I have been practicing for over 30 years and have helped relieve lower back pain for numerous patients, but only in the last few years have my percentages, especially in tougher cases, improved due to the use of Decompression Therapy. This new technology is one of the hottest new therapeutic devices for compression and disc syndromes.
Decompression Therapy is an effective treatment for herniated discs, degenerative discs, facet syndrome, sciatica (leg pain) and pre and post surgical patients. Research indicates that the disc is responsible for a significant number of lower back pain cases as well as sciatic, neck and arm pain. Compression of the disc increases the pressure inside of it, leading to weakening of the outer disc fibers and possible herniation of the disc’s nuclear material. The disc is mostly made up of water and since it does not have its own blood supply, it relies on movement of the neck and back to move the fluid that brings the disc nutrients needed to maintain health and integrity.
A compressed disc has a severe lack of (if any) movement. This lack of movement deprives the disc of nutrients creating high pressure inside the disc. As the disc dehydrates, the inner nucleus tends to migrate to the outer disc fibers. When this nucleus begins to protrude and put pressure on either a spinal nerve or the spinal cord itself, severe pain usually results. This pain can stay local or radiate into the legs, in the case of the lower back; or the arms, in the case of the neck. If the nucleus actually breaks through the outer fibers or the disc, surgery may be necessary. My office is partnered with several different types of specialists if a second opinion is necessary.
The second most common cause of back pain that decompression can help is called Facet Syndrome. This syndrome can produce foraminal encroachment or simply put, a misalignment of a spinal vertebra causing pressure on a lower back nerve as it exits a now smaller hole. How decompression works here is by separation of the facet, establishing potential for improved alignment, articulation and joint mobility and by widening the vertebral foramina allowing increased space for the spinal nerve root to exit.
In my office, there are three phases of decompression therapy. Phase one consists of 10 minutes of light therapy treatment or muscle stimulation. By pre-treating prior to beginning decompression, the patient benefits from relaxation of muscle spasms and relief of minor muscle and joint aches. The second phase is the actual decompression therapy which can range from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the condition and the individual patient. The third phase is in my opinion, as important as the decompression in that it consists of core strengthening exercises. Once pain has diminished, it is recommended that the patient begin an exercise program to strengthen supportive core tissue such as, muscles, ligaments and tendons which improve their flexibility and thus maintain the corrected posture.