Spinal decompression therapy is a non surgical treatment for low-back pain and pain in the leg, neck or arm that works by reducing loading of the spine. Researchers note that many adults suffer from excessive spinal loading, which is problematic because it promotes premature degeneration of intervertebral discs and leads to a tendency for repeated injury of the disc annulus.
Giving encouragement to the proponents of spinal decompression therapy are numerous clinical studies demonstrating that the therapy does indeed cause disc space to decompress, generally by producing and sustaining negative intradiscal pressure. One such study looking at patients with herniated and degenerative disc disease found that 86% of 219 subjects who completed decompression therapy reported immediate disappearance of symptoms, while 84% of the total remained pain-free for 3 months afterward; 92% of the cohort showed varying degrees of physical improvement. Most symptoms continued to remain reduced for the vast majority of them 90 days after treatment.
Naturally, spinal decompression therapy is not for everybody. Conditions helped by it are largely confined to sciatica, disc hernia, disc protrusion, spinal stenosis, and radiculopathy. Still, that doesn’t stop doctors (and payors) from wishing it could be for everybody: spinal decompression therapy is economical, with costs only about 10% those of lumbar surgery.