Spinal decompression is a non-surgical procedure that is used in certain cases when a patient is experiencing pain, stiffness, or numbness that can be connected to a specific origin in the neck or back. Dr. Solomon Kamson MD, PhD notes that with any back problem, it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis in order to understand your treatment options. If you are curious about spinal decompression, here’s an overview of some of the basics.
What Can Spinal Decompression Treat?
Spinal decompression can be used to treat many sources of back pain, but it is not suitable for all problems. Generally, more conservative treatments are used before performing even a completely nonsurgical spinal decompression. Back pain that stems from a tumor, fracture, or osteoporosis, is not treatable with spinal decompression. It is important that your physician knows about your medical history and any medication you may be on, as some conditions may mean that you are not a good candidate for spinal decompression.
What Happens in a Spinal Decompression Procedure?
For the actual decompression procedure itself, the patient is strapped into a harness while lying on a bed. The harness, which is attached to the lower part of the table, can move about, allowing the doctor to perform stretches and rotations in order to decompress the spine. The procedure takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, and is performed entirely by the doctor through a computer that allows him or her to maneuver the lower end of the table. If compression is being caused by damaged tissue or bone growths (osteophytes), these may need to be surgically removed in order to relieve the pressure on the spine.
In some cases, additional therapeutic treatments are used before or after the procedure. These might include heat and cold therapy, ultrasound therapy, or electrical stimulation. The determination for whether or not you will need one of these other therapies depends on the degree to which your physician thinks that the spinal decompression procedure will provide you with pain relief.
Decompression is also used in some cases as a complement to other kinds of minimally invasive spine surgery. The results that can be obtained from spinal decompression are unique to each patient, so it’s important to work with a physician whom you trust when it comes to treating your back pain.