As two of the top physical complaints among men and women alike, chronic back and neck pain are remarkably common. In fact, as many as four in five adults experience spine-related back or neck pain at some point in their lives.
Besides leaving you in a perpetual state of discomfort that restricts your mobility and erodes your quality of life, ongoing back or neck pain can mean repeated trips to the doctor and more missed workdays than you’d like.
As a physical medicine expert who specializes in injury and chronic pain rehabilitation at Santa Cruz Osteopathic, Richard Bernstein, DO, understands that while back and neck pain can be persistent, they’re also highly treatable.
Here’s how spinal decompression therapy can help restore health to your neck and lower back.
A leading cause of chronic pain
While back and neck pain can result from a problem with any of the structures in or around your spine — including muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons — most cases of chronic back and neck pain stem from a problem with an intervertebral disc.
Also known as spinal discs, these flat, rubbery pads separate your vertebrae and act as shock absorbers. When a disc in your neck or lower back shifts out of place (bulging disc), ruptures (herniated disc), or breaks down (degenerative disc disease) it can affect the alignment of your spine and irritate nearby nerves.
Spinal decompression explained
Spinal decompression is a gentle, noninvasive form of traction therapy that slowly and steadily stretches your spinal column in an effort to relieve disc-related pressure and pain and promote healing.
Done on a motorized table with the aid of advanced computer technology, this highly effective treatment alternately stretches and releases your spine in a controlled back-and-forth process that eases pressure on the problematic disc and creates negative pressure within the disc itself.
This negative “vacuum” pressure helps draw bulging discs back into place, and it also prompts an influx of nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to the area to support tissue regeneration and healing.
A gentle, gradual treatment process
To treat a disc problem in your lower back, you lie on the table and Dr. Bernstein fits a harness around your hips. The other end of the harness is attached to the lower end of the table. When activated, the lower portion of the table slides gently back and forth, alternately stretching and releasing your spine.
To treat a disc problem in your neck, you sit on the table in a reclined position and wear a soft, padded harness on your neck.
Dr. Bernstein programs the computer with your personal treatment protocol. This involves the precise application of pull force offset by cycles of rest that are most effective for you based on the nature of your spinal condition and your level of sensitivity.
During an average spinal decompression session, the traction table stretches the affected area for about one minute. This gentle stretch is followed by a gradual reduction in tension for about another minute until your spine is fully relaxed.
The invigorating sequence is repeated for about half an hour, and you should feel comfortable and relaxed from start to finish. Although you can expect to experience pain relief after just one session, most people need a series of treatments to achieve lasting relief and optimal healing.
An effective, noninvasive solution
By creating the conditions that a problematic disc needs to heal and function normally, the decompression process supports proper spinal alignment. And when your spine is in alignment and its motion-facilitating discs are healthy, your entire body benefits.
With great success, Dr. Bernstein has used the therapy to treat:
- Chronic back pain
- Persistent sciatica
- Chronic neck pain
- Whiplash injuries
- Lumbar facet syndrome
- Compressed nerves
Although spinal decompression therapy is an excellent noninvasive solution for most people, it may not be a viable option for you if you have spinal fractures or you’re pregnant.
Comprehensive care for your spine
When it comes to restoring optimal spinal health and putting an end to chronic back and neck pain, a comprehensive approach is often the best approach. While spinal decompression can work wonders on its own, its effects can be greatly enhanced by physical therapy, osteopathic manual medicine, and even regenerative medicine.
To learn more about nonsurgical spine care at Santa Cruz Osteopathic in Capitola, California, call 831-316-1493 today. You can also use the easy online tool to book an appointment with Dr. Bernstein any time.