Friday, March 11, 2011

Does Spinal Decompression Hurt?

Spinal decompression is safe and likely effective non-surgical treatment cleared by the FDA for the relief of lower back and leg pain and neck and arm pain. An overwhelming majority of spinal decompression patients experience no pain. Many times my patients consider their treatment time as extra time to multitask, power nap, listen to music, or read. Disc decompression therapy is safe and gentle intermittent traction of the neck or lower back with primary intent to restore and enliven the disc to its proper alignment and function. It does not take a lot of pressure to enliven the disc. Disc decompression is a gentle and safe treatment, once the doctor has examined you and ruled out conditions that are contraindicated.

Make sure your doctor does a through history and examination to rule out conditions that are contraindicated for spinal decompression such as aneurysm, acute fracture, gross osteoporosis, previous surgery with metal implants, tumors, and other conditions that make the spine unstable. Of course women who are pregnant should not be treated with decompression. A thorough examination is essential for the doctor to determine if and how spinal decompression should be performed. For the small percentage of patients who experience pain it is caused by: 1) traction reaction 2) improper position on the spinal decompression table, 3) too much or little pressure, or 4) the treatment is too long. Traction reaction occurs when the patient has reactive muscle spasms following treatment and is typically short in duration.

In my clinic, the patient is given a "safety switch" to help the patient have immediate and ultimate control to end the treatment anytime they are uncomfortable. Should there be any discomfort or pain the patient has full control to turn the traction unit off and end the treatment.

So here is your check list to make sure spinal decompression is painless:
1. Have a thorough examination and history.
2. Report pain to the doctor or staff any time you experience pain.
3. Make sure each time you have the safety switch in your hand during the entire treatment.

Then relax and enjoy the extremely safe and likely effective results of spinal decompression.

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