Patient Education

Spinal Decompression

What is Spinal Decompression?

Spinal Decompression is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment for certain types of chronic back pain.  Spinal decompression is a relatively new medical treatment.  Spinal decompression works by slowly and gently stretching the spine, taking pressure off compressed discs and vertebrae.  When this technique is applied, negative pressure is created within the disc allowing for the disc material that has moved away from the central part of the disc, and pinching a nerve, to be drawn back inside the disc, relieving the pressure on the nerve.  This can result in reduced neck or back pain, reduced arm or leg pain, and promotes healing of the disc.

How Does Spinal Decompression Work?

Spinal decompression works by slowly and gently stretching the spine, taking pressure off compressed discs and vertebrae.  When this technique is applied, negative pressure is created within the disc allowing for the disc material that has moved away from the central part of the disc, and crowding a nerve, to be “sucked back in” and drawn back inside the disc, which takes the pressure off the nerve.  This results in reduced neck and back pain, reduced arm and leg pain, as well as promotes true healing of the disc.

What To Expect?

During each 30 minute treatment session the patient relaxes comfortably on a heavily-padded bed.  After being secured into position by and upper and lower body harness, the patient can completely relax by listening to music, or simply taking a nap.  Typically, each 30 minute session is divided into 18 phases, where spinal decompressive forces alternate between a maximum and minimum therapeutic level.  The cycling of forces in this manner appears to create a pumping action that simulates the natural processes responsible for nourishing the intervertebral disc.

Conditions Treated

Herniated Disc

Herniated disc (also referred to as protruding or extruded disc) is a condition where a portion of the gel-like center of the disc has migrated through the layers of the annulus fibrosus.  This can cause mechanical pressure on neighbouring structures and trigger chemical reactions resulting in pain and inflammation.  These changes will often irritate the nerves, producing numbness or tingling in the legs or feet.  Left untreated, this condition may result in life-changing pain and physical disability.

Facet Syndrome

Facets are the posterior joints of the spine that aid in keeping the vertebrae aligned.  Facet syndrome can result from injury or degeneration of the disc and is characterized by pain, stiffness, and inflammation.  The pain generally increases with motion and is relieved by rest.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a state of dehydration and deterioration marked by the gradual erosion of the discs ability to distribute and resist mechanical loads.  As discs deteriorate, they become more prone to injury from physical stress.  Degenerative disc disease may also play a contributing role in conditions such as disc bulges, disc herniations, and stenosis.

Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition often associated with a herniated or ruptured disc.  When the injured disc compresses one of the spinal nerves leading to the sciatic nerve, it can produce a shock-like pain that travels though the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee.  Tingling and numbness are common in this condition.  Sciatica can occur suddenly, or develop gradually.  The pain and symptoms of sciatica can be intensified by coughing, sneezing, or sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time