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Does Spinal Decompression Hurt? Chiropractor Explains

If you are considering spinal decompression therapy, you may wonder why it hurts. The answer is quite surprising! Spinal decompression does not hurt; it is relaxing and soothing for your target muscles. So why do people often report feeling pain during spinal decompression? Keep reading to find out!

Why Does Spinal Decompression Hurt?

Non-surgical spinal decompression does not hurt one bit. If it hurts, your therapist is doing it wrong. It should be relaxing and comfortable as the traction table releases pressure on the spine.

So, if spinal decompression doesn’t hurt, why do so many people ask this question? Well – either the pressure being applied is too much but soon, or the belts have been strapped on incorrectly – in an uncomfortable way, or they are confusing ‘non-surgical spinal decompression’ with ‘surgical spinal decompression – which is painful and involves a severe operation.

What is spinal decompression, and how does it work?

Spinal decompression is typically used for herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and sciatica. Spinal decompression relieves pressure on the spine by gently stretching the spinal column. This helps promote healing (bringing hydration and nutrients to the joints and discs) and relieves pain, tingling, and numbness. Spinal decompression therapy is usually performed using a machine that slowly and gradually pulls or applies traction to the spine – as the name suggests, ‘decompressing the spine.’

The patient is strapped into the machine, and the treatment table gradually lengthens, stretching the spine. The decompression table can release pressure on the low back, neck, hip, knee, or ankle. Spinal decompression sessions typically last around 15 minutes. Most patients must undergo several sessions before seeing significant results as it takes a little time for the discs and nerves to respond and adapt to this new normal.

The Benefits Of Spinal Decompression

spinal decompression can offer many benefits for those suffering from back pain. By gently stretching the spine, spinal decompression can help to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and discs. This can lead to reduced pain and increased mobility.

In addition, spinal decompression can help to improve circulation and promote the healing of damaged tissue. For these reasons, spinal decompression is often used as a treatment for herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and other conditions that cause back pain. Spinal decompression can effectively manage chronic back or neck pain when combined with other therapies, such as laser or physical therapy.

  • Hydrates the joints and discs of the spine.
  • Increases discs height and joint space – relieving trapped nerves.
  • Reduces pain.
  • Increases mobility.
  • Reduces herniated disc size.
  • Promotes long-term joint health.
  • It does not hurt.
  • It is relaxing and comfortable.
  • It gives you time to do nothing else – simply lie back and relax.
  • It helps treat headaches.
  • It helps relieves stiffness in the neck and base of the skill.
  • There is no downtime afterward.
  • There is no lengthy recovery time.
  • There are no wounds that need dressing or that could cause infection.

A randomized clinical trial published in March 2022 found that non-surgical spinal decompression with physical therapy yielded better quality of life and functional disability results than physical therapy alone. The participants received non-spinal decompression three times per week for four weeks, receiving 12 treatment sessions. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35296293/

The risks of spinal decompression

A few risks associated with spinal decompression should be considered before booking a course. For example, it is not recommended for those with previous spinal surgery in which a fusion has been performed, or metal has been placed into the spine.

How to know if spinal decompression is correct for you

If you are experiencing low back or neck pain, non-surgical decompression may be a promising treatment option. Additionally, if you are experiencing hip, knee, or ankle pain, non-surgical decompression may be a good adjunct treatment for you. Non-surgical decompression is pain-free and invasion-free, making it an excellent choice for those who want to avoid surgery.

We see a lot of clients who have tried everything and are so tired of being in pain, have been recommended surgery, and are about to throw in the towel and go down the surgical route if it relieves their pain. They find us and give it a try – as a last resort, and find they are so glad they did not go down the surgical route. There is a lot we do if, if we work with the body.

What to expect during a spinal decompression treatment session

Considering decompression therapy as a treatment option for your pain, it is essential to understand what to expect during a session.

Non-surgical decompression is a safe and pain-free treatment that is effective for many people with low back or neck pain. It may also be helpful for those with hip, knee, or ankle pain.

During a session, you will lie on a specially designed table that slowly and gently stretches your spine. This gentle stretching can help to relieve pressure on the discs and nerves, which may be causing your pain.

Treating The Low Back

When targeting the low back, for example, when treating an L4-L5 herniated discs, two straps are wrapped around the client, one at the specific level of the low back and one around the thorax, to fixate the mid-back. So, the area you want to be stretched is in between the two straps.

Treating The Neck

When treating the neck with spinal decompression – we use the same table, but instead of straps around the mid and low back, your head and neck are cradled in a head and neck mound, and a strap is placed comfortably around the forehead.

How long does the average treatment last

The average session lasts 10 to 15 minutes. As the aforementioned study mentioned, we recommend three weekly sessions for four weeks. We also combine this with instinct core strengthening, laser therapy, or shock wave therapy. So, their treatment session maybe 25 to 30 minutes.

How Can Spinal Decompression Relieve Joint Pain?

Much like it relieves back or neck pain, non-surgical spinal decompression can relieve hip, knee, or ankle pain by relieving pressure on the joint, causing an influx of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients, and flushing out inflammatory cells, and metabolic toxins.

How To Book A Course Of Spinal Decompression

If you have any questions or would like to book a spinal decompression session, please call us at 01-254-4800 or email us at hello@dublin-chiropractic.com.

Thank you for reading! We hope this has helped answer your question: “Why does spinal decompression hurt?” The answer is – it doesn’t – it’s pain-free.

Book Your Spinal Decompression Consultation Today!

For more information or to book your appointment, call us at (01) 254 8300 or click fill out the form below.


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