Spinal Decompression – Nonsurgical Sciatica Pain Treatment Method

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Sciatica pain relief through spinal decompression

Sciatica is a painful condition. However, this does not imply that a sciatica pain sufferer must essentially have to deal with this pain throughout his entire life. There are several ways of treating sciatica, and spinal decompression is one of them. This treatment is carried out at a chiropractor’s office. For those looking for sciatic pain treatment involving non-invasive methods, spinal decompression is amongst the most recommended. The treatment process involves diagnosis of the condition, after which your chiropractor decides on the best treatment plan for you.

Spinal DecompressionSpinal decompression therapy is known to be a non-invasive and non-surgical treatment method for sciatica pain, with the minimum possibilities of any risks involved. This therapy was developed way back during the 1990’s, and has gradually gained popularity as one of the safest methods of treating sciatica. As an increasing number of patients understand the reduced risks and advantages of non-surgical treatments, spinal decompression is soon set to be amongst the most preferred of treating sciatica. The technique has worked successfully in more than 80% of such cases, and costs only about 5% of the costs incurred during surgery. Moreover, the process is FDA cleared.

Spinal decompression is a therapeutic approach towards the treatment of disc related issues. Technically, it involves the concept of motorized tractions. The machine used here is known as DRX 9000, and it functions to decompress the affected disc by applying a gentle force to stretch the spine. This gradual but gentle stretching results in separation of the spine’s vertebrae, thus allowing all the pressure to be released. This ultimately leads to formation of vacuum in this region. The vacuum formed then works to realign the nucleus pulposus to its original place, thus treating the bulge. Furthermore, formation of the vacuum also leads to the flow of oxygen and other essential nutrients in the disc, thereby initiating the healing process.


Spinal Decompression Therapy – Is it Painful?

This process of treatment is known to be practically painless, and this has been observed in most of the cases undergoing spinal decompression. In fact, most of the patients are known to fall asleep during the process.

Introduction to Spinal Decompression

Studies and research has shown that a sufferer must go through an average of twenty sessions in a 6 week period to see considerable results. Your therapist may also recommend the use of passive therapies as supporting structures. This is done to minimize inflammation and also speed up the healing process, and these therapies popularly include muscle stimulation by the use of heat or ice, chiropractic adjustments and active rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is known to enhance the strength of spinal musculature.

Spinal Decompression Therapy – Effectiveness of Clinical Trials

A number of clinical trials have been conducted in the past with significantly good results. However, it must be mentioned here that none of these trials were, in fact, Level 1 study.

Eyerman published a study in 1998 in the Journal of Neuroimaging, in which he mentioned that 20 patients who underwent spinal decompression witness reduction in disc herniation. Additionally, he also mentioned that about 10 patients also showed signs of disc rehydration.

Prior to this, in the year 1997, American Journal of Pain Management featured a study conducted by Shealy et al. The results of the study were good, and it mentioned that nearly 86% of patients suffering from ruptured intervertebral discs achieved moderately good to up to excellent results with the therapy. The therapy also took care of back pain and sciatica, and of all patients suffering from facet arthrosis, 75% achieved good to excellent results.

However, one of the biggest and also well-known studies in this field was carried in 2003 by Gionis et al, and was featured in Orthopedic Technology Review. The study was conducted on 219 patients, of which 86% reported immediate and complete resolution of the condition. Of all the patients who underwent the entire treatment process, 84% reported to live pain free for 90 days after the end of the treatment. Physical tests were carried out on patients who completed all the sessions, and 92% showed improved results. These results were seen even after 90 days post treatment in about 89% of the subjects.

Spinal decompression table
A look at what a spinal decompression table looks like and what to expect during a treatment.

Spinal Decompression Therapy – Cost

As mentioned above, a patient must undergo an average of 20 sessions before he or she expects to see considerable results. Typically, the cost for 20 sessions may be anywhere around $1200-$4500. While this may seem a huge amount to some, it is important to understand that considering the risks and costs associated with other spine surgeries, this is relatively lower, and safer.

For those wondering whether or not insurance companies cover the cost of spinal decompression therapy, it is actually a debated issue. While there are some companies which do advertise that they cover this therapy, this may be potentially deceiving. Vertebral traction is covered by most insurance companies, but spinal decompression, being more of a traction-based treatment and not purely traction, may not be covered by your insurance provider. Therefore, most facilities offering this form of treatment ask for cash payment of fees.

Spinal Decompression Therapy – Contraindications

Although spinal decompression is a sure and effective way of treating sciatica pain, the procedure is rather specific. Not all sciatica sufferers are eligible for surgery, since there are some important aspects to take care of. Additionally, spinal decompression may not be equally effective in all cases. For example, it has been observed that those patients suffering from chronic neck or back pain benefit tremendously by the application of this therapy. Some other health issues which can be effectively treated using spinal decompression are lumbar and cervical disc herniation, failed surgery of spine, facet syndrome, degenerative disc problems, and spinal stenosis and ruptured discs.

The decompression therapy is an effective and safe alternative for those considering spinal surgery. A study which was published recently in the Journal of American Medical Association stated that there was not much difference in the effects resulting from non-invasive treatments and surgery when it came to the treatment of sciatic pain caused due to lumbar spine treatment.

There are, however, a few exceptions. For example, if a patient has already undergone spinal fusion with instrumentation, a doctor may advise against the idea of using spinal decompression. Instrumentation, in fact, is the key point here. For those who may have undergone spinal fusion without instrumentation, spinal decompression will work just as desired. The concern mainly involves shifting of the instrumentation. To better understand the situation, let us consider an instance here. Consider a patient who has undergone neck fusion with a plate. Typically, the ultimate result expected is solid fusion and no radiculopathy. Nevertheless, the end result may sometimes be slightly different. It may so happen that the patient may not feel any pain, even though the fusion did not take place. This implies that it is only the instrumentation which is responsible for holding the bones. If the same patient was to undergo spinal decompression, there are possibilities that the traction caused could result in slight shifting of the screw, thereby causing plate displacement.

Pregnancy is another contraindication. Women who undergo pregnancy commonly complain of sciatica and lower back pain. It must be pointed out here that chiropractic care is one of the most recommended methods of treatment during these times, provided all the procedures are carried out with utmost care and in the presence of a professional. Spinal decompression is associated with a slight traction, and the procedure also involves placement of a harness over the abdomen and pelvis region. For effective results, the harness has to be secured firmly in place. This exerts pressure on a woman’s uterus, and could be potentially harmful to the baby.

Health experts also recommend sufferers of spinal osteoporosis to refrain from cervical or lumbar decompression. This is mainly due to the increased possibilities of vertebral compression fractures which can occur because of reduced bone density. Spinal decompression, therefore, only adds to the risk. The treatment, however, is suitable for patients suffering from osteopenia, which occurs due to minor reduction in bone density.

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