Spinal decompression articles and studies


An article on non-surgical spinal decompression published by the American Journal of Pain Management (AJPM), suggested that  both male and female patients respond well to non-surgical spinal decompression, with the average age being in the seventies.

In this review the average pain level prior to treatment was 6.88 (on a 0-10 scale) and the average pain level at the last spinal decompression treatment was 2.42.  More importantly, the average pain level at one-year after the treatment session was 1.65.  This reflects a 76% average pain reduction at one-year follow-up.

With non-surgical spinal decompression, it is thought that pain from injured discs  is alleviated by “distracting” and “repositioning” the vertebra.  Average distraction is estimated to be between 5 and 7 millimeters.  Treatment length is 25 to 30 minutes.

Because non-surgical spinal decompression uses computerized equipment, the approach is controllable and repeatable.

Relief of facet syndrome is noted to be due to facet mobilization.

Relief of disc compression is described as targeting the offending disc level for the specific purpose of relieving the pressure inside the disc.  It is thought that non-surgical spinal decompression may reduce internal disc pressure from a baseline positive 25 millimeters of mercury to a negative 150 millimeters of mercury.

The intention of a non-surgical spinal decompression protocol is to promote  retraction of potentially herniated disc nucleus.  Negative pressure in the disc is described as causing oxygen, water, and nutrients to diffuse (go into) the intervertebral disc thus encouraging disc hydration and healing.

Candidates which may be excluded from non-surgical spinal decompression include those with severe osteoporosis, fractures of vertebrae, grade 2 or higher vertebral slippage (spondylolisthesis), post-surgical patients with hardware or who are unstable, patients who have received a spinal fusion within 6 months, and those with unstable spinal conditions.

Treatment duration is described as Twenty (20) treatment sessions over a 4-6 week treatment duration range.

Pain scale instructions were to rate pain from 0 to 10 with 0 being no pain and 10 being the most unpleasant pain imaginable.

Thirty five (35) patients began the study and two (2) cold not complete the treatment.

Spinal levels treated were L1 through S1.

Prior treatment involved acupuncture, spinal braces, spine surgery, chiropractic care, injections, medication, PT, and massage therapy.

As noted above, pain diminished on the pain scale an average of 4.46 points from the first to the last non-surgical spinal decompression treatment.  Follow-up one year after the last treatment reflected an average pain scale improvement of 5.23, an additional 0.77 points of improvement.

Reference:  American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “Low Back Pain”, January 2005,  Shealy CN, Borgmeyer V. Decompression, reduction, and stabilization of the lumbar spine: a cost-effective treatment for lumbosacral pain. AJPM 1997; 7(2):63-65, North American Medical Staff, The IDD Therapy® Protocols for computer directed physical modalities, North American Medical Corporation, 2003, Bolton JE, Wilkinson RC, Responsiveness of pain scales: a comparison of three pain intensity measures in chiropractic patients, Journal of Manipulative & Physiological, and Therapeutics 1998; Jan 21(1):1-7


American Journal of Pain Management (AJPM) Vol. 15 No. 3 July 2005

New Concepts in Back Pain, Management Decompression, Reduction & Stabilization

Decompression, Reduction and Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine, A Cost-Effective Treatment for Lumbosacral Pain