Spinal Decompression in St. Louis

Gently creates more space within the spine taking pressure off disc bulges and pinched nerves.

Spinal Decompression in St. Louis

What is spinal decompression?

Spinal decompression is a therapy that 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. 

How does spinal decompression work?

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 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. 

What's the difference between decompression and traction?

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.

Which is better, spinal decompression therapy vs. traction?

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.

Spinal decompression for a disc bulge

Discs are the spacers between the spine that help 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 herniations, 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. 

Spinal decompression for sciatica

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, decompression therapy 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 is not a good treatment option for sciatica caused by piriformis syndrome since it does not address the central area of injury. 

What is Cox Flexion Distraction?

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) 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.

What is the Y Strap?

The Y strap is a neck traction device with cushioned straps that comfortably cradle 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.

Y strap adjustment

Some chiropractors also use the Y strap for spine adjustments. More traditional chiropractic adjustments use side bending and rotation to adjust the spine. Y strap adjustments apply an elongation stretch to the neck. Y strap adjustments are not better or worse than other chiropractic techniques. It has more to do with personal preference. 

Chiropractor that offers spinal decompression

We are St. Louis chiropractors who offer spinal decompression. We also utilize cox flexion-distraction and offer Y strap adjustments. During the first visit, we provide 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. However, combining several treatments collectively gives more profound results. 

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