When you learn that 80% of women and men suffer at least one episode of back pain and up to two-thirds have had neck pain, you may decide that chronic pain in your spine is just part of living. But according to the National Institutes of Health, chronic neck and back pain are about more than just discomfort and limited mobility. Back and neck pain are among the leading causes of missing days from work and other important activities.
At Crown Medical Center, founder Chad Mathey, DC, sees firsthand how disabling back and neck pain can be. In many cases, he recommends spinal decompression to realign your spine, take pressure off your spinal discs, and restore health to your neck and lower back.
What spinal decompression does
Spinal decompression is a traction technique that gently stretches your spine to relieve pressure on your vertebral discs, which are rubbery, cushion-like tissue that separates your vertebrae and act as shock absorbers. Over time, or after an injury such as whiplash or lifting a heavy object, your discs may shift out of alignment or bulge.
A misaligned or herniated disc doesn’t properly separate your vertebral bones, so the bones may start to grind or rub against one another. A bulging disc can press on nearby nerves, too, causing pain directly. Although back and neck pain can start in any of the many structures in or around the spine — including muscles, ligaments, and tendons — most chronic back and neck pain is caused by a slipped or herniated disc.
In your spinal decompression session, Dr. Mathey uses a computerized treatment table to alternatively pull on and then relax your spine. This gentle, controlled back-and-forth process creates negative pressure within the disc.
The negative pressure, otherwise known as a vacuum, pulls any bulging discs back into place. The extra disc space created by decompression also promotes the circulation of healing blood, oxygen, and other nutrients in and around the discs.
The decompression process creates a healthier position for your spine, and more room for your discs to heal and function optimally. Dr. Mathey may recommend spinal decompression for:
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
- Herniated discs
- Posterior facet syndrome
- Pinched nerves
Dr. Mathey may not recommend spinal decompression if you’re pregnant, have spinal fractures, or have another medical condition.
What a spinal decompression treatment is like
During spinal decompression for your lower back, you rest on the treatment table either lying on your back or abdomen. We place a harness around your hips, which is then attached to the bottom of the table. If you’re having spinal decompression for neck pain, you sit up slightly and wear a soft, padded harness on your neck.
We program the computer so that it gently pulls on the treatment area for about 45-60 seconds. The gentle pull is followed by 30 seconds of lesser tension (about half of that in the first pull), and then about 15 seconds of decreasing tension until you’re in a relaxed position.
The sequence is repeated for about 30 minutes. You should be comfortable and feel relaxed during the entire pain-free process. You may need a series of up to 30 treatments over four to six weeks to have continuous pain relief.
Treating your spine with decompression is good for your entire body. Your body functions best when your spine is aligned. Creating more disc space also increases the circulation of healing fluids throughout your body.
How you can increase your spinal health
Depending on the factors involved in your back or neck pain, Dr. Mathey may also recommend other treatments, such as physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support your spine. If you have sprains or strains, he may recommend hot or cold therapies or massage.
He designs your individualized treatment plan based on a thorough physical examination and imaging studies, when necessary.
You can also keep your spine healthy after your decompression therapy by adopting a few simple lifestyle changes. Pay attention to how you stand, sit, and move by:
- Standing or sitting with your head level and your earlobes in line with your shoulders
- Raising your phone or another device to eye level, rather than bending your neck down
- Never twisting your spine while lifting an object
- Using your legs — not back— to lift
- Never reaching beyond shoulder level when grabbing high objects; use a stool instead
- Taking breaks from standing or sitting for a long time
- Shifting your weight from one foot to another if you must stand for prolonged periods
- Sleeping on your side to take pressure off your spine
To get relief from chronic back or neck pain without drugs or surgery, contact us today. You can reach Dr. Mathey by phone or online form.