Lumbar Decompression

Spinal Health and Decompression:

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy is based on the following principles:



•Decompression works by slowly lengthening the spine. By separating the spinal vertebrae it produces a negative pressure within the disc (structure between the vertebrae).



•This negative pressure creates a vacuum effect within the disc that reduces ("sucks in") the size of the herniation or bulge, which then takes pressure off the involved nerve root.



•The pulling and releasing motions of the decompression machine creates a pumping mechanism called, "imbibition". This promotes the diffusion of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids from the outside of the discs to the inside. These nutrients enable the torn and degenerated disc fibers to begin to heal.

For the lower back, patients are fitted with a pelvic harness that wraps around their waist and a thoracic harness that wraps their torso. They then lie face up on a computer controlled table. For the neck, patients lay face-up with their head cradled in a comfortable rubber head piece. The doctor, therapist or technician operates the table from a computerized console, where a customized treatment protocol is entered. Patients relax by listening to music or watching television during their treatment.



The average treatment protocol is approximately 20 to 30 treatments within a six to eight week period of time, depending on the individual's case. Each treatment takes about 20-30 minutes.

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy can be a very effective treatment for bulging discs, herniated discs, pinched nerves, sciatica, radiating arm or leg pain, degenerative disc disease, and facet syndromes.

Proper patient screening is imperative and only the best candidates are accepted for care. A detailed history, thorough examination, weight bearing x-rays and MRI’s are needed.



This therapy offers to treat the root cause of the disease or pathology based on the anatomical and physiological principles of Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression. Spinal Decompression Therapy relieves pressure from the disc, which, in turn, relieves pressure from the associated nerve.



According to the FDA 510k papers, the definition of decompression is "unloading due to distraction and positioning", and additionally, "unweighting due to distraction and positioning". This is important because the "unloading" of the injured area creates positive changes in the microcirculation of the disc and nerve roots.



If you would like to learn more about the spinal decompression therapy or simply want to find out if you are candidate for spinal decompression therapy, please call our office at 425-643-4454 to schedule *FREE CONSULTATION with the doctor. (*PI & Workcomp patients are excluded)

Theory of Spinal Decompression

Spinal decompression devices use the same basic principle of spinal traction that has been offered by chiropractors, osteopaths, and other appropriately trained health professionals for many years.

Both traction and decompression therapy are applied with the goals of relieving pain and promoting an optimal healing environment for bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs.

Spinal decompression is a type of traction therapy applied to the spine in an attempt to bring about several theoretical benefits including:

  • Create a negative intradiscal pressure to promote retraction or repositioning of the herniated or bulging disc material.
  • Create a lower pressure in the disc that will cause an influx of healing nutrients and other substances into the disc.

Clinical Evidence

While the fundamental theory of spinal decompression is widely accepted as valid, there is a lack of evidence supporting decompression therapy as being efficacious. Additionally there are some potential risks.

Although some studies that do not include control groups conclude that decompression therapy is efficacious, the few that do generally conclude that mechanized spinal decompression is no better than sham decompression. [Schimmel JJ, et al. European Spine Journal 18(12):1843-50, 2009] Thus, there is insufficient evidence that spinal decompression therapy is as effective, or more effective, than less expensive manual methods in treating back pain or injured herniated discs.

Cervical Decompression

Manipulation of the cervical spine or neck region is a common technique utilized by doctors of chiropractic for many patients complaining of neck, upper back, and shoulder/arm pain, as well as headaches. Similar to the treatment for many conditions affecting the low back, chiropractic is considered as a first line of treatment for a range of cervical spine conditions.

The chiropractic treatment goals for cervical spine complaint management include (but are not limited to) some combination of:

  • Reducing pain
  • Improving motion
  • Restoring function to the head and neck region

These goals are usually accomplished by the use of a number of different approaches. The primary focus of this article is on chiropractic manipulation.

Patients should be advised that the application of this treatment approach only occurs after a full patient history, physical examination, review of past, family, social histories, and review of systems have been completed. Tests resulting from this process may include X-ray, CT, MRI, EMG/NCV, laboratory blood and urine analysis, referral to a specialist, and/or possibly more, depending on each individual case presentation.

Types of Chiropractic Manipulation

There are two general chiropractic manipulation approaches for cervical spine complaints:

The combination of the various approaches varies from patient to patient depending on the chiropractor's preferred techniques and preferences, the patient's comfort and preferences, and the patient's response to the treatment, as well as both past experience and observations made during the course of treatment.

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