Spinal Decompression

Spinal decompression is a way to treat patients with chronic to severe spinal pain. The treatment can be done on those who have herniated or bulging discs in the neck, mid, and low-back region. The physical pain in the arm or leg could be due to the degeneration or damage of spinal discs. Although there is no guarantee for a total recovery, many have had great results with this new procedure. The specific conditions that spinal decompression can help include: spinal stenosis, sciatica, herniated or bulging discs, spondylosis, or even a failed attempt at spinal surgery.
Surgical spinal decompression can be performed in two common procedures. These procedures are known as microdiscectomy, or microdecompression, and laminectomy, or open decompression. During spinal decompression therapy, a negative pressure is created within the disc. Because of that negative pressure, hernitated disc material that has protruded or herniated can be pulled back within the normal confines of the herniated disc, and permit healing to occur.
  • Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a portion of a herniated nucleus pulpolsus is removed by way of a surgical instrument or laser while using an operating microscope or loupe for magnification.
  • Laminectomy is an invasive surgical procedure in which a small portion of the arch of the vertebrae (bone) is removed from the spine to alleviate the pressure on the pinched nerve. This is an elective procedure for those that have not found relief of their back pain through more conservative treatment options.
A patient lies on the spinal decompression table and relaxes as the device applies decompression forces to injured areas.
Decompression is the therapeutic elongation of the spine in a slow, gentle manner in order to relieve pressure on compressed vertebrae and discs. Decompression is achieved by using a specific combination of spinal positioning and varying the degree and intensity of the force. The key to producing this decompression is the gentle pull that is created by a logarithmic curve. When distracting forces are generated on a logarithmic curve the typical proprioceptive response is avoided. Avoiding this response allows decompression to occur at the targeted area.

Depending on your spinal condition, the spinal specialist will perform a specific program that he/she believes will help you to recovery. The best results, through clinical research, has shown that twenty sessions over a six week period is ideal. Aside from the decompression table, ice/heat/muscle stimulation and chiropractic adjustments can help in the healing process by reducing inflammation. The cost for twenty sessions ranges from $1,000-5,000 or more. It may seem like a lot, but think of how much you could save yourself if you did not have to get spinal surgery (tens of thousands of dollars.) According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surgery was shown to be no more effective than non-invasive treatments like spinal decompression.


Spinal Decompression Therapy is a non-surgical, non-chiropractic therapy to relieve back pain and other problems associated with spinal disc injuries. Compressed discs lead to two major problems: a bulge or herniation pressing on a nerve; and brittleness of the disc. The problem is often perpetuated because the compressed disc restricts the flow of nutrients to itself which is needed to heal. Spinal Decompression Treatment is non-invasive and provides gentle decompression of the disc through the use of a decompression table. You are strapped to the table so that as it moves it applies a distraction force to the targeted area of the spine (the compressed disc). A computer controls the distraction force which is applied in between periods of relaxation. This gently pulls the spine apart elongating it and creating a small vacuum between the vertebrae which pulls the disc back into shape.


Patients remain on the system for 30-45 minutes, daily for the first 2 weeks, three times a week for the following 2 weeks, and followed up by two times a week for the last 2 weeks.


If you are pregnant, have acute osteoporosis, suffer from metastatic, pelvic or abdominal cancers, or have metal rods or appliances in your spine, spinal decompression treatment is most likely not for you.

Side effects are generally uncommon with spinal decompression treatments. Some patients may feel temporary, mild muscle spasms.

Interesting Facts
  • It is estimated that back pain afflicts over 31 million Americans and is the number one
cause of activity limitation in young adults.

  • Within a given year, up to 50% of U.S. adults suffer from back pain.

  • Lower back pain is he second most frequent reason for a visit to the physician's office.

  • 60% of asymptomatic middle aged people would have findings of disc bulge or worse on MRI.

  • Although there is no procedure that is 100% successful, non-surgical spinal decompression therapy has a high success rate with full compliance on the part of the patient.

For those who have herniated or bulging discs in the upper, mid, and lower back region.

Web Resources:
toyourhealth.com, February 2007.

Related Terminology:

Spinal stenosis- Narrowing of the spine at the center of the spine, nerve branches, or spaces between the vertebrae.
Sciatica- Pain in the lower back, butt, hips, and/or leg due to a herniated disc pushing onto the nerve roots.
Serrated or bulging discs- Is the displacement of center matter within the disc through a cut or tear in the outer layer of the disc.
Spondylosis- Is similar to arthritis in the spine, where the spinal discs weaken and degenerate most often with older age.
Pinched nerves- a condition in which one or more nerves is affected and does not work properly.
Herniated discs- an abnormal protrusion of a spinal disk between vertebrae, most often in the lumbar region of the spine, causing pain due to pressure on spinal nerves.

Dr. James D. Edwards; toyourhealth.com, February 2007.


Decompression table
Decompression table