Spinal Decompression


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal decompression therapy is a non-surgical traction based treatment outcome for herniated or bulging discs in the neck and lower back. Anyone who has back, neck, arm or leg pain may be helped by spinal decompression therapy.  During this procedure, by cycling through distraction and relaxation phases and proper positioning, a spinal disc may be isolated and placed under lowered pressure - causing a vacuum effect.

What is the vacuum effect?

The vacuum effect accomplishes two things.  From a mechanical standpoint, disc material that has protruded or herniated outside the normal confines of the disc may be pulled back within the disc by the vacuum created within the disc.  Also, the vacuum within the disc stimulates growth of blood supply, secondarily stimulating a healing response.  This results in pain reduction and proper healing at the injured site.

Who can benefit from spinal decompression therapy?

Anyone who has back or neck pain caused in whole or in part by a damaged disc may be helped by spinal decompression therapy.  These conditions include herniated, protruding or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica or even failed surgery.

What type of decompression system is used and is the doctor certified in spinal decompression therapy?

After a significant amount of research, our office chose the Neural-Flex by Kennedy Decompression System, the premier manufacturer of physical medicine equipment.  Most importantly, we have the brand new computerized head which is the most sophisticated and technologically advanced unit in the world.  

In regards to his clinical skills, Dr. Johnson completed the Kennedy Decompression Technique course work and passed the qualifying examination to achieve the status of "Certified Practitioner" in spinal decompression therapy.

Is Spinal Decompression Therapy different from regular traction?

Dramatically, YES!  The computer on the decompression machine is the key.  Typical forms of traction causes a muscle reaction, allowing them to contract during treatment.  Decompression therapy allows the muscles to actually relax while the traction occurs, which is the key element in allowing discs and facets to heal...something they may never do on their own.  

How many spinal decompression sessions will be needed and are they painful?

The number of sessions needed and your specific treatment plan will be determined by the doctor after your examination.

In almost all cases, the treatments are completely painless. In fact, some patients fall asleep during the spinal decompression session.

Are there medical studies that document the effectiveness of Spinal Decompression Therapy? 

Yes! One study documented by MRI up to 90% reduction of disc herniations in 10 of 14 cases and other studies reported that the majority of ruptured disc patients achieved "good" to "excellent" results after spinal decompression therapy.

Click Here to read an article about spinal decompression that appeared in "To Your Health" Magazine.

Are there conditions where Spinal Decompression Therapy is not indicated?

Spinal decompression therapy is not recommended for pregnant women, patients who have severe osteoporosis, severe obesity or severe nerve damage.

Spinal surgery with instrumentation (screws or metal plates) is also contraindicated. However, spinal decompression therapy after bone fusion or non-fusion surgery, can be performed.

Are the sessions painful, how many will be needed?

In almost all cases, the treatments are completely painless.  In fact, some patients fall asleep during the spinal decompression session.

The specific treatment plan will be determined after your examination.  The best results have been achieved utilizing 20-24 sessions over a 6 to 8 week period.  

Do most patients receive therapy and rehabilitative exercises in addition to Spinal Decompression Therapy?

To reduce inflammation and assist the healing process, supporting structures are treated with passive therapies (ice/heat/muscle stimulation/ultrasound/low level laser), nutritional advice, chiropractic adjustments (as indicated) and/or active rehabilitation in order to strengthen the spinal musculature.

How do I get started?  

We want to make it easy for you to learn if you are a candidate for spinal decompression therapy. Just call our office at 931-489-5979 to arrange a consultation with Dr. Johnson.

Please remember to bring any MRI films and reports so Dr. Johnson can review them and best advise you about your treatment options. However an MRI is NOT absolutely necessary to qualify for treatment.

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