Non-surgical spinal decompression gently creates more space within the spine taking pressure off disc bulges (herniated disc) and pinched nerves providing pain relief.
Spinal decompression therapy slowly elongates the spine, taking pressure off disc bulges and pinched nerves. The neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine) are the most common areas treated with decompression.
Decompression, sometimes called traction, is a type of stretch applied to the spine. However, the stretch lengthens the spine from each end rather than bending forward, backward, side to side, or twisting. When the spine is gently decompressed, it relieves spinal nerve pressure by creating more space between the bones. Intermittent traction (slowly going in and out of the stretch) provides additional benefits of improving blood flow and facilitating a healing response.
Some advocates of spinal decompression claim that it can return bulging discs to their proper position. They describe a suctioning effect that pulls the disc's fluid back towards the center. The repositioning of disc material has not been confirmed through research; however, decompression and traction are still considered highly effective therapies for pain relief and faster healing.
Spinal decompression and traction share the goal of opening the space surrounding nerves to relieve nerve pain and promote a healing response. They are also similar in that they have the same direction of stretch.
Spinal decompression and traction are frequently used interchangeably due to their similarities. However, a key difference is that traction typically implies the therapist is applying the stretch manually or with a traction device. Decompression therapy is more appropriately used when the force is measured and provided through computer automation.
Another way to think about it is that traction is more hands-on, and decompression involves a computer-controlled system.
Both therapies are effective solutions for low back pain and neck pain. The most critical consideration is for the stretch to be applied, then backed off intermittently. Intermittent traction involves gradually taking pressure off the spine and reducing the force in cycles. The easing in and out of decompression helps nourish the injured areas.
Proponents of decompression argue its superiority because computer systems intermittently decompress the spine. However, traction therapy can be applied intermittently, with excellent success.
A spinal disc is a spacer between the spine that helps with movement and absorbing shock. Without discs, our spines would be a long block of bone incapable of movement. The inside portion of the disc is a fluid similar to the consistency of honey. The outside layers are collagen, similar to cartilage and ligaments.
Disc bulges, sometimes called disc herniation, are when the inside fluid leaks through the outside wall. Once this happens, there is an inflammatory response that causes pain. The nerve next to the disc also becomes inflamed and swollen. Spinal decompression is used to alleviate pressure from the swollen nerve. The gentle back-and-forth elongation of the spine additionally acts as a pump, flushing inflammation and nourishing the surrounding area.
Sciatica is the term used for pain in the back of the butt and leg along the sciatic nerve. The most common cause of sciatica is a disc bulge or disc herniation in the lumbar spine. When a disc herniation irritates the nerves in the low back, it radiates pain along the sciatic nerve pathway.
When sciatica is caused by a pinched nerve in the low back, a spinal decompression session can help with pain and healing. However, there are other causes of sciatica, such as piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is when the piriformis muscle in the butt pinches or irritates the sciatic nerve. Spinal decompression treatment is not a good option for sciatica caused by piriformis syndrome since it does not address the central area of injury.
Cox flexion distraction is another form of traction used to reduce pressure on discs and nourish the spine, especially in the low back (lumbar spine). Flexion-distraction is unique because it can traction (elongate) while also flexing and side bending the spine. Additionally, myofascial release (A type of massage therapy) is commonly used during cox flexion distraction facilitating greater muscle relaxation.
Some conditions, such as spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease, get more significant benefits with the multiple stretch options and soft tissue release with the flexion-distraction technique.
The Y-axis traction strap is a neck traction device with a cushioned chin strap that comfortably cradles the head. On the opposite end, the Y strap has a handle in which a chiropractor can apply a lengthening stretch. Intermittent traction with the Y strap can treat disc bulges, pinched nerves, neck arthritis, and degenerative disc disease.
Some chiropractors also use the Y strap technique for spine adjustments. More traditional chiropractic adjustments use side bending and rotation to adjust the spine. Y-axis manipulation applies an elongation stretch to the neck using the y-axis traction strap. Y strap adjustments are not better or worse than other chiropractic techniques. It has more to do with patient preference.
We are St. Louis Chiropractors who offer spinal decompression treatment. We also utilize cox flexion-distraction and offer Y strap adjustment. During the first visit, patients receive an evaluation to assess the condition and discuss the best treatment options.
In addition to decompression, our team offers myofascial release, stretching, neurodynamics, chiropractic adjustments, and rehabilitation. Each therapy has a unique value for treating chronic pain. However, combining several treatments collectively gives more profound results to your chiropractic care.
Whether you're a new patient looking for answers and solutions to a complicated condition, or just need a chiropractic adjustment, our office can help. Our chiropractors can help no matter if you are recovering from an injury or are experiencing chronic back pain or neck pain, so call O'Guin Wellness today!
We specialize in leading, non-invasive therapies that restore alignment, enhance movement, and promote healing.
Releases joint restrictions allowing for improved movements of the spine with less pain.
Like a massage, but more specific to help with muscle pain/tension and fascia restrictions.
Develop resiliency by using the best exercises to get stronger and improve balance & agility.
Facilitates relaxation throughout the body, can reduce pain, and promote faster healing.
An alternative method to massage that uses suction as a way to heal and relax muscle pain.