Decompression Traction Therapy

Decompression Traction Therapies are types of therapies that utilize motorized and manual traction and decompression methods to relieve back and neck pain.  At  Trauma Associates of Florida, we use both methods to treat our patients.  Decompression works by gently stretching the spine to relieve pressure off of compressed or misaligned disks.

We use spinal traction and decompression to treat:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Sciatica
  • Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
  • Worn spinal joints (called posterior facet syndrome)
  • Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots
  • Headaches

Spinal decompression is a precocious form of spinal traction used in the treatment of disc-related back pain and related conditions such as sciatica. The particular difference between true spinal decompression machines is that spinal decompression machines are set up to “trick” the spinal muscles into staying relaxed during treatment, allowing for greater changes in disc pressure than with regular traction, which has to fight the resistance of the muscles. As someone who antecedent used regular traction with my patients, I can attest to the fact that true decompression systems provide dramatically better results overall. Sciatica treatment provides excellent results for many people, but some fail to get any improvement at all, and others may even feel worse.

While there are case reports that indicate complete disc injuries can be treated with spinal decompression, in my experience, people with actual disc ruptures tend to not do very well with this form of sciatica treatment. It should be noted that even doctors sometimes incorrectly call a disc bulge or herniation a rupture. True disc ruptures (also called extrusions and sequestered discs), in which the inner gel of the disc is actually leaking out, are relatively rare, so it is good to find out for sure what your actual condition is. The simplest way to do this is to read the radiologists report of the patient’s MRI or CT scan. If you see terms like “extrusion” or “sequestered fragment”, particularly when used in association with the words “large” or “severe”, the patient may not be an ideal candidate for decompression. This is not to say that decompression can’t help in such cases, but the success rate for full disc ruptures is much lower than the success rate for bulges and herniation.

A full spinal decompression therapy treatment program that includes spinal decompression and other adjudicative sciatica treatments may seem somewhat expensive. In actuality, it is a much lower-cost treatment option than surgery for most people and has a statistically much higher success rate, so it can be a very good value, but nonetheless, some people try to cut down their costs by trying to reduce the amount of sciatica treatment. This can be a big mistake. In my experience, most people who complete the recommended decompression treatment protocol will get lasting relief and can safely return to their normal activities. Those who discontinue care prematurely will often relapse, and may suffer worse sciatic nerve pain and worse damage to the disc because they resume excessively physically demanding activities before the disc has fully healed and stabilized.