Nonsurgical spinal decompression is a type of motorized traction that helps relieve back pain. Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine. This takes pressure off the discs by creating negative pressure in the disc. As a result, bulging or herniated discs may retract, taking pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. Spinal decompression can also help with back pain from arthritis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, injuries and overuse.
How Is Spinal Decompression Different From Traction?
Regular traction stretches your spine and muscles simultaneously. But if you only stretch the spine, your body naturally “braces” for the next stretch, limiting the effectivness of the treatment. The “overall stretching” commonly used in traction can also trigger painful muscle spasms.
Decompression therapy is different from conventional spinal traction because it alternates between stretching and relaxation. The relaxation stages trick your body into staying relaxed and therefore maximizes the load and the effectiveness of the treatment. Decompression tables should also allow your doctor or therapist to target your treatment area in three different dimensions. This allows practitioners to target their treatment by isolating specific spinal discs, compared to traction, which often just “stretches” the entire spine.
Doctors use nonsurgical spinal decompression to treat:
- Back or neck pain
- Sciatica, which is pain, weakness, or tingling that extends down the leg
- Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
- Damaged spinal joints (called facet syndrome)
- Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots