Man with back pain

If you have ever had a herniated disk, you know the pain is excruciating. The chronic pain that results from such an acute condition leaves no doubt there that you need medical intervention. And in the past surgery was generally the only option doctors had available to them that offered any remedy.

In recent years, however, therapies like spinal decompression have lessened and in some cases eliminated the need for any kind of invasive procedure at all.


What is a Herniated Disc?

Often called a bulging disk, this is a very common spinal injury that affects many adults in the United States. A person can have a herniated disk without realizing it until a nerve becomes pinched or otherwise compromised resulting in what can often be excruciating pain, plus a loss of range of motion and many other adverse effects.

The discs in your spine serve as shock absorbers and distributors and ensure flexibility. They are essential for a person’s spine to function. Your disks are made up of a tough outer layer (annulus fibrosus) and a soft, gelatin-like center (nucleus pulposus).

Sometimes cracks occur in that outer layer and inner material of a disk begin to push out. There are numerous reasons this can occur including being overweight, poor posture, and physical injury, or being overweight.


What are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

Some of the most common symptoms include:

Depending on which disc is herniated, pain usually begins in the back or neck. As more gel comes out of the disc, it usually beings to put pressure on the nerve. When that occurs, pain begins to radiate down the leg or arm often accompanied by a tingling sensation or numbness.

When not treated, the pain can become severe enough to prevent getting out of bed or performing normally routine tasks.

Even something as simple as sneezing or coughing may result in shooting pains.


What is Spinal Decompression?

These treatments accomplished the same results spinal traction but are more effective and less time consuming. In this procedure, your spine is gently stretched decreasing the pressure of the disc. The process of stretching and relaxing the spine relieves pressure and promotes increased circulation. Better circulation means an increase in blood flow that carries necessary oxygen, nutrients, and water to travel a damaged disc.

When your disk is slowly stretched back into shape, a vacuum pulls oxygen, hydration, and nutrients into the disc. This process promotes healing from the inside. For long-term pain relief to occur, multiple treatments are often required.

Conservative, non-surgical spinal decompression has been shown to have positive results in alleviating the symptoms of a herniated disc in 90% of those suffering from the condition.


How Many Treatments are Required?

Although most people realize relief after their first treatment, a series of decompression treatments are generally recommended to ensure that lasting, internal healing takes place.

One of the advantages of spinal decompression therapy is each treatment session generally takes less than 30 minutes. Sometimes one treatment is all that is required but you may need multiple treatments over a four to eight-week period if your injury is severe.


Does it Always Replace Surgery?

Many patients who seriously considered back surgery to repair an injured disk, have been able to avoid surgery after completing a full course of spinal decompression. The treatment is approved by the FDA and often provides a viable alternative to surgery and long-term reliance on painkillers.

Each case of back pain is unique and your specialist can help you determine which good course of treatment is best for you - surgery vs spinal decompression.

There are some instances where surgery is the preferred course of treatment.

If you have had a prior surgery with metal plates and screws in the area to be treated, cancer in the area of treatment or severe osteoporosis, spinal decompression is not for you.

As with any physical condition, being proactive is always the best course of action. If you have recurring symptoms the sooner you see a specialist the better.

There is no reason to think surgery is the only option you have when it comes to severe back pain. Physicians are seeing more and more of their patients avoid surgery and resume their normal lifestyle quickly and with far less pain than ever before.


As with any form of medical treatment, you should consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment plan. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be deemed accurate for the purposes of diagnosing your particular medical condition

Dr. Andy Keith

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