Your spine, more than any other musculoskeletal structure in the body, is responsible for holding you up and enabling your movements for the duration of your life. So, you can’t very well afford to lose its functionality.

Yet, even the simplest things can cause major spinal damage...An incorrect twist, too long in a hard chair, lifting a load that’s slightly too heavy. Unfortunately, a spine is not like a toe or a shoulder; you can’t immobilize it for two weeks in the same way, unless you want to give up mobility entirely. In this way, many people end up turning acute injuries into chronic injuries. That often leads to ongoing use of painkillers or even surgery. Not good.

Luckily, there is some good news: With the right treatment, you can avoid those scenarios, heal quickly from both acute and chronic back trauma, and go on with your life.

How? Let’s find out.


What Is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression?

Many people confuse this therapy with more common inversion and traction treatments. While the latter two are similar, they are not the same. Inversion involves strapping the patient to a table and then slanting it so that the patient’s torso hangs downward toward their head. This treatment does lengthen the spine, creating space between the vertebrae and allowing discs the space to retract their fluid and heal.

Traction is a machine that uses mechanical force instead of inversion, gently pulling the body from both ends to create space in the spine. It too has medical benefits, but not the same ones as spinal decompression.

Non-surgical spinal decompression – aside from its obvious boon of not requiring invasive surgery and long healing times – is beneficial because it can target specific locations on the spine.

Whereas traction and inversion generate a generalized lengthening effect, spinal decompression focuses on very specific areas. Not only does this help you heal faster, it minimizes damage as well.

First, though, let’s look at the uses and effects of spinal decompression.


What Medical Issues Is It Used For?


Spinal decompression therapy is mainly used to treat disc trouble. That includes bulging discs (in which the disc is compressed between two vertebrae and balloons out around the sides) and herniated discs (in which the disc casing actually ruptures, spilling disc fluid into the surrounding space.

By taking pressure off the spine, decompression helps discs retract and cushion the spine normally. This also means that any pressure they were putting on surrounding tissue, from muscles to nerves, is relieved. In this way, spinal decompression can heal significant pain with just a few or more visits to the clinic. And by using careful motorized traction to target just a few specific vertebrae, you can avoid affecting non-injured areas of the spine.

It also works to treat pain from sciatica and degenerative disc disease. The number of treatment will depend your particular situation.


What Are the Side Effects?

Compared to back surgery, including surgical spinal decompression, there exists almost no side effects of non-surgical spinal decompression.

The main risk of the treatment is muscle spasms. These occur because the back is not used to being stretched. For obvious reasons, the motorized stretching process affects not just vertebrae and discs, but also puts strain on muscles. If they become overstretched, they may begin to spasm on the table or afterward. Even though this rarely occurs, it’s important to tell your physician immediately if it does occur.

The other risk is that it simply may not work for you. Unfortunately, this therapy isn’t able to target every problem, and so some hopeful patients are forced to conclude after several attempts that it isn’t for them.

Surgery, on the other hand, carries with it a range of risks. These include:


Obviously, these risks are best avoided. To make a smart decision, however, you must first ask whether there are any long-term risks of which to be aware.


Can There Be Long-Lasting Damage?


And, the answer to that question, in a nutshell, is no. Muscle spasms are usually short term, and you can calm them with basic at-home care, if they even continue past the appointment. As for not working, well, that’s not a form of damage – though it is disappointing, and probably necessitates further discussions with your physician.


Why Should You Choose Spinal Decompression Over Back Surgery?


So, why should you choose spinal decompression over an invasive treatment like back surgery (or, for that matter, over ongoing use of medication without any noticeable improvement in your condition)?

For one thing, back surgery requires significant healing times, usually in the 3-4 month range. That’s a huge length of time to miss work. Even if you’re retired, it means you can’t drive, prepare your own meals or heft those cuddly grandkids ­– or even your own children, as back trouble does sadly hit young people sometimes.

Also, you can get as many treatments as you need to heal – all without subjecting yourself to the dangers and potential side effects of surgery. With extremely limited side effects compared to surgery, it’s definitely an avenue to explore before going under the knife. If you’re still wondering whether to choose spinal decompression, feel free to read more about it here.

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