A relatively new treatment is available for difficult back pain, low back pain and neck pain. It is called spinal decompression, and is somewhat like traction, but more sophisticated in its engineering.
Spinal decompression is defined as a surgical procedure that is intended to relieve pressure on the spinal cord - or on a compressed nerve root(s) - passing through or exiting the human spinal column. Decompression of the spinal neural elements is a key component in treating several spine related conditions such as claudication, spinal radiculopathy and myelopathy.
The reason it usually helps patients is based on a simple, factual premise- as we age, our spines get more compressed. Eventually, this can cause pain and disability. This new spinal decompression treatment is the most effective way we have had to reverse this process.
Reversing spinal compression is the most direct way to treat pain and disability that arises from this process.
Most patients will improve significantly with this treatment approach. It should be offered to almost all patients who have neck pain or low back pain, because it usually helps, even when other treatments, including injections have not helped.
In the short term, it works by relieving pressure on discs, nerves and joints - the usual sources of neck and back pain.
In the longer term, it works by improving the physiology and height of spinal discs. Spinal discs are a little like sponges. They get compressed by life's physical demands. They recover each night when you lie down, by imbibing water. But the process isn't sufficient to recover completely, and as we age, our discs slowly dehydrate, tear, bulge, herniate, flatten and do a poorer job of providing a cushion for the bones/vertebrae of our spines.
In animal studies, we can artificially cause quicker disc degeneration by compressing the disc.
What is interesting is that we can artificially regenerate the disc by pulling it apart, i.e. decompressing it. When discs are stretched, pulled, distracted, decompressed, they get more water, oxygen and nutrients inside them, the environment inside the disc becomes healthier for the cells that live in the disc, these cells make more cells and all the cells start to make more molecules to repair the disc. All these changes result in a better, healthier, less painful disc and the adjacent vertebrae and ligaments and nerves.
So when you have neck pain or low back pain or back pain, make sure you get a chance to try a series of spinal decompression treatments to improve your problem.
Treatments should number 12 to 30 treatments and should last about 30 minutes. This amounts to a total of no more than 15 hours of decompression time. This is not a long time to treat the discs, which have slowly degenerated over the course of decades. Don't be short-sighted about the treatment time. You must comply with the physiologic dictates of the spinal disc.
Craig Castanet, D.C. is a chiropractor in atlanta with 24 years experience. He has worked with an orthopedist, several physical medicine physicians, physical therapists and a neurosurgeon and has participated in the treatment of 37,000 patients. Visit him at www.backstrong.net or call his office at 770-908-0740.
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