Spinal Decompression: Effective or Ineffective? Safe or Unsafe?

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Spinal decompression refers to the separation of joints, bones and back discs. It is a form of spinal traction which is considered as a treatment of the pressure on the nerves in the back. This separation also helps in improving the boy function as well as relieving the pain.

This therapy involves stretching the spine for back or leg pain relief by using a traction table.

image source -Dynamic Spine and Wellness Center | Tallahassee Chiropractor
                              Spinal Decompression

This type of traction therapy has lots of benefits like it promotes retraction as it creates a negative intradiscal pressure. Also, it increases the healing nutrients into the disc by creating a lower pressure in the disc.

It is even useful in relieving the pain associated with sciatica, degenerative disc disease, and relapse.

Nonsurgical spinal decompression

There are two types of spinal decompression therapies, Surgical and Non- surgical spinal decompression. Among these, the Non-surgical spinal decompression, which does not include surgeries is the more preferred than the former.

The nonsurgical decompression is done by stretching the spine to change the force and position of the spine.

It relieves back pain and is a type of motorized traction. The change in the positioning of the spine helps to release the pressure from the spinal disks in the form of gel-like cushions between the spinal bones.

This may retract the herniated disks or may lead to bulging.

Nonsurgical spinal decompression can also be used to treat neck or back pain. Also, it can be used for weakness in legs, injured spinal root nerves, problems related to degenerative disk disease and worn spinal joints.

The process of Spinal Decompression

Mainly, the spinal decompression is operated with the use of a computer system. This makes it easy for your healthcare provider in adjusting the angle and amount of time the traction force will be applied.

There are some devices used for spinal decompression therapy, like SpinalAid System, VAX-D System, and DRX-9000 System, etc.

The process of involves making the patient lie on a motorized table where the lower half of it can move.

There is a harness attached to the lower table which is placed around your hips. This lower part of the table provides the traction and relaxation as it slides back and forth.

One thing which you should keep in mind is that the patients should feel stretch not pain during the process.

In this decompression therapy, there are series of 15 to 30 treatments. This lasts about 30 to 45 minutes in a period of 1 or 1 1/2 month or so.

Costs and expenses

The total series of treatments prices from $450 to $6000 which means that each session costs around $30 to $200.

The reason that this treatment costs a bit more on your pocket is one of the significant disadvantages of this treatment.

These sessions might also require additional treatments procedures like cold or heat therapy, ultrasound, and electric stimulation.

People who have chosen this treatment are recommended to rest well. They are also suggested intake at least half a gallon of water per day.

Also, you can start doing possible exercises to improve your strength and immunity.

Is spinal decompression therapy effective?

Many times people ask about the efficiency of this therapy, i.e., whether it is useful or not?

Some of the studies, do support the therapeutic benefits whereas some of the experts have considered mechanized spinal decompression and sham decompression equally effective.

But, there are some studies which those which have proved this therapy useful.

In a study on the issue of Physical Therapy Journal, published in 2001, mentioned three types of lower back pains- acute, sub-acute, and chronic. We already know that this therapy helps to eliminate the lower back pain. But in this study, no such benefit was demonstrated when traction was used for low back pain.

There are some claims which point out the flaws of the therapy and question its effectiveness.

But people also claimed that the therapy creates a negative pressure in spinal discs. This ultimately helps to pull the bulging discs back into their place.

Therefore, we cannot say that this therapy is effective. There are many contradictory studies to support the effectiveness of spinal decompression. The researchers are still applying their time in experimenting with different larger and smaller groups in search of the proper evidence.

Therefore, it is better to consult your doctor before actually going for this treatment as it might be good for you or not.


There is a little risk of increase in pain in your lower back particularly problem caused due to the increased size of your herniated disc.

The pros of the same also overshadow the problems which a patient might face or the risks of this therapy.

This non-surgical and non-drug approach is exceptionally safe and has decidedly fewer risks of hurting a patient.

The therapy is instrumental in addressing the structural issue which might be the main reason for causing dysfunction and the patient’s pain. This way of treatment is considered the most direct method of treating this problem.

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