- What is Spinal Decompression Pain Treatment?
- Is it covered by insurance?
- When should I get surgery?
- What causes back pain?
- How and why does Spinal Decompression work?
- Is traction the same as spinal decompression?
- What is a disc?
- What is a bulging or herniated disc?
- What is sciatica?
- Disuse Muscle Atrophy
- Rehab, Rehab, Rehab
- What technologies are used in Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatment?
- How does the DRX 9000 work?
What is Spinal Decompression Back Pain Treatment?
Anyone who suffers from chronic back pain knows how debilitating it can be. One possible solution is non-surgical back pain treatment, which is a non-invasive procedure that is designed to relieve pressure either on the spinal cord itself or on compressed nerve roots in and around the spinal column.
Successful non-surgical spinal disc therapy can permanently lessen or altogether alleviate back pain via disc therapy of the spinal neural elements. The end goal is to achieve spinal decompression.
Non-surgical back pain treatment is an advanced treatment that can eliminate the need for invasive surgery. Performed using FDA-approved equipment (such as the DRX9000) using safe and professional techniques, non-surgical disc therapy applies a controlled gentle traction force to the spine and the surrounding structures in a very precise manner to help reduce pressure on the nerves and discs.
It has proven very beneficial for helping to treat or reduce the pain from a number of ailments, including pinched nerves, bulging disks, herniated disks, sciatica, arm pain, leg pain, degenerative disk disease, facet syndrome, spinal stenosis and other forms of pain.
Is it covered by insurance?
Most health insurance policies will provide reimbursement for the procedural billing codes utilized in the specialized conservative non-surgical treatment provided in our office.
We accept most insurances, so please call our office to check with our insurance specialist.
When Should I Get Surgery?
Surgery should be reserved for the most serious cases and only as a last resort. Procedures such as diskectomies, laminotomies, foraminotomies, corpectomies, and osteophyte removal can be performed to treat severe back issues, including bulging or ruptured disks, bony growths, and other spinal conditions.
What causes back pain?
There are many reasons that a patient might experience back pain. The most common source is a mechanical issue or soft-tissue injury, such as from a torn or pulled muscle or strained ligament. Other injuries can include damage to the intervertebral discs, a compression or pinching of nerve roots, or spinal joints that are misaligned.
A person who suffers from a strain has most likely stretched a back muscle too far, causing some amount of tearing, or alternatively, torn or stretched a ligament, the tissue that connects bones together.
These injuries can occur for any number of reasons, including lifting an object that is too heavy for a person or lifting with incorrect technique, a sudden impact, such as from a fall or car collision, poor posture, or a sports injury.
How and why does Spinal Decompression work?
Spinal decompression works on the theory that by gently separating the vertebrae from each other, it is possible to create a space, or a vacuum, between the vertebrae. This is referred to as negative pressure, and when successful, causes bulging or herniated disks to retract into place, thereby reducing the pressure on the nerve root that has been the source of the pain.
The actual amount of space created is minuscule in scope, but over the course of the treatment, the results can be a significant reduction in the level of pain and other symptoms. The procedure is able to stimulate the flow of water, oxygen, and nutrients into the disks, which helps to boost the healing process.
Studies support the benefits of the treatment. Dr. John Leslie, of the Mayo Clinic, conducted research that indicated non-surgical spinal disc therapy is 88.9% effective, based on a multi-center, non-randomized pilot study. The patients included in the research had been suffering chronic back pain for an average of 10 years. Two weeks of treatment was enough to produce a 50% reduction in pain scores.
Is traction the same as spinal decompression? What is a Disc?
The spinal column of the human body contains 33 vertebrae. The upper 24 of these are articulating, meaning they are separate joints, and the lower nine are fused together. The articulated vertebrae are separated by 23 intervertebral disks, the primary purpose of which are to act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae in order to reduce friction. These discs also serve as both ligaments and cartilaginous joints to hold the spine together and allow for some mobility.
Vertebral discs are made up of two parts. The outer portion has a tough circular exterior made up of concentric sheets of collagen fibers. This part surrounds the inner core, which consists of a loose network of fibers suspended in a mucoprotein gel. In order to perform their function properly, the disks must stay hydrated, with enough fluid to maintain both their strength and pliability.
When the disks slip out of place, are misaligned, or become deformed somehow, this can lead to minor to severe problems, including bulging disks, back and neck pain, and sciatica.
What is a Bulging or Herniated Disk?
It is possible for a disc between the vertebrae to become damaged so that it will bulge and push into the spinal column. This can lead to pain, anywhere from minor to severe, in the neck, shoulders, or chest, as well as other symptoms, such as tingling and numbness on one side of the body and weakness in the limbs.
As people age, the spinal disks suffer from a great deal of friction, and the older you are, the more likely you are to have a bulging disk. In the worst cases, they may become herniated. A herniated disk is one that has been ruptured, allowing the fluid inside to leak out.
There are many different causes of bulging or herniated disks, including poor posture, smoking, alcohol consumption, working in an occupation that requires repetitive lifting, bending, standing or driving, improper lifting techniques, contact sports, severe trauma (from a car accident, fall, etc), or a genetic condition. The good news is that these injuries can often be treated by non-surgical spinal disc therapy without requiring surgery.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition that leads to pain along the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the nerve with the largest diameter in the human body. The nerve branches from the lower back down through the hips and buttocks all the way to the knee. Pain from sciatica typically only affects one side of the body.
The most common causes of sciatica are a herniated disk, bone spur, or narrowing of the spine, which compresses or pinches the sciatic nerve and can lead to inflammation, pain, numbness, tingling, leg weakness, or bowel or bladder changes.
The risk of sciatica increases depending on a number of factors, including age, obesity, mobility, occupation, and diabetes.
Disuse Muscle Atrophy
Maintenance and proper function of spinal supporting skeletal muscle is essential for health, survival, and support against gravitational forces.
Disuse atrophy of paraspinal muscles are caused by mechanical unloading of postural skeletal muscle and this can lead to reduced muscle mass and weakness. Many causes of skeletal muscle disuse include trauma, lack of exercise, prolonged sitting, overuse syndromes and other causes.
This can be seen by looking at MRI imaging of the surrounding spinal soft tissues. Most of the time we see fatty infiltration of the supporting spinal muscles which can lead to disc bulging/herniation, facet syndrome, sciatica, and stenosis.
If these issues are not addressed with postural strengthening exercises, the underlying cause of pain may not fully be corrected.
Rehab, Rehab, Rehab
When patients present for non-surgical spinal disc therapy we corollate the MRI findings to determine if there is disuse atrophy of para-spinal muscles. Then we prescribe them with specific exercises that help strengthen the weakened and atrophied supporting muscles working again.
This combination with the spinal traction helps provide many patients with relief from back, neck pain and numbness/tingling in their extremities.
What technologies are used in Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatment?
When treated non-surgically, spinal disc therapy involves intermittently stretching and relaxing the spine in a controlled manner to create the negative pressure mentioned above. Our goal is to achieve spinal decompression.
In addition to allowing the space for fluid to return to the disk, it is also possible that the bulged or herniated disc will be pulled back into place.
Several methods are currently in practice, but they all share similar principles and generally involve some kind of motorized platform that the patient is strapped to. One portion of the platform is moved to provide alternating traction and relaxation of the spine. Some machines require the patient to lie prone (ie. facedown) while others require a supine position (face up), such as the DRX9000.
During this procedure, the patient should not feel any pain, but rather a firm stretching of the spine. It is very important that any treatment be administered by a licensed professional, as unsupervised remedies can actually worsen the condition and lead to more severe symptoms.
How does the DRX9000 work?
The DRX9000 provides a primary treatment method for the management of pain and disability caused by lower back pain and sciatica. The system has been carefully designed to apply spinal traction forces to the spine and provides relief of pain and symptoms associated with various back injuries and conditions.
The machine works by gently lengthening and stretching the spine to relieve the pressure on the nerve that is causing the pain and discomfort. During treatment, the patient will lie in a supine position (face up). When the patient is strapped into the harness and the machine is turned on, it will gently stretch the affected area.
Not all back pain can be treated with this method of non-surgical spinal disc therapy, but clinical results indicate a high frequency of success. If you are interested in enjoying a pain-free life, contact us today to learn more about how spinal disc therapy might be right for you.
While traction and decompression are commonly confused by many patients, they are actually two very different forms of treatment. In medicine, traction is defined as the application of a sustained pull on a limb or muscle, especially in order to maintain the position of a fractured bone or to correct a deformity. Doctors who specialize in lumbar spine medicine do not generally recommend traction for back treatment, as it can actually aggravate the problem by inducing the para-spinal muscles to contract. The result is actually an increase in the pressure on the disk, rather than a lessening.
Decompression, on the other hand, is induced by gradually increasing the distraction forces in a prescribed manner in order to create the negative space mentioned above. A dedicated machine, such as the DRX9000, can regulate the alternating application of distraction forces offset by periods of relaxation to optimize the decompression effects.
A good decompression system is able to monitor the amount of spinal resistance and then adjust the distraction forces in response. The machine will target a specific area, such as a lumbar segment, by regulating the exact angle of distraction. Doing the procedure in this manner reduces the chances of muscle spasms, which can also prevent decompression.
These machines also use a pelvic harness that will provide support for the lumbar region of the spine during decompression. In this way, over the course of the entire process, the negative pressure is consistently maintained. By properly analyzing the area of pain and applying pressure in this calculated manner, damaged discs can be re-hydrated, allowing them to more quickly heal.
No. Traction machines date back for hundreds of years, and function based on the most basic technology. As already mentioned, doctors today understand that traction may have no effect, or actually exacerbate the injury. A 2010 Cochrane review of 25 studies found that traction was no better than a placebo treatment or no treatment at all.
Another treatment is known as distraction, and it also is commonly confused with decompression therapy. Flexion-Distraction Therapy is a technique that tries to reposition the spine. This technique can sometimes be effective but largely depends upon the skill of the person performing the treatment. As with traction, this procedure is not very effective at reducing pressure on the discs, which requires negative pressure.
With true decompression therapy, a precise and calculated combination of restraint, angle position, and pressure will induce a separation of the vertebrae in order to create a vacuum between them, thereby reducing the pressure on the nerve root that is causing the patient’s pain.
Results will vary for each patient, but it is not uncommon for patients experiencing chronic back pain to achieve positive results after only three sessions.
A typical treatment lasts between 25 to 30 minutes. An average patient will require between 20 and 30 treatments, although many patients report improvements after as few as 3 sessions.
The treatment length differs according to the type of ailment. Patients suffering from bulging or herniated discs will typically find relief within 20 visits. On the other hand, those patients who have some form of degenerative disc disease may require continued treatment to deal with the pain. As every individual responds differently to treatment, it is advised that you consult with a trained professional to find the course of treatment that works best for you.
The spine and back form a complicated system and there is no one-size-fits-all diagnosis. Back and cervical pain, as well as other symptoms, can be the result of injured muscles, tendons, ligaments, or other soft tissue that lead to pressure being placed on the nerves. This type of condition is commonly referred to as intervertebral disc syndrome and does not necessarily require an MRI to be diagnosed (though an MRI is recommended to pinpoint the exact problem area).
Patients who are at least 18 years of age with any of the following ailments can likely benefit from decompression therapy:
- Those suffering from herniated or bulging discs, with pain lasting for more than four weeks;
- Those suffering from chronic pain after an unsuccessful back surgery that has lasted for more than six months;
- Those suffering from chronic pain from degenerative discs, with pain lasting for at least four weeks;
- Those suffering from nerve compression or lumbar disorders;
- Those suffering from sciatic neuralgia or an injury to the lumbar nerve root;
- Those suffering from spinal arthritis or degenerative joint disease;
- Those suffering from myofasctois syndrome or disuse atrophy;
- Those who are considering surgery after conventional therapy has failed.
Those patients with the following conditions should typically refrain from spinal decompression therapy:
- Aortic aneurysm
- Cauda Equina syndrome
- Compression fracture of lumbar spine below L-1, Pars defect
- Disc space infections
- Hemiplegia, paraplegia, or cognitive dysfunction
- Infection, osteomyelitis, meningitis, virus, and/or HNP (sequestered/free floating fragment)
- Metastatic cancer
- Multiple myeloma, or osteosarcoma
- Osteod Osteoma
- Pelvic / Abdominal cancer
- Prior lumbar surgical fusion
- Severe osteoporosis
- Severe peripheral neuropathy
Nearly ninety percent of eligible patients who follow the treatment protocol as prescribed will achieve good results or above. In some cases, patients will require concurrent treatments to help reduce pain symptoms, such as weight loss and nutrition counseling, regular exercise, and other lifestyle adjustments. In some cases, patients who don’t respond quickly to decompression therapy will respond slowly to other treatments as well.
The most common sign of a herniated disc is moderate to severe pain in the lower back and buttocks area. Widespread numbness or the loss of feeling are also symptoms and are indicators that you should seek out immediate medical treatment. If you feel pain when you sneeze or cough, leg pain or tingling, or increased pain when you move or bend forward, then these are also indications that you may have a herniated disc.
Spinal decompression therapy is a relatively new treatment. Despite its documented success, as with Lasik eye surgery and gastric bypass surgery, insurance companies are often slow to accept new treatments even when they have a proven track record. With that being said, some insurance companies have already recognized the efficacy of decompression therapy and have begun to cover it, as have some worker compensation programs.
The Z-grav table claims to work based on principles of zero gravity, though there is no evidence supporting its effectiveness. The DRX 9000 holds more patents and is more widely acknowledged as a successful treatment technology.
The Chattanooga DTS system is a much cheaper table, and likely not as effective. Compared with the DRX, which costs nearly 100,000 dollars, the Chattanooga table is only 8,000 dollars. This may be a case of you get what you pay for.
An MRI is not required, although it is recommended, as it is the best way to pinpoint the source of your back pain.
Not all back pain can be treated with the DRX9000 method of spinal decompression therapy, but clinical results indicate a high frequency of success. If you are interested in enjoying a pain-free life, contact us today to learn more about how spinal decompression might be right for you.