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Millions of Americans and many in our Houston, Texas, community live with debilitating back pain. This chronic pain may be from an injury that never fully healed or a failed surgery. Injuries to spinal structures like discs, facet joints, and nerve roots can be difficult to diagnose and treat with chiropractic care, and they are often treated with drugs and surgeries that don’t fix the underlying problem. Most frustratingly, some patients are told that their back pain has continued even though any injury has healed. While it is true that nerve pain can continue after an injury heals, it’s also common for patients to be misdiagnosed. Just because an irritated nerve root isn’t easy to see on an MRI doesn’t mean it’s not there. Patients with conditions like a herniated disc frequently go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Here at Vanguard Spine & Sport, we often recommend spinal decompression therapy for patients to help treat chronic back pain. Spinal decompression therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment that can treat large sections of the spine simultaneously. This means you don’t have to know exactly which spine section is responsible for your pain. Since spinal decompression therapy increases circulation, realigns out-of-place discs, and encourages healing to the whole spinal area, people with “mystery back pain” often find relief.

Here are five things every patient searching for back pain relief should know about spinal decompression therapy.

1. How Does Spinal Decompression Therapy Work to Heal Back Pain?

Spinal decompression therapy is a type of traction that uses a computerized table instead of pulleys and manual manipulation. It’s more effective than manual traction, and it’s the only type of traction proven to create negative pressure within the lumbar spine.

During a spinal decompression therapy session, the patient is comfortably secured to a decompression table that will slowly separate, gently stretching the spine. The provider tells the computer what movements to make based on the patient’s condition. Each session is personalized to the patient’s needs.

As the spine stretches, pressure is taken off nerves, and a vacuum forms in the space around the herniated disc. This negative pressure brings blood flow and nutrients to the area, reduces inflammation, and rehydrates the disc. Repeated sessions move discs back into place and desensitize overactive nerves.

Typically, a patient will come in for a three or four spinal decompression sessions a week for several weeks and then taper down to fewer sessions. Most patients notice a significant difference in back pain after their first week or two of treatment. Best of all, spinal decompression is safe, and the only common side effect is mild muscle soreness that goes away after the first few treatments. Unlike oral medications, spinal decompression treats the root of your back pain and helps your body heal.

2. What Conditions Does Spinal Decompression Therapy Treat?

Spinal decompression therapy is the best non-invasive treatment for injuries and conditions affecting spinal discs, nerve roots, and facet joints. Some of the conditions it can treat include:

  • Chronic low back pain
  • Intervertebral joint dysfunction
  • Lumbar facet syndrome
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Muscle strain
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated discs
  • Sciatica
  • Lumbar radiculopathy

Before recommending a spinal decompression therapy treatment plan, your provider will conduct a thorough exam, including imaging. Some conditions like arthritis cannot be reversed or completely cured, but spinal decompression therapy can make symptoms more manageable.

3. Spinal Decompression Therapy Prevents and Treats Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain can result from an injury to a spinal structure that is never properly diagnosed or treated. In these cases, getting the right treatment can help the body heal and completely relieve pain. When patients are promptly treated with spinal decompression therapy, it greatly improves their chances of healing completely from their acute injury so that it doesn’t turn into chronic pain.

In cases where chronic pain is caused by degenerative conditions like arthritis or degenerative disc disease, spinal decompression therapy can relieve pain and stiffness and improve quality of life. It does this by lowering inflammation, rehydrating discs, and improving circulation to low-circulation areas within joints and the disc space. In these cases, some healing and inflammation mitigation is better than none. Even though these conditions can’t be cured, pain, stiffness, and range of motion can significantly improve with treatment.

4. Spinal Decompression Therapy Can Treat Failed Back Surgeries

If you’ve had a failed back surgery (defined as back pain that continues for more than six months after the surgery), spinal decompression therapy can help. It’s not appropriate for all back surgery patients, such as those with hardware implants or spinal fusions, but most other back surgery patients are good candidates for treatment.

Back surgeries can fail for several reasons. Sometimes the operation is done on the wrong section of the spine. Other times the surgeon creates too much or too little space around nerve roots. In some cases, the spinal problem that was operated on turns out not to be the problem that was responsible for most of the patient’s pain. For instance, if a patient has several problems in different parts of their spine, the doctor may target the one nearest the painful area without achieving the desired results.

Regardless of why your back surgery failed, spinal decompression therapy can help you find relief. Many patients who try spinal decompression therapy do it as a last attempt after every other treatment, including surgery, has failed. Most are shocked to find that they are finally experiencing pain relief. As a holistic treatment that can be used on the whole spine, decompression therapy can treat problems that surgeons can’t see. Decompression can also aid healing if your lingering pain is from the surgery itself.

5. The Results of Spinal Decompression Therapy are Long-lasting

Studies indicate that the results of spinal decompression therapy last for years, even in patients with chronic spine conditions. Some patients with degenerative conditions choose to come in for “booster” sessions once a month or a few times a year. Other patients simply follow through with their initial spinal decompression therapy treatment plan. In both cases, patients report considerably less pain after completing their initial treatment regimen. This remains true even several years later.

Spinal Decompression Therapy in Houston, Texas

At Vanguard Spine and Sport, we provide comprehensive non-surgical treatment for people dealing with back and neck pain. Spinal decompression therapy has been effective for our patients living with chronic pain and acute injury and can help you find back pain relief today. Schedule a consultation today to find out if spinal decompression therapy is right for you.