Spinal decompression therapy is the process of relieving pressure on the spinal area to relieve tension on one or more nerves. It is often employed as a means of managing conditions that involve pinching of the nerves in the spinal column. When the pressure on the spine is relieved, nerve compression is also released improving symptoms such as back pain, numbness and tingling sensations, and you can ask your local Land O Lakes chiropractor if you are a good candidate.

Spinal decompression therapy may involve two forms: non-surgical and surgical managements. Non-surgical managements are often employed for minor conditions while surgical measures are used for more advanced spinal conditions that cannot be treated with non-surgical measures. The following discusses the non-surgical as well as surgical spinal decompression techniques:

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy

Non-surgical spinal decompression operates on the premise that the application of traction in the spine will help relieve nerve impingement. In this technique, the spine is gently stretched to alter the position and force in the vertebral column taking pressure off the spinal discs. The negative pressure created in traction will eventually correct herniated discs and subsequently relieve pressure on the underlying nerves.

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression is usually employed for the following conditions:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Sciatica or pain, tingling and weakness down the legs
  • Degenerative disc conditions
  • Disc herniation
  • Posterior Facet syndrome or worn spinal joints
  • Radiculopathy or diseased spinal nerve roots

During the therapy, expect that you are fully clothed. A harness is placed around your trunk and your pelvis. You may be positioned face up or face down depending on the location of your condition. The procedure may last from 30 to 45 minutes. Before or after the non-surgical spinal decompression, other measures may be used to relieve pain such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasound and electrical stimulation for more effective results.

Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy 

As opposed to the non-surgical technique, surgical measures are used as a last resort for spinal conditions. Patients who are unresponsive to conventional approaches may be subjected to this measure. Conditions that require surgical spinal decompression may include:

  • Ruptured discs
  • Bony outgrowths in the spinal cavity
  • Other spinal conditions

Surgical spinal decompression may employ one or more back surgeries depending on the need. The following are the most common surgical techniques for decompressing the spine:

  • Diskectomy. This involves the surgical removal of the disc or portion of the disc that compresses a nerve.
  • Foraminotomy or foraminectomy. The foramen in the spine, which is the opening where nerve roots pass, may be a cause for nerve compression. In this line, an opening may be created or bones and other tissues around the foramen are removed to release pressure.
  • Laminectomy. Laminectomy involves the removal of a bony structure in the spinal canal to provide a wider pathway for nerves to pass through.
  • Corpectomy. Corpectomy is the actual removal of a diseased or ruptured disc in the spine.
  • Osteophyte removal. In cases of bony outgrowths, they are surgical removed to relieve pressure in the spinal cavity.

Surgical spinal decompression techniques are generally safe; however, they may pose risks such as infection, blood clots, bleeding, or permanent nerve damage.

If you have been feeling chronic back pains and other spinal conditions, consult a health care practitioner or a chiropractor to determine if spinal decompression therapy is right for you.