Everything You Need to Know About Spinal Decompression Therapy

Your Guide to Spinal Decompression Therapy

If you suffer from back pain, you'll need spine relief. Spinal decompression therapy is the perfect treatment for relieving back pain.

Back pain is a common condition, and about 80 percent of the people will experience it at some point in their lives.

Depending on the severity of your pain, a doctor can recommend several treatment options, including pain relievers, chiropractic care, bioelectric therapy, physical therapy and nerve blocks. For severe back pain cases, some people turn to spinal decompression therapy to get relief.

This therapy can be either surgical or non-surgical. Whatever the case, it's important to learn more about it.

Let's help you understand this therapy better.

1. Non-Surgical Decompression

Non-surgical spinal decompression is simply a motorized traction process that involves stretching the spine to relieve your pain. In most cases, doctors usually use a motorized table to offer this treatment. It provides an optimal healing environment for herniated, bulging or degenerating disks.

The process works by gently stretching the spine to change its position and force. This reduces the pressure on spinal disks, forcing them to retract. As a result, the nerves and other structures in the spine won't experience pressure.

According to experts, this treatment facilitates movement of oxygen, water, and nutrients into the disks to promote heating. The disks are usually deprived of these supplies due to the pressure.

How Is it Done

During the decompression process, the patiently is usually fully clothed and lie on a motorized table, either supine or in the prone position. Bear in mind that the lower half of the table is usually movable. The doctor will fit a harness around your pelvis and another around your trunk.

The harness around your hips is attached to the lower part of the table around the feet. The upper part of the table usually stays in a fixed position while the lower portion moves back and forth to provide relaxation and traction.

The motorized table is computer-controlled. So, the doctor controls the computer to customize the treatment according to the patient's needs. One treatment can last about 30 to 45 minutes, and you may need 20 to 30 decompression treatments over the course of five to seven weeks.

There's usually no pain during and after the treatment.

Who is Eligible for this Treatment?

Before receiving non-surgical decompression treatment, it's necessary to ask your chiropractor whether you're eligible. Pregnant women are not eligible for this treatment. Those who are suffering from a tumor, fracture, advanced osteoporosis and abdominal aortic aneurysm can't have it, too.

If you have metal implants in the spine, you're not a candidate for decompression.

Is it Effective?

The fundamental theory on non-surgical compression is based on other traction treatments offered by osteopaths and chiropractors. Doctors offer treatment with the goal of relieving pain through reducing pressure on the disks and nerves.

So far, the treatment has yielded positive results, and many patients have reported to experience relief after the procedure. Still, researchers are typing to understand the efficacy of non-surgical decompression for back pain by comparing it to other treatments, such as bracing, physical therapy, exercise, acupuncture, and chiropractic care.


The cost of this treatment is usually on per session-basis. Typically, it's in the range of $30 to $200 per session. Since you may need about 20 to 30 sessions to manage your pain, you'll spend about $600 to $6,000 for the duration of the treatment.

Most insurance companies might not pay for a nonsurgical operation. So, it's wise if you ask your insurance agent about it. Keep in mind that there may be other treatments during your sessions. These include cold and heat therapy, ultrasound, and electric stimulation.

Make sure to ask your doctor if these treatments are charged separately or are included in the per session cost.

2. Surgical Decompression

This a surgical procedure as it's usually used as a last resort for treating certain types of back pain. If other treatment options fail to work, your doctor will recommend surgical decompression to treat ruptured disks and bony growths.

The surgery will help to relieve severe symptoms including pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness.

Types of Surgeries

It helps to know that there are different surgical procedures for decompressing your spine. Your doctor may suggest one or two types of procedures depending on your back pain. In some cases, you may need spinal future to ensure spine stability.

  • Diskectomy - Removal of a part of the disk to reduce pressure
  • Corpectomy - Removal of a vertebral body together with a few disks
  • Osteophyte removal - Here, bony growths are removed
  • Foraminotomy or foraminectomy - Your surgeon removes bone and other tissues to expand the nerve root openings
  • Laminotomy or laminectomy - During this procedure, your surgeon removes a section of the bony arch to increase the spinal canal size and reduce pressure

Depending on the extent of your surgery, you'll stay in the hospital for 4 to 5 days. You'll need to take painkillers to manage any pain caused by the operation. There is rehabilitation program, which is usually lengthy and includes physical therapy.

Possible Risks of Surgery

Like most surgical operations, there are risks of undergoing spinal decompression surgery. The most prevalent risks include blood clots, infection, bleeding, allergy to anesthesia and nerve or tissue damage.

Plus, there is also the possibility that you'll not benefit from the surgery. It can be difficult to determine if the surgical procedures will help to alleviate your back pain. As such, proper consultation is usually important before proceeding with surgery.

Before undergoing any surgical procedure, be sure to follow all the preparation guidelines provided by your doctor. After surgery, you'll be advised to engage in exercises at home to improve your flexibility and strength. Drinking plenty of water and having enough rest is also necessary.

Spinal Decompression - The Takeaway

Spinal decompression is recommended for different conditions, including lower back pain, neck pain, and leg pain. These conditions are usually caused by bulging, herniated or degenerated disks. Usually, your doctor will advise you on the right treatment before you continue.

If the pain is worsening during treatment, your doctor will discontinue the sessions. Also, if you experience pain during and after the procedure, you're not supposed to have future decompression treatments. Keep in mind that this is an alternative treatment and there are other options for you.

Do you have any question about this treatment? We're here to help you. Just reach out to us anytime.