Non-surgical axial spinal decompression (referred to as simply ‘non-surgical spinal decompression’ in this article) is a term used to describe a relatively new treatment which involves using a comfortable computer controlled table, to follow the programming indicated by a physician, for the purpose of providing distraction, unloading, traction, or ‘decompression’ to a portion of the neck or back.
Non-surgical spinal decompression and surgical spinal decompression are two very different treatments, the latter involving surgical incisions and the surgical removal of spinal tissue. Non-surgical spinal decompression has become a first line non-surgical treatment for recalcitrant back and neck pain caused by bulging, herniated and degenerated discs.
With non-surgical spinal decompression patients may experience remarkable recoveries, often after having failed traditional approaches such as chiropractic, physical therapy and spinal injections. The application of modern non-surgical spinal decompression is more gentle and comfortable than most people ever imagine–even to the extent that some patients to nap while on the table.
In situations where physical therapy, chiropractic, injections and other approaches are either not effective or inappropriate, non-surgical spinal decompression is an option worth considering. However, non-surgical spinal decompression is not a cure-all and not everyone is an ideal candidate for this treatment. That determination should be made by a physician familiar with the pros and cons of this treatment.
Potential questions to ask a non-surgical spinal decompression specialist would include: 1. What is my specific diagnosis? 2. How severe is my condition? 3. Are there any secondary diagnoses which could affect my treatment results? 4. What are my chances of success? 5. What degree of success is likely, for example 50%? 80%? 6. After treatment, what would the future likely hold for me? 7. How many patients with similar conditions have you treated with this method?
Ideally you would have multiple consultations with a physician who has successfully treated many people with non-surgical spinal decompression–the more experience the more valuable that opinion will be. The key is to not be afraid to ask the difficult questions and to realize that as the health care consumer, you deserve straight understandable answers.
How Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Works
Non-surgical spinal decompression utilizes sophisticated computer module controlled tables to gently pull your back or neck vertebrae apart with the aim of ‘decompressing’ or reducing the compression at specific spinal discs and joints. These tables have been cleared by the FDA for the purpose of ‘positioning and unloading’ spinal structures. Research suggests that during non-surgical spinal decompression treatment that internal disc pressure may drop to very low levels.
With several sessions of non-surgical spinal decompression it is theorized that the normal ‘pumping’ mechanism of the disc improves, thereby improving the movement of oxygen, water and nutrients into the interior of spinal discs. This diffusion of oxygen, water, and nutrients into the interior of the disc, and wastes out, is important because living disc tissue cells depend upon oxygen, water, and nutrients to repair and survive. Along with allowing for an improvement in the natural disc pumping mechanism, non-surgical spinal decompression also mobilizes spinal joints and releases tight muscles and soft tissues in ways which simple stretching and exercise cannot.
Although many patients experience success with non-surgical spinal decompression, even after failing multiple sessions of other treatments, again, this treatment is not a cure-all. However, non-surgical spinal decompression may help to restore normal spinal joint function and health in a way which no other treatment modality can.
Many spinal treatments involve injecting drugs or deadening nerves in a way which does nothing to restore or improve the health of the spinal joints themselves. Treatments such as injections and surgical procedures, although at times necessary, are not designed to improve the health of spinal disc tissue.
With successful non-surgical spinal decompression treatment, an active lifestyle ideally resumes and spinal stabilization continues to occur over time.
When asked about their experience with non-surgical spinal decompression, many patients will recall experiencing a significant degree of success, but often less than 100%. A patient may state that they have noticed 80% reduction in both the severity and frequency of their symptom, for example. Patients also frequently report that this improvement is long-lasting and that now they are able to continue to do pretty good, perhaps continuing to follow the same simple spinal stretches which had failed to help initially.
Many patients think of non-surgical spinal decompression as a significant ‘boost’ in their effort to improve their condition.