Non-surgical spinal decompression is a therapy used to reduce or eliminate chronic back pain. There are different types of spinal decompression, including traction, vertebral axial decompression, and articulating spinal decompression that includes range-of-motion decompression and kinetic decompression mobilization. Specific machines are used for each type of decompression, so claims of success are often associated with a particular company rather than a type of procedure.
The theory behind spinal disc decompression is that pain occurs when disc injuries compress the nerves in the spinal column and cause inflammation. These injuries could include herniated discs, bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, facet syndrome, spinal stenosis and protruding discs. Non-surgical spinal decompression aims to reduce the internal disc pressure to facilitate the disc’s return to its natural state. Decompression also creates a space between the vertebrae, allowing for an influx of oxygen, fluid and nutrients that can help the disc heal.
Traction is the original method of non-surgical spinal decompression. Traction uses a steady linear pulling force to decompress the vertebrae. A common example is hanging upside to reverse the effects of gravity by pulling the vertebrae in the opposite direction. This method can provide short-lived relief, but then the body’s defensive reaction to the pulling is to contract or constrict, ultimately increasing disc pressure over time.