What Is Spinal Decompression?

Are you suffering from severe back pain? Is the pain keeping you from living your best life?

If your affliction has you considering spinal decompression, you have likely heard a thing or two about it. Spinal decompression has been around for decades treating spine-related problems. The truth is, there is a lot about it that you don’t know.

Read on to learn about spinal decompression and what you need to know before deciding if it is the right treatment for you.

Understanding Spinal Decompression

The spine consists of vertebrae, which are separated by intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers. Over time, due to age, injury, or poor posture, these discs can become compressed or degenerate, resulting in conditions like:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Spinal stenosis

When a disc is compressed or displaced, it can put pressure on the surrounding nerves, causing the following:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Limited mobility

Spinal decompression therapy aims to create negative pressure within the affected spinal discs. It relieves the pressure on the spine and allows nutrients, oxygen, and water to flow back into the disc.

By creating space between the vertebrae, decompression promotes the retraction of herniated discs. This reduces nerve compression and promotes the natural healing process.

There are two types of decompression: mechanical decompression and manual decompression. Spinal decompression can be achieved through various methods. Each method has its own approach and techniques. 

Mechanical Decompression

Mechanical decompression involves the use of specialized equipment. This equipment is designed to apply traction and stretching forces to the spine.

These devices are found in clinical settings and are operated by healthcare professionals. Some common types of mechanical spinal decompression devices include:

Decompression Tables

Decompression tables, such as the DRX9000, utilize motorized traction to gently stretch the spine. The patient lies on the table, and a computer-controlled system applies a pulling force to specific segments of the spine. The force can be adjusted to target the affected area accurately. Decompression tables are often used for conditions like:

  • Herniated discs
  • Sciatica
  • Degenerative disc disease

Inversion Tables

Inversion tables are specialized tables that allow the patient to be positioned upside down or at an inverted angle. By hanging inverted, gravity helps to stretch and decompress the spine. This method can temporarily relieve pressure on the discs and nerves. Inversion tables are commonly used for mild to moderate cases of back pain.

Mechanical Traction Devices

Mechanical traction devices use a pulley system or motorized mechanism to apply a controlled pulling force to the spine. This force helps stretch the vertebrae and discs, creating space and reducing pressure on the nerves. Mechanical traction can be performed in various positions, such as lying down or sitting.

Manual Decompression

Manual decompression techniques involve hands-on manipulation and stretching of the spine. These techniques are commonly performed by the following healthcare workers:

  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Osteopathic physicians

Some manual decompression methods include:

Spinal Adjustments

Spinal adjustments are also known as spinal manipulations. They can be performed by chiropractors in a chiropractic clinic, like Bloor Yonge Chiropractic.

This treatment involves applying controlled force to specific vertebrae to restore proper alignment. Spinal adjustments can help relieve pressure on the nerves and improve overall spinal function. chiropractic clinic


Mobilizations involve gentle and rhythmic movements of the spine to improve joint mobility. This technique is performed by healthcare professionals. They use their hands to apply controlled pressure and movement to specific areas of the spine.

Soft Tissue Therapies

Soft tissue therapies focus on addressing muscle tension and tightness around the spine. By releasing tension in the soft tissues, these therapies can help reduce stress on the spine and promote relaxation. Soft tissue therapy examples are:

  • Massage
  • Myofascial release
  • Trigger point therapy

Benefits of Spinal Decompression:

Spinal decompression offers several potential benefits for individuals suffering from spinal conditions. Here are some of the benefits associated with this non-surgical treatment approach:

Pain Relief

One of the primary benefits of spinal decompression is pain relief. By reducing pressure on the spinal discs and nerves, spinal decompression can alleviate pain. The discomfort is usually caused by conditions like:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal stenosis

Many patients experience a reduction in pain levels and improved quality of life after undergoing therapy.

Non-Invasive Approach

Spinal decompression is a non-invasive treatment option. It means it does not involve surgical interventions. This is beneficial for individuals who prefer to avoid surgery or are not suitable for surgical procedures.

Non-invasive treatments carry fewer risks and have no incisions. It generally requires less recovery time compared to surgery.

Minimal Side Effects

Spinal decompression therapy is generally considered safe and has minimal side effects. Some individuals may experience temporary soreness or mild discomfort after treatment. These effects are usually short-lived and easily manageable.

Improved Function and Mobility

Spinal decompression can help improve spinal mobility and function. Creating space between the vertebrae allows for better spine movement and flexibility. The improved spinal function can lead to the following:

  • Increased range of motion
  • Better posture
  • Enhanced physical performance

Potential Avoidance of Surgery

Spinal decompression therapy can provide a viable alternative to surgery. By relieving pain and promoting healing, it may help some patients avoid the need for surgical intervention.

This is especially advantageous for individuals who prefer non-surgical options. It’s also an option for those who have underlying health conditions that make surgery risky.

Holistic Approach

Spinal decompression therapy often takes a holistic approach to treating spinal conditions. It aims to address the underlying causes of pain and discomfort rather than simply masking the symptoms.

By promoting the body’s natural healing process, spinal decompression can lead to long-term relief. It can also improve overall well-being.

Customization and Individualized Treatment

Spinal decompression therapy can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual. Healthcare professionals can customize the treatment plan based on the following:

  • Patient’s condition
  • Symptoms
  • Patient’s response to therapy

This individualized approach helps patients receive the appropriate treatment for their condition.

Relieve Spine Pressure Through Spinal Decompression

Spinal Decompression is an effective and common treatment for back pain. It creates a negative intra-discal pressure within the spine which relieves pressure on nerve roots and discs. If you are suffering from back pain, ask your doctor if Spinal Decompression is the right option for you!

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