Also known as traction therapy, spinal decompression is utilized to release pressure on your spine, joints, discs, nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. The role of decompression therapy cannot be understated in the chiropractic profession.
Due to the inescapable forces of gravity, we live our lives in a near constant state of compression, to one degree of another. Standing, sitting, walking, carrying children, lifting at work or the gym, etc., all have a compressive effect on our tissues, and in particular on our spine.
Decompression therapy has many additional advantages, including:
- Improved muscle and sensory function
- Retraction of nucleus (disc herniation): When disc herniation (see picture below) is shown to be the cause of back pain (and usually leg pain), spinal decompression is used to provide a negative pressure within the intra-discal space, causing a slow retraction of the nucleus pulposis back to the proper position. For patients that do not tolerate spinal decompression for this condition, we can also utilize other options such as flexion/distraction, Mackenzie protocol, and sustained extension.
- Compaction injuries, which can occur in many different ways, will also cause surrounding muscles to contract, on a somewhat permanent basis. And very often the only way to achieve a more optimal resting muscle tone is to apply a decompressive/distractive force to the region, as it releases pressure on joint mechanoreceptors and free nerve endings that cause spasm in several muscles in the region of the injured joint.
- Allows for more optimal blood flow to muscles: Muscles contract by sliding myofilaments past one another, so passively lengthening them will allow for an increase in blood flow to those muscles, which leads to improved healing times.
- Improved lymphatic drainage: the lymphatic system drains away toxins from the site of injury, and passive movement of the surrounding tissues aids in this process, which again improves healing times.
What to Expect During Your Spinal Decompression Treatment
Decompression therapy is a very gradual, sustained tractioning of the tissues that is ramped up gradually in cycles of increasing pressure. You will feel the traction pressure as more time passes, but it will never hurt. In the case that it may cause pain, there is a hand-help switch that stops treatment immediately. The unit ramps down the pressure approaching the end of treatment, and once you are released from the table by your chiropractor, you should get up slowly to allow your body time to adapt.
Total treatment time is no more than 30 minutes. Patients will typically walk the hallways and perform light movements to immediately following decompression treatments in an effort to restore normal length to the tissues.
If you have any further questions regarding Spinal Decompression Therapy, please call the office at 604 558-1285.