If you have ever visited a chiropractic office, you may have seen tables with straps on them. They may have looked strange, but these devices are actually used for spinal decompression. This therapeutic technique is a valuable and effective treatment modality that can help with a number of problems. Best of all, spinal decompression is safe and all natural.

Decompression Methods

Chiropractic spinal decompression is typically done via a specialized table. The table has loose restraints to hold your body in position and is then either inverted at a sharp angle or your body is gently stretched while lying flat.

While it may sound painful, spinal decompression is actually quite gentle and most patients report no pain. If the inversion method is used, gravity naturally decompresses your spine over time. Treatment sessions generally last from 30 to 60 minutes and several sessions may be needed before you notice an improvement in your symptoms.

With the stretching method, your spine is carefully pulled so that collapsed disc spaces are gently opened. Once again, multiple sessions are usually necessary for a meaningful improvement.

Impinged Nerves

Almost all nerves in the human body travel from the brain through the spine. When the vertebral discs of the spine collapse or bulge, this can entrap the nerves, causing severe pain and limited mobility. This is referred to as a pinched nerve, or impingement.

While chiropractic adjustments can often release pinched nerves, spinal decompression using one of the methods above is sometimes necessary. This is particularly true if the pinched nerve is in the cervical, or neck, region. Over time, decompression will ease the pressure on the nerve and usually results in restored mobility and pain relief.

Loss of Disc Height

Gravity is a constant degenerative force working on our bodies. Over time, the vertebral discs can compress and collapse onto each other, just from the daily strain of standing upright. This is known as loss of disc height and is more common in people with osteopenia or osteoporosis of the spine. These are conditions in which the bones become weak due to mineral loss. They are seen more often in older women, but can affect people of any gender and age.

All too often, the end result of disc height loss is compression fracture. This is when the vertebrae break from the constant degenerative work of gravity over the years. It’s a similar principle to a stress fracture in your leg.

Spinal decompression can slow disc height loss and help prevent compression fractures. After a physical exam and evaluation, usually including x-rays, a chiropractor can tell if spinal decompression is right for you. In combination with traditional chiropractic therapies, such as adjustments, decompression not only helps to prevent further damage, but can relieve pain symptoms.

So when you next visit your chiropractor, don’t be surprised if they recommend spinal decompression therapy. It is an effective tool that carries few risks, is completely non-invasive, and is used by thousands of chiropractors and physical therapists.