|Not too long ago, if a person had advanced spinal degenerative disease or a moderate to severe bulging or herniated spinal disc, invasive spine surgery was seen as the only solution.
Although chiropractic care and physical therapy offered hope for many mild to moderate cases of disc bulging, many cases were seen as too far progressed to respond to conservative measures.
About a year ago, I installed some new equipment in my office that represents a revolutionary new form of treatment.
The device is a spinal disc decompression table.
The purpose of the device is to separate the bones of the spine after injury or degeneration have caused nerve root compression.
The reason this treatment is so important is because it treats something that is likely to affect most of us at some time.
Spinal disc compression can occur after an injury, as a result of spinal deterioration, or as a part of normal aging.
Although this is an over-simplification, in a way, the spinal discs act as spacers, or shock absorbers between the spinal bones.
When the discs become injured or dehydrated due to degeneration, the bones are no longer spaced so far apart.
This allows the bones to gradually close together, possibly to the point that the delicate spinal nerves are compressed.
This is one of the conditions that can lead to the need for spinal surgery if not treated properly.
Spinal surgery to repair this condition is not a simple procedure.
In many cases, it may be necessary for the surgeon to cut through healthy muscle and connective tissue, surgically remove parts of two or more spinal bones, implant metal plates and screws, and inject cadaver bone paste to help the surgically altered bones fuse together.
While most surgeries of this type are generally successful in relieving the nerve pressure, the surgical process unfortunately creates greater risk of serious complications as well as increases the likelihood that adjacent areas of the spine will degenerate more quickly.
For example, it is not uncommon for the disc at the next level up from the surgical site to suffer damage from the increased biomechanical stress that occurs after the lower level is fused.
For many years, if a person had a bulging or herniated disc that did not respond to more conservative care such as chiropractic or physical therapy, surgery was the only option left.
That is the reason that the new treatment known as non-surgical spinal decompression has been such an innovative benefit for many patients with spinal disc conditions.
The device has been under development for about 15 years.
There were several manufacturers involved with early prototypes of spinal disc decompression.
Some devices were modeled after the old-fashioned spinal traction machines.
There have been devices that applied motorized traction to the spine for decades. I used to have this type of equipment in my old location.
The problem with older spinal traction machines was the device pulled against the muscles of the back.
As the traction force increased, the muscles fought harder, resisting the pull.
The result was that the muscles were stretched, but not the spinal joints.
With the advent of newer technology, devices were invented with computer sensors to monitor muscle resistance.
Instead of fighting against the muscles of the back, the newest generation of the spinal disc decompression senses the muscle activity and adjusts the separation forces accordingly.
In fact, the newest generation of the equipment we had installed in our clinic is so smooth that I actually fell asleep on the table during a trial treatment.
Instead of the old-fashioned tug-of-war between the decades-old traction machine and the back muscles, the experience is a soothing, comfortable therapy.
Non-surgical spinal disc decompression therapy is offered at various medical spine clinics around the world.
However, there is a wide range of equipment that has been labeled as spinal decompression. Some technologies are more advanced than others.
When I was researching the various manufacturers prior to outfitting our new spinal decompression therapy suite, I was surprised at the variety of different technologies involved with the competing devices.
It took quite a bit of research and some travel to determine what equipment was the best for the needs of our patients.
Although I expected positive outcomes based upon my research of this new treatment technology, I have been pleased to see results exceeded my expectations.
And remember, not every patient is a candidate for this new form of treatment.
But many patients have found that in a way, the non-surgical spinal disc decompression therapy helps to turn back the hands of time. For those who have been able to avoid or postpone spinal surgery, the new technology is especially welcome.