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Everything You Need To Understand About The Spinal Decompression Process

A multitude of individuals experience back and neck discomfort, which can be incapacitating in severe instances. There are various causes, but some severe conditions are linked to problems surrounding spinal discs, the flexible material that functions as shock absorbers between the vertebrae.

From deteriorating disc condition to protruding or herniated discs, these distressing conditions often deteriorate over time. Additionally, there are other worrisome spine-related factors like radiculopathy (compression of spinal nerve roots) and spinal stenosis (narrowing of space within the spine, putting added pressure on the spinal column and its nerves) that can induce significant pain, especially in the neck and lower back regions.

Moreover, there can be added repercussions from the compression on the sciatica nerves, causing additional pain to radiate along those nerves through the buttocks and hips, often extending down both legs.

How can one alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms? One potential answer lies in spinal decompression.

Spinal decompression is a therapy crafted to elongate the spine and modify its alignment to alleviate pressure on the spinal discs. There exist both surgical and non-surgical versions of this approach, but the upshot typically involves substantial pain relief.

How Non-Invasive Spinal Decompression Treatment Functions

Despite the somewhat intimidating name of this procedure, the process itself is rather straightforward. Traditionally, the individual will lie on a bespoke table created for this purpose known as, unsurprisingly, a Spinal Decompression Table.

This table usually takes one of two forms.

The initial approach incorporates a system of cords and pulleys meticulously calibrated to offer an appropriate “pull” on the body to stretch the spine. The primary aim is to alleviate pressure on the spinal discs and nerves, thereby reducing the pain.

The second table type features an array of distinct sections along the top and bottom of the body that operate autonomously. While the individual is at rest, the device imparts a “massage,” with each section working in opposition to elongate the spine, generating negative pressure.

Although both machines can yield excellent results, some specialists advocate for the latter as it has a tendency to provoke less “muscle guarding,” a condition where the body is tense and prepared to respond, somewhat akin to how the body reacts when maintaining the exercise position referred to as a “plank,” except in this case, the muscles are merely partially stretched.

Prolonged exposure to this muscle stiffness can result in additional tenderness.

About 20 sessions typically spanning between a half-hour to a quarter of an hour are usually required for spinal decompression therapy. Before or after these sessions, the chiropractor may incorporate electrical stimulation, heat or cold therapy, and occasionally ultrasounds to activate muscles with sound waves, generating warmth and promoting healing.

Is this Process Painful?

Although experiencing soreness is common, there should not be an excess of pain. In fact, the outcome frequently involves diminished pain, as the purpose of the procedure is to alleviate the pressure on the discs and nerves responsible for the pain in the initial stages.

In the event sharp pain is encountered, it is advisable to promptly inform your chiropractor as a precaution.

Factors Disincentivizing Non-Invasive Spinal Therapy

Several severe medical conditions may preclude the pursuit of this treatment, as it could exacerbate those conditions.

If an individual has a tumor, fracture, advanced osteoporosis, or is afflicted with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, they should refrain from this form of therapy unless sanctioned by a licensed medical practitioner.

Patients with metal implants in the spine should also abstain from it.

Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy

Referred to as “lumbar decompression surgery,” this type of decompression therapy typically entails one of three procedures (based on the specific ailment), conducted under general anesthesia to ensure the patient remains oblivious to any sensations during the surgery.

  1. Laminectomy – An endeavor to ease nerve pressure by excising a portion of spinal bone.
  2. Discectomy – Analogous to the laminectomy, however, in this scenario, a segment of the impaired spinal disc is extracted.
  3. Spinal Fusion – The surgeon merges two or more vertebrae using a bone fragment to fortify the spine.

What are the Potential Risks During Surgery?

Similar to most intrusive surgeries, there are inherent risks that might potentially be fatal.

Fortunately, with surgical decompression therapy, serious issues are exceedingly rare.

Several plausible risks from this surgery include possible nerve damage, tissue harm, blood clots, hemorrhaging, and infection. A few patients might experience reactions owing to an allergy to anesthesia.

Moreover, there is a probability that the surgery could be inefficacious or yield limited results. Nevertheless, this surgery has generally produced favorable outcomes, with three-quarters of individuals experiencing considerably reduced pain as a consequence.

What Is The Recovery Duration?

Unless the surgery was notably intricate or resulted in limited mobility, patients typically can be discharged from the hospital within four days.

Ordinarily, the capability to walk is restored within a day, but intense activities are curtailed for roughly six weeks, coinciding with the period when a return to work is feasible, provided that the job does not entail extensive heavy lifting.

The Takeaway

Discomfort associated with the spine can be excruciating and incapacitating, but there are remedies that can markedly enhance the quality of life or even serve as an efficacious remedy to the issue.

Non-invasive decompression therapy can be efficacious for most forms of disc or nerve-related issues and offer immediate short-term as well as enduring relief. These methods are generally straightforward and yield minimal pain.

For more severe cases, surgical lumbar decompression can rectify graver issues, substantially ameliorating pain or conceivably addressing the problem wholly. Nonetheless, this scenario is not devoid of risks, yet a considerable proportion of these individuals experience noteworthy improvement due to these procedures.

It is always prudent to seek counsel from a seasoned medical professional or chiropractor for guidance on managing your specific condition.

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