Denver Patients Ask: Does Spinal Decompression Hurt?

Many patients often wonder, “Does spinal decompression hurt?” While it can feel uncomfortable, it shouldn’t cause pain

Spinal decompression is a traditional chiropractic therapy that is used to treat herniated discs in the lumbar spine, which are usually a sign of loss of normal curvature. Many chiropractic offices use this stretching method to treat chronic back pain, but patients facing multiple rounds of costly therapy often wonder, “Does spinal decompression hurt?” When done correctly, spinal decompression does not cause pain. However, is it truly helpful? 

In this article, we’ll discuss what to expect from traditional methods of spinal decompression and if they are the right option for you.  

What Is Spinal Decompression?

Non-surgical spinal decompression is a non-invasive option for patients suffering from back pain or herniated, bulging, or degenerating discs. The patient lies fully clothed on a motorized computer-controlled table in which the bottom half moves while the top half remains stationary. A harness is attached to the lower part of the table and placed around your hips by your doctor. An upper body harness will also be fitted to your body and attached to the table’s top half. The goal of this therapy is to relieve abnormal pressure on the discs in your spinal column by applying a slow, steady, and gentle elongation stretch. The stretching action creates a negative pressure inside your discs, which may cause them to retract, and flattens the natural curve of the spine, the lumbar lordosis. These sessions typically last between 30-45 minutes and usually involve anywhere from 15-30 separate treatments.

An MRI displaying a lumbar spine showing ruptured intervertebral disc herniation at the L4/5 level, requiring spinal decompression therapy.

Does Spinal Decompression Hurt?

Spinal decompression often feels really good; however, it sometimes can feel uncomfortable, but it should never hurt. Pain is often a warning sign that the treatment isn’t being performed correctly. However, remodeling the shape of the spine isn’t something that can be accomplished without some degree of discomfort. Similar to stretching for increased flexibility, the only way to deepen a stretch is to stretch to a point that’s slightly uncomfortable, allow the muscles to relax, and then stretch further. Doing this daily will eventually get you to the level of flexibility you want—and it’s the basis behind multiple spinal decompression sessions.  

Is Spinal Decompression Helpful?

Much like most traditional chiropractic treatment methods, the general method for spinal decompression can provide immediate relief for pain symptoms. However, that relief is only temporary, and multiple sessions can be detrimental in the long run because they can reduce the normal curvature of the spine. This excessive flattening and straightening of the spine will ultimately have the opposite of the intended effect and can worsen disc symptoms instead by placing more pressure onto the disc when the natural curvature is disrupted. So, while it can be used initially to relieve immediate symptoms, the traditional method for spinal decompression is detrimental to your spinal alignment the more often it is performed.  

Is There a Better Solution? Yes.

At PostureWorks, we don’t believe in simply managing pain using traditional tactics—we work to fix the problem and remove pain from the equation. This is why we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® as the foundation of every patient’s treatment plan. Using spinal traction specific to each individual’s alignment, we will work to restore lumbar curvature. By stretching your spinal curvature back into its original shape, you will restore balance to your spine and permanently take pressure off the injured disc, creating a stronger and healthier back. Spinal traction, along with postural exercises and neuro-muscular re-education, is proven to correct spinal curvature and regain optimal spinal alignment. Because no one treatment fits everyone, we analyze your spinal alignment and posture through biometric readings to determine the best course of treatment for you.  

While traditional spinal decompression is one of the most commonly applied methods, that doesn’t mean it’s the best. Be sure to ask your chiropractor if it’s the right treatment plan for you. Don’t just settle for pain relief. Allow PostureWorks to introduce a solution that treats the root of the problem to work towards eliminating the pain for good.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. To find out more about how chiropractic care and yoga can work together, contact us today to schedule an examination and take the first step toward a pain-free life.

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  • Lakewood, Colorado

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