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Spinal Decompression Therapy

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal decompression therapy involves stretching your spine using a manual or motorized traction table to help ease neck, back, or leg pain. It is a non-surgical technique to relieve pressure on your spinal discs and spinal nerves. Spinal traction is also believed to improve the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the spine to promote healing.

Indications of Spinal Decompression Therapy

Spinal decompression is indicated for:

  • Chronic neck, back, or leg pain (sciatica) due to spinal nerve compression
  • Degenerative disc disease such as herniated or bulging disc
  • Spine injury involving damage to spinal nerve roots
  • Wearing away of the facet joints in the back of the vertebra

Contraindications of Spinal Decompression Therapy

  • Pregnant women.
  • People with spine fractures or spine tumors
  • Those with metal implants in the spine
  • Or those with advanced osteoporosis

Procedure of Spinal Decompression Therapy

  • You will be fully clothed during the procedure.
  • You will lay either supine (face up) or proce down) on a computer-controlled table, which is split into an upper and lower half that can extend to provide traction.
  • A harness is applied to keep you stationary.
  • Your doctor operates the computer and applies the proper amount of traction based on your particular spinal condition.
  • The traction force helps reposition your spine.
  • Spinal decompression treatment may last for 30 to 50 minutes. You may require multiple sessions over five to seven weeks for the best outcome.

Your doctor may recommend the following therapies before or after your spinal decompression sessions: Heat or cold therapy

  • Electrical stimulation: This involves passing electric currents into your body to activate certain muscle contractions.
  • Ultrasound: This involves subjecting the affected region of your spine to high-frequency sound waves to generate heat and promote healing.

Surgical spinal decompression: If spinal decompression therapy and other non-surgical treatments do not provide substantial relief, your doctor may recommend surgery for spinal decompression. The different surgical options include:

  • Laminectomy.
  • Discectomy.
  • Foraminectomy.
  • Corpectomy.

The above procedures involve the removal of the damaged or injured parts of your spine to relieve the nerve compression causing your pain.

Risks and Complications of Spinal Decompression Therapy

Non-surgical spinal decompression is generally safe however, it may cause:

  • Sharp pain in your arm or leg.
  • Muscle spasm.


Spinal decompression therapy involves stretching your spine using a manual or motorized traction table to relieve chronic neck, back, or leg pain. It helps take the pressure off your spinal discs and spinal nerves. The negative pressure created can alleviate bulging or herniated discs and increase the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to your spine to promote healing.

  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • Southern Neurosurgical Society
  • North American Spine Society
  • American Board of Neurological Surgery
  • Centinel
  • rediscover