When nerves are pinched between the discs of the spine, it causes pain in the muscles of the body, and affects the functioning of the limbs. Chronic back pain, spondylolisthesis, disc bulge, sciatica, spinal stenosis and disc herniation are other conditions that can be treated using spinal decompression therapy. Let’s find out whether this therapy actually works.
Spinal decompression therapy is a relatively new procedure for treating chronic back and neck pain, and the other conditions mentioned above. This procedure can be of two main types – invasive and noninvasive. There is spinal decompression surgery which is the invasive procedure, and spinal decompression therapy which is the noninvasive procedure. The surgery is performed when all other treatments fail to relieve the back pain in patients, and involves the removing of a part of the bone of the disc which is pinching the nerves.
It is an invasive procedure as mentioned earlier, and can be expensive, going up to $15,000 or $20,000, besides also being painful. However, spinal decompression therapy which is nonsurgical, is a painless procedure to treat chronic back pain. Besides, it is noninvasive, the sessions are short, and it does not even require you to get undressed. Many people are now opting for this therapy and it is gaining popularity gradually. Given below is a brief note on the working of this therapy.
Spinal Decompression Therapy
This therapy works on the basic concept of stretching the spine to increase the gaps between the discs of the spine. This relieves the pressure on the nerves passing through these gaps, thus preventing them from being pinched. It also corrects the spinal posture.
In this therapy, the pressure between the nerves is relieved by applying distractive forces to the spine, in all directions. This helps in loosening the discs of the spine which have started to compress over the years. These distractive forces create a suction or vacuum at the center of the discs. This reduces the size of the nucleus pulposus, which is the gelatinous substance inside the discs, which in turn reduces the swelling in the bulged discs. It also helps in muscle alignment, and in achieving the right spinal curvature. All these factors go a long way in reducing back pain.
The treatment works in 30-minute or one-hour sessions, and involves alternate minute long decompression and relaxation periods. The machine to which the patient is strapped is sensitive to the resistance offered by the muscles of the spine. As soon as it detects that the muscles are resisting being stretched, it releases the decompression to allow a period of relaxation for the patient. This takes place alternately, and over a period of 20 sessions the space between the discs is increased slightly, leading to decreased inter disc pressure, thus relieving the pain. It can be undertaken at the hospital as well as at home. There are various exercises for reaping the benefits of spinal decompression therapy at home.
Does It Really Work?
So, does spinal decompression therapy work? According to reviews, it does. Compared to other treatment options available, reviews show that this therapy is a good and effective option. Many patients who have undergone this therapy have sworn by its efficacy, and reported that they have experienced tremendous improvement afterward, and that they haven’t shown the symptoms again for over a year. The success rate of this treatment is around 70% to 75%, which is better than that of other treatments.
But there is a slight debate on the effectiveness of the treatment. The reason being, since this therapy is relatively new, there are not many documented studies or surveys to concretely prove the effectiveness of this therapy. What has been documented so far is too less to draw any reliable conclusions from, say researchers, while almost 8 out of 10 people opting for the treatment will say it works. What has happened is that the observations made so far have mostly been based on studies carried out by clinics which have chosen the best candidates suitable for these treatments, and put them on strict routines over the course of the treatment, to get optimum results. However, that is on paper.
In the actual scenario, not everyone undergoing the treatment is able to stick to the strict rules, like not undertaking really strenuous physical activity, following the exercise regimen advised by their doctors, the diet, and other things, since their lifestyle can get in the way sometimes. When out of all the things that the patient is supposed to follow, if a single aspect is forgotten, then the effectiveness of the treatment reduces. Clinical records show that the success rate of the treatment is around 90% to 95% on paper. The actual statistics indicate that it is 70% to 75% effective, which is also, in fact, a really good figure.
There are certain limitations on who can be deemed eligible for spinal decompression therapy, since it is not suitable for everyone. People with pelvic cancer, pregnant women, those suffering from temporary paralysis, those who have fractures around their pelvic regions, paraplegics, etc., are some candidates who are not eligible for therapy. In their case, the results of the treatment, if carried out, are not optimum. Besides, there can be minor difficulties in carrying out the treatment. And though cases of patients being totally unresponsive to the treatment are rare, it is possible, so it is better to make sure that you are an eligible candidate for this therapy.
Overall, there are no risks associated with this therapy and it has proven to be more effective than the existing forms of treatment. But how much does it cost? This therapy costs anything between $10,000 to $20,000. Although it is pretty expensive, it is a safe bet to put your money on it, and be cured of the debilitating chronic pain in your back and neck and live a pain free life. This is definitely what you should opt for if all other treatments have failed to provide relief and you are considering surgery. It is not a magic cure, but it may turn out be exactly what you need.