process.

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