Spinal decompression offers a non-evasive, cost effective way to treat neck or low back pain. Decompression is a suitable choice for both acute (short term) injuries as well as chronic (long term) pain. While it is a suitable treatment for just pain, it also provides excellent results with bulging or herniated discs. These conditions have many treatment options including surgery, so it is important to know all the options available to you as a patient and how you would like to dictate your care.
What is decompression?
Spinal decompression is a treatment option for herniated or bulging discs, canal stenosis, or diffuse general pain. This is achieved with constant pumping pressure gently pulling on the effected area.
Why does it help?
Spinal decompression can help a variety of symptoms because it has a variety of effects on the body. It can help muscular problems (tight neck/back, muscle spasm, etc) because it is able to exhaust these muscles. When the body is injured it instinctively tightens the area to protect itself, and it is usually a good thing. However sometimes the body takes it a little too far and you can be stuck with pain not from the initial injury, but from the body’s reaction to that injury. With decompression, these muscles are fatigued they are forced to relax giving you the relief you’ve been searching for. As for discs both bulging and herniated, the mechanism of the decompression is what is so beneficial. The gentle pumping motion (which is so quick, it will feel constant to you) allows nutrients to enter the disc at a much quicker rate than normal. Discs are avascular (they have no direct blood/nutrient supply) and get their ”food” essentially from movement. The problem with this is, when you have one of these conditions the last thing you want to do is go and move around. Decompression offers a pain-free way to help give your body what it needs to help get better quicker. Decompression offers “the immediate relief of symptoms….suggesting a reduction of inflammatory infiltrates affecting the nociceptive fibers(pain generating fibers); while the decompressive forces to the disc allowed increase imbibition and complete reduction of the visualized extruded herniation” in some cases (1).
What are my other options?
While decompression is a fantastic option to treat your neck or low back pain, it is not the only option. Primarily for disc issues the most common other route is surgery to try to repair the disc or remove the already excluded disc material from the body. Surgery for a discectomy is around $15,000 average, so it is not something to be taken lightly (7). Of course, with surgery there are always certain risks that are involved. Besides complications, one of these risks is that you will undergo surgery and find that “both surgery and nonoperative treatment groups improved substantially over a 2-year period” (5). Along with post-surgery risk to your body, you involve yourself in the realm of opioids to recover from the surgery and as many of you have seen lately, the opioid epidemic is running rampant.
So why decompression?
Decompression is fantastic because it is a cheap, non-invasive technique that can be started or stopped at any time. It is not one big decision that is irreversible as something like surgery is. The great thing about decompression is that it can be combined with other modalities in order to increase its effectiveness. In one study “16 of 18 patients had clinically significant improvement as measured by a decline in chronic low back pain and improvement in the Oswestry Disability Index. The treatment protocol in that study included instruction on lumbar stretching exercises, myofascial release, or heat prior to spinal decompression treatment and the use of cold or muscle stimulation or both after the sessions and mean verbal rating pain scores equaled to 6.05 at presentation and decreased significantly to .89 at the end of an 8-week treatment” (2). It also helps with pain, in one study “5.99 on a 0 to 10 scale at initial presentation decreased to 0.87 after last treatment with a reduction of NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) (41% of patients) and opioid (24% of patients) use decreased (<5%) after treatment with decompression (3). If absolutely necessary surgery can still be an option after these non-invasive options have been exhausted. Unfortunately, it does not work the other way around. Once surgery has been performed there is no way to go back.
Decompression provides a safe, cost-effective way to treat both neck and low back pain in most cases. If you have any questions on decompression or how to schedule an appointment you can contact us in these ways!
Benson, RT, et al. “Conservatively Treated Massive Prolapsed Discs: a 7-Year Follow-Up.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025225/.
Eugene Sherry, Peter Kitchener & Russell Smart. “A prosepective randomized controlled study of VAX-D and TENS for the treatment of chronic low back pain.” Neurological Research, 23:7, 780-784, DOI: 10.1179/016164101101199180
Leslie, John, et al. “Prospective Evaluation of the Efficacy of Spinal Decompression via the DRX9000 for Chronic Low Back Pain.” Backclinicsofcanada, The Journal of Medicine, Sept. 2008, www.backclinicsofcanada.ca/pdf/sequencemed-sample.pdf.
Macario, Alex, et al. “Motorized Spinal Decompression for Chronic Discogenic Low Back Pain: Chart Review of 100 Outpatients.” Backclinicsofcanada, American Society of Anesthesiologists , Oct. 2006, www.backclinicsofcanada.ca/pdf/ASA_Chart_Review.pdf.
Mummaneni, P V, et al. “Cost-Effectiveness of Lumbar Discectomy and Single-Level Fusion for Spondylolisthesis: Experience with the NeuroPoint-SD Registry.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24881635.
Weinstein, James N., et al. “Surgical vs Nonoperative Treatment for Lumbar Disk Herniation.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Nov. 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2553805/.
Yochum, Terry, and Chad Maola. “Treatment of an L5/S1 Extruded Disc Herniation Using a DRX-9000 Spinal Decompression Unit: a Case Report.” Backclinicsofcanada, Chiropractic Economics , www.backclinicsofcanada.ca/pdf/DRX-9000-Study.pdf.
Yochum, Terry, and Chad Maola. “Treatment of an L5/S1 Extruded Disc Herniation Using a DRX-9000 Spinal Decompression Unit: a Case Report.” Backclinicsofcanada, Chiropractic Economics, www.backclinicsofcanada.ca/pdf/DRX-9000-Study.pdf.
The immediate relief of symptoms in this patient suggest a reduction of inflammatory infiltrates affecting the nociceptive fibers; while the decompressive forces to the disc allowed increased imbibition and complete reduction of the visualized extruded herniation
Overall, 16 of 18 patients had clinically significant improvement as measured by a decline in chronic low back pain and improvement in the Oswestry Disability Index.
The treatment protocol in that
study included instruction on lumbar stretching exercises, myofascial
release, or heat prior to spinal decompression treatment and the use
of cold or muscle stimulation or both after the sessions. All clinical
diagnoses were supported by MRI findings. In that study, the median
pain duration before treatment was 260 weeks. Mean verbal rating
pain scores equaled 6.05 at presentation and decreased significantly
to 0.89 at the end of an 8-week treatment (
< .0001). Analgesic use
also appeared to decrease, and activities of daily living improved.
Follow-up (mean, 31 weeks) on 29 of the 94 patients reported mean
pain improvement of 83%, mean verbal rating pain scores of 1.7, and
satisfaction of 8.55 out of 10 (median, 9). No adverse events were
identified in those patient records.
Subjects had mean pain score of 5.99 on a 0 to 10 scales (0=no pain, 10=worst pain) at the pain of initial presentation that decreased to 0.87 after last DRX treatment. NSAID (41% of patients) and opioid (24% of the patients) use decreased (<5%) after treatment with decompression.
Patients were randomly assigned to VAX-D or to TENS which was used as a control treatment or placebo. The TENS treatment demonstrated a success rate of 0%, while VAX-D demonstrated a success rate of 68.4% (p < 0.001). A statistically significant reduction in pain and improvement in functional outcome was obtained in patients with chronic low back pain treated with VAX-D.
(5) Need dr. morgan’s article??? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2553805/