Monday, July 9, 2012


Decompression is the opposite of compression.  Bulging discs, arthritis, inflamed or thickened ligaments, or combinations of these entities can compress nerve tissue causing pain in the lower back.

There are multiple ways of decompressing, or relieving this compressive force.  The most commonly known way is surgical, either non-invasive or micro-discectomy, or laminectomy.  Since only 3% of herniated discs and a slightly larger percentage of stenotic spines benefit from surgery, non-surgical methods of decompression have been tried.

Most of the non-surgical forms of decompression involved traction (stretching) of the spine.  An attempt is made, either by hanging upside down or right side up, or by supine traction, to stretch the spine.  The theoretical goal is to increase the distance between the lumbar (lower back) vertebrae.  This would (again, theoretically) cause the protruding disc or nucleus propulsus to be sucked back into the annulus and to increase the flow of nutrition to the nucleus and annulus to promote healing.

Unfortunately, none of this has been proven to happen, or to be effective.  Long term, studies suggest that the pain relief achieved is no better than physical therapy in general.

Vax-D, Inversion Therapy, Antalgic-trak, IDD, or traction by any other name can be expensive, and not very helpful.  Save your money.

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