First, What Is Spinal Decompression?
It’s FDA cleared medical equipment used to apply axial distraction forces to spinal structures in a precise and graduated manner. This gently separates the vertebrae in the spine creating multiple benefits,including a ‘vacuum effect’ to reduce any existing disc bulges or herniations.
What Does This Mean For You?
Spinal decompression can be used for patients suffering from abrupt low back pain or neck pain due to disc herniations or minor temporary bulges.
These can happen from a deadlift gone wrong, pushing heavy weight overheard, and sometimes as simple as putting on a sock! In these instances,most patients state their back goes into spasm and it’s hard to get out of their car, they have a lot of pain if they sit for too long and try to stand up, and something as simple as coughing can be excruciating! Whether the neck or low back pain is new and severe, or chronic and less painful; all instances can be treated with spinal decompression. In more chronic cases, patients complain of getting “tight in their low back and hips” after running for a period of time, sitting for too long at work, and lifting repetitively (for example putting a newborn in and out of a crib or moving apartments). Spinal decompression is a corrective form of care to get patients out of that plateau if they are still noticing they are limited in their day to day life.
What Other Things Can Be Treated With Spinal Decompression?
Degenerative disc disease
Radiating neck pain
Chronic low back pain/neck pain
Facet Syndrome (this is when the joints in the spine are too close together and are creating a pain response ie. When a patient bends backwards and feels a pinch in their low back or neck)
Tingling in the arms and legs (when this is due to nerve compression coming from the nerve root).
How Many Sessions Will This Take,and Does it Hurt?
Every patient is different, that being said Dr. Claire can typically get results within three to six visits, and most often the patient experiences some form of relief day one. Some patients depending on arthritis or being post-operative in more extreme cases, may need more maintenance care. Meaning treatment once every couple months to maintain results. On the flip side, others may never need to seek spinal decompression out again or need a simple tune up one to two times a year depending on their lifestyle.
Spinal Decompression is NOT supposed to hurt while the patient is receiving treatment. Sometimes the patient can feel a little sore the next day as if they had gone to the gym and feeling some muscle soreness.
Dr. Claire has used spinal decompression with athletes that have herniated a disc the same day, to 90-year old’s that have had disc degeneration and arthritis that want a better quality of life without taking extra pain medication.
With a customized treatment plan that can include spinal decompression, specific exercises, shockwave, and other forms of hands on treatment, the patient is set on a path to relief and longevity.
Spinal Decompression is Also Preventative!
Not only does it aid in pain reduction and better quality of life, it also reduces the rate of arthritis! We live in a world of gravity, stress, and desk jobs. For Vancouverites this also includes tumbles and falls whether that’s from outdoors or in a climbing gym. All of these things can reduce spine mobility, the vertebrae get close together due to impact and do not move in their normal fluid motion. At the time of injury this is important to protect us from fractures and spinal cord compromise, but in the long run if our vertebrae are stuck together this creates abnormal forces. When the forces of gravity and other pressures are applied to the spine and it moves in an abnormal way (ie. it’s stuck together and moves like a giant stick than fluid separate blocks) this accelerates the growth of arthritis in the spine where bone will build on bone due to abnormal stress. This is called Wolff’s Law and can accelerate degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease (facet arthritis and foraminal stenosis).Keeping the discs healthy and the facet joints open that connect the vertebrae together is important for spinal longevity.
At the same time when it comes to performing exercises that are weighted and functional this is when increased bone growth is beneficial! This keeps the bones themselves healthy and reduces the risk of fracture and osteoporosis. Wolff’s Law of increased bone growth is a positive when it is utilized in a functional and mobile manner, not when vertebrae are too compressed and there is no spinal mobility or room for the discs to be healthy.
Has There been Scientific Research on Spinal Decompression?
Yes, there has! Here are some bullet points when it comes to research material.
· In a recent journal article in Orthopedic Technology Review titled Surgical Alternatives: Spinal Decompression, results showed that 86% of the 219 patients who completed the therapy reported immediate resolution of symptoms while 84% of patients remained pain free 90 days post treatment.
· The American Journal of Pain Management reported ‘good to excellent’ relief in 86% patients with Herniated discs, with back pain and sciatica symptoms being relieved. Good to excellent results were also obtained in 75% of those with facet syndrome.
· In a small study to determine the long-term effects of vertebral axial decompression, the following results were obtained: ‘Among 23 patients, 71% showed more than 50% reduction in pain immediately after treatment, and 86% showed a 50% or better pain reduction at four years. After four years, 52% of respondents reported a pain level of zero.Thus, pain relief not only improved but lasted. This pilot study shows great promise for long term relief and new pain management techniques.
Still Not Sure This Will Help You?
No problem! Dr. Claire understands it can be frustrating with long term pain, not getting results, and the importance of making an educated decision when it comes to your health. At MVMTLAB we offer a free spinal decompression consult to see if this would benefit you. It requires filling out an online intake form and a consult/exam with Dr. Claire to see if you are a candidate. And if this is not the form of treatment for you, Dr.Claire can opt to do other forms of treatment whether that’s shockwave,cupping, spinal manipulations, exercise, or refer/collaborate with one of our other fantastic practitioners in the office.
Again age, flexibility, athletic background, health…spinalde compression does not discriminate!