The Ins And Outs Of Spinal Decompression As An Alternative To Surgery

Throughout the United States, an estimated 31 million people suffer from lower back pain at any given moment. Many of these people may even undergo invasive surgery procedures in order to relieve this pain. Spinal decompression therapy offers an alternative approach that avoids invasive and potentially extensive surgery treatments, especially for those seeking short recovery times. The following explains the potential benefits and pitfalls of this treatment.

How It Works

The idea behind non-surgical spinal decompression therapy is to relieve pain by reducing pressure on the nerves in your back. This is usually done through careful stretching of the vertebra, which allows the joints, bones, and discs in the spine to separate and decompress. This process is carried out on a computer-controlled spinal decompression table, which stretches the vertebra at specific intervals with rest periods added to prevent muscle spasms and increased tension.

Understanding the Benefits

There are several benefits that this form of spinal therapy offers in comparison to other, more-invasive procedures. For starters, a successful treatment usually eliminates the need to undergo expensive surgery. According to Spine-health, a typical laminectomy (a common procedure for relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots) could cost $77,000 for someone without insurance coverage. Non-surgical spinal decompression treatments are usually far cheaper than invasive surgery procedures.

Since there's no need for invasive surgery, those who undergo spinal decompression therapy can expect much shorter recovery times than those who've undergone surgical procedures. There's also no need to undergo bed rest after the surgery. In addition, most patients who undergo spinal decompression therapy do not report any negative side effects.

The procedure itself is also designed to pose as little risk to patients as possible. To this end, there are emergency switches that both patient and doctor can easily access if there's a need to abruptly end the treatment process.

Understanding the Pitfalls

Although spinal decompression therapy is usually less expensive than undergoing invasive surgery, there's still a significant cost involved. According to chiropractic physician Dr. Anthony Abbruzzese, each spinal decompression therapy session can cost anywhere from $100 to $200. Dr. Abbruzzese also notes that it usually takes 20 sessions to get the desired results, making the total cost of treatment anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000.

In addition to the cost of the treatment, there are other potential pitfalls to consider. Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy may not be right for those looking to manage their pain within a short time span, given the number of therapy sessions that are often needed for successful treatment. Those who experience severe pain while driving or riding to their next session may begin to wonder if they should seek surgery instead.

While most patients have had complete success with spinal decompression therapy, there are those who still experience some form of back pain after the last treatment session. There are also those who've experienced mild cases of muscle spasm after the treatment, although this issue is relatively uncommon and only lasts for a short period of time.

Are You An Ideal Candidate?

While most people make good candidates for non-surgical spinal decompression therapy, there are those who may want to consider other options. For instance, those who've experienced advanced osteoporosis or abdominal aortic aneurysm should not undergo this treatment. Those who have metal, plastic, or carbon-fiber implants in their spine should also avoid this treatment. If you've had a spinal fracture or spinal infection or recently had a tumor, you may want to reconsider spinal decompression therapy.

In the end, it's up to you and your doctor to decide whether spinal decompression therapy is an ideal treatment option to pursue. If spinal decompression therapy isn't a good option for you, talk to a back surgeon at a medical center such as Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates to learn about your other options.