Spinal decompression therapy has been a revolutionary treatment offered by Las Vegas chiropractors. The treatment may help patients avoid surgery, achieve Pain Relief and get back to doing the things in life that have been put on hold.
Anatomy of spinal disc disease
Degenerative change in the discs of the spine is a normal consequence of aging. The discs become dehydrated which results in narrowing of the discs. The outer fibrocartilaginous ring of the disc (annulus fibrosus) may crack or rupture thus allowing the inner nuclear material to leak into the spinal canal (a condition known as a herniated or prolapsed disc).
The herniated disc may compress a spinal nerve causing a condition commonly known as sciatica (where pain from the lower back radiates down into the leg).
Conservative treatment of symptomatic disc disease consists of analgesic medication (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or opioids), bed rest and physical therapy. The recovery period may be prolonged but eventually, the extruded disc material may be reabsorbed by the body. Epidural corticosteroid injections may be beneficial in alleviating pain by suppressing the inflammation around the irritated nerve root.
Spinal decompression therapy in Las Vegas may further aid in the conservative management of spinal disc disease. The goal of spinal decompression is to distract the vertebrae thereby creating a negative pressure within the disc.
This negative intradiscal pressure is reported to produce a suctioning or vacuum-like effect on the disc causing retraction of a bulging disc and/or a reduction in the size of a herniated disc. The herniated disc is thus pulled away from the irritated nerve root relieving the pain of sciatica.
Mechanical traction versus spinal decompression therapy
Traditional lumbar traction (which has been in use for decades) produces a constant, continuous force on the pelvis in only one direction. According to proponents of spinal compression therapy, this continuous force is met with tightening and spasm of the paraspinal muscles which actually increases the intradiscal pressure.
Modern spinal decompression tables are equipped with a microchip-controlled computerized feedback system that senses the occurrence of back spasm or resistance to the applied decompressive force and decreases the force of distraction accordingly. Spinal decompression units can also adjust the angle at which the distraction forces are applied.
Other reported benefits of spinal decompression therapy
The negative pressure gradient created by spinal decompression therapy is also reported to improve the delivery of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the disc thus providing an optimal healing environment.
Spinal decompression treatment protocol
Spinal decompression works through a series of 15 one minute alternating decompression and relaxation cycles with a total treatment time of 30 minutes. For the low back, the patient lies on his/her back or stomach on the decompression table, with a set of padded straps snug around the waist and another set around the lower chest.
For the neck, the patient lies on his/her back with a pair of soft rubber pads behind the neck. The treatment is quite comfortable and is generally, well-tolerated. A series of 16 to 20 sessions is usually the minimum number needed but treatment may last several months and require 30 or more sessions.
Spinal decompression therapy and the FDA
Spinal decompression therapy has received U.S. Food and Drug clearance. Spinal decompression devices have been cleared for traction (stretching) which may relieve back pain but scientific evidence specifically in regard to lowering intradiscal pressure is lacking.
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