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The Decompression Table

What is a decompression table, and why is it used?

Here at MacKenzie SDI, we use a specialized decompression table for our non-surgical spinal decompression therapy sessions. These tables may look scary at first, but they are a safe and pain-free alternative to traditional surgery. Here’s what you need to know about our tables and spinal decompression before starting your physical therapy sessions. 


What Is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Millions of people around the world suffer from chronic back pain. This pain could be from a variety of different conditions like disc bulges, disc herniations, degenerated disc disease, spinal stenosis, or sciatica. For those suffering from these conditions, as well as general chronic lower back pain, spinal decompression therapy may provide relief. 

Spinal decompression is a non-surgical method used to relieve back pain by gently stretching the spine. This technique is performed on a specialized spinal decompression table by trained doctors and chiropractors.

By slowly and gently stretching the patient’s spine, pressure is taking off of the spinal disks (the gel-like cushioning between your vertebrae). This also takes pressure off of the nerves in your spine and promotes movement of water, oxygen, and other nutrients into the discs which promotes healing.

While surgical spinal decompression therapy is an option for those with severe chronic back pain or other spinal injuries, this non-surgical option needs little to no recovery time in between sessions, is pain-free, and often costs much less than surgery. 


Spinal Decompression Machines

It may seem more like a medieval torture device at first glance, but spinal decompression tables are a completely pain-free therapy option. Patients shouldn’t feel any discomfort during or after the decompression session, just a stretch in their spine and perhaps some sore muscles afterwards. 

The actual therapy session is extremely relaxing for the patient. As you lay down on the computer-controlled table, two harnesses are fitted around your pelvis and trunk of your body. The harnesses then slowly and gently pull on your body in opposing directions to create a vacuum of pressure in between your vertebrae. 

The amount of stretch doctor’s put on the spine will depend on factors such as the patient’s weight, condition, severity of pain, and pain location. Depending on the severity of the injured disks, patients may feel slight discomfort—but not pain. In case the treatment does become painful, patients have a safety switch that will immediately turn the machine off. Many patients, however, feel completely at-ease during their session.

Spinal decompression therapy treatments usually take less than an hour to complete. Several treatments are often needed before they start to feel significant pain relief in their back. Around 10-20 treatments are recommended over the course of several weeks, depending on the patient’s needs and pain levels. 


Inversion Tables

Spinal decompression tables should be operated by experienced and licensed physicians only. However, there are still ways for you to relieve your lower back pain in between decompression sessions. 

Another spinal stretching technique that can be done without doctor supervision is inversion therapy. Inversion therapy, also called spinal traction, involves using an inversion table to stretch the spine and relieve pressure. Once you’re strapped into your inversion table or have secured your feet, you then turn yourself upside down. This uses gravitational force to stretch your spinal cord and relieve pressure in between each vertebrae. 

While inversion tables can provide temporary, short-term pain relief, they do not provide long-term relief for chronic back pain sufferers. However, inversion tables can be a great addition to regular decompression therapy, providing at-home pain relief while you are waiting between decompression sessions. Compared to spinal decompression tables—which can cost thousands of dollars and should only be operated by trained professionals—inversion tables are more affordable (around $100-$400) and can be operated on your own.


Are Spinal Decompression Tables Safe?

Yes, non-surgical spinal decompression therapy and our decompression tables are a safe and painless way to ease and treat chronic back pain. However, as with every form of physical therapy, there are risks involved. 

Relieving back pain by stretching the spine may not be the safest or most appropriate therapy option for some patients. Those who shouldn’t use non-surgical spinal decompression therapy include:

  • Patients who are pregnant
  • Patient with a broken vertebrae
  • Patients who have had spinal fusion
  • Patients with an artificial disc or other spinal implants
  • Patients with advanced osteoporosis
  • Patients who have had failed back surgery
  • Patients who are on blood thinner medication
  • patients with spinal stenosis, spinal tumors, or other spinal infections

If you fall in one of these categories, talk with one of MacKenzie SDI’s chiropractors about other pain relief options we have available to treat your chronic back pain.

MacKenzie SDI can determine if you could benefit from using decompression tables and spinal decompression therapy. Our experienced doctors can help alleviate your pain, starting today. Contact our office for a consultation.