3 Phases of Spinal Decompression Treatment
Comprehensive Therapy for Long-Term Relief
Stabilization of Structure
Support of Muscular System
Phase 1: The Treatment Begins
Spinal Decompression Therapy is performed on a specially designed table in either a face up or face down position. Your condition and comfort are used in deciding which position will be best for you. We may begin in one position but in later sessions it may be necessary to change positions. You will remain fully dressed during the treatment though we recommend wearing loose fitting clothes, and removal of your belt and objects from your pockets. You will be comfortably positioned on the table and fitted with a wrap-around harness. This harness is what allows the unloading of the spine and discs by the traction motor. Your position on the table, the harness, and angle of the gentle distraction allows for accurate and focused treatment to the affected disc. Once comfortable on the spinal decompression bed, the computer controlled traction device is programmed to deliver a gentle stretch to the spinal vertebra. This stretching force is delivered directly to the harness system. The spinal decompression system applies the gentle stretch then releases it approximately every minute throughout the session. The total treatment time is usually less than 18 minutes and often just 10 minutes initially. Most patents report simply feeling a subtle and gentle stretching at their lower back or around their hips; or in their necks in the case of cervical disc cases. Since spinal decompression therapy is a comfort-based procedure, patients usually report a sense of relief and relaxation during the session. Many patients even fall asleep. In the first days of the spinal decompression program, you will be measured for a pair of orthotics and will have a nutritional supplement regimen ready for you.
Healing the Discs
The gentle stretching and relaxing of the spine fosters a phenomenon called “imbibition”. In the simplest of terms, this is the way a normal disc gets nutrition. This pumping action promotes nutrition intake into the discs, something often lost in damaged and degenerative disk conditions. In healthy discs, imbibition occurs naturally with daily motions and body positions and accounts for the increase of disc thickness in the morning and decrease at night. A disk with poor imbibition, fewer nutrients and hydration, is more likely to become injured and painful. Stretching or tractioning the spine in a controlled, comfortable manner can help re-establish a more normal imbibition. This can re-supply the disc with nutrients and blood contact that help the disc heal from the inside out. Also the dramatic decrease of pressure in the disc (decompression) can foster the drawing in of a bulge and help take pressure off a “pinched” spinal nerve.
Reducing Swelling and Inflammation with Cold Lasers
Swelling and inflammation slow the healing process and cause a significant amount of pain; therefore we work to resolve these issues from day one of treatment. We use several treatments including ice, electrical stimulation, and most effectively, cold laser therapy (a.k.a. low-level laser light therapy, lllt). Cold lasers are used in a multitude of applications including wound care, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, but are also extremely effective for back and neck pain. They boost the body’s ability to heal by increasing circulation, reducing swelling, and speeding the generation of new and healthy tissue. Many patients come to our office specifically for the cold laser therapy, but due to its effectiveness, we include it in our spinal decompression program.
Re-Establish Structural Support with Physical Therapy
Although most patients report dramatic reduction of their pain within as few as five treatments, an injured spinal disc needs time to heal. This is why we urge you to be regular with your prescribed
physical therapy appointments. Research shows to completely heal some discs a regular program of in-office exercises, prescribed by your doctor will need to be followed. Spinal disc structures can take months to heal. Even though your pain may be gone, you must stay on the treatment plan in order to keep your spine healthy.
As you become more mobile and more able to return to your normal lifestyle, you increased activity is what your spine needs most. Now you will be imbibing the discs naturally, like people with healthy discs. Movement is life, and your spine depends on the muscle activity to support your spine, and create fluid movement to and from the discs.
Phase 2: Mobilization and Stabilization of Structure
Pain is under control: Mobilize and rehabilitate the structures supporting the disc
Most patients feel significant pain reduction in as few as five spinal decompression therapy visits. That however does not mean the healing process is complete, or that your pain won’t return. During Phase 2 of your spinal decompression therapy treatments, our office will prescribe a series of chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitative measures in order to more fully heal your discs, and keep the pain from returning. Most low back pain sufferers have two compounding problems that have contributed to their injury and limited their natural healing abilities.
- Decreased Spine Flexibility & Mobility
- Poor Muscle Control
From back spasms to injuries to other trauma that go untreated, the vertebra that make up the spine become immobile. Remember that a lack of motion is what restricts imbibition and promotes disc degeneration. Chiropractic adjustments are intended to introduce mobility back into the spine. Once mobility is introduced back into the spine, imbibition can take place naturally, as you move normally during your daily life. However, even though mobility has been introduced into the spine, the supporting structures are still unstable, which where rehabilitative stretches and exercises are very important.
All the body systems must work in concert for optimum health so nutritional and lifestyle advice may be given as well as an at-home exercise program. We can’t over emphasize the importance of the in-office exercises. What you do in the office and at home is integral to the overall success we have. Studies show consistent stabilization and endurance exercises control back pain and reduce injury. At what point you start the exercise program is a function of your pain and overall progress based on our findings.
Phase 3: Support of Muscular System
During phase 3, we will structure an in-office and home-based exercise program that will help to bring your spine back to full health. This exercise program may include in-office resistance training, stabilization exercises and resistance training and other “core” exercises.
Regular and consistent exercise is one of the keys to long-term relief. We have found though experience the simple exercises we prescribe are most effective. Introduction to the low tech movement exercises you can do to speed the healing process are one of the most important parts of the spinal decompression program.