Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression

What Is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression?

The spine provides support to the body, which is why the spine is prone to pressurized buildup. Non-surgical spinal decompression is a popular treatment for disc herniation, disc bulge, spinal degeneration, or nerve damage. Motorized traction is used to gently stretch the spine, providing pain relief to tense regions. Like with non-surgical knee decompression, the separation releases any pressure, including a buildup of fluid. 



Spinal decompression therapy that decreases muscle guarding and dramatically improves patient outcomes.

All About the Spinal Decompression Table

When something's wrong in the human body, there's not always a quick fix. Many people suffer from back pain - in fact, 31 million Americans are experiencing pain in their lower back at any given time. But when they seek treatment, they often find temporary relief from symptoms when what they want is long-term healing.

Patients who suffer from the chronic pain associated with bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs may benefit from treatment using a spinal decompression table. This type of pain, which can manifest as back or neck pain itself as well as associated pain in the arms and legs, may have already been treated by traditional traction methods or even by spinal surgery to limited improvement. In these cases, a spinal decompression table that uses computerized sensors to perform stretching actions on the spine and promote healing can be uniquely effective.

But what is a spinal decompression table, and how can it be used to treat patients who have not been able to find relief in other ways?

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal decompression therapy, also known as non-surgical spinal decompression, is a practice that utilizes spinal decompression tables to relieve pain by creating a scenario in which painful disc tissue is able to move back into place and heal, alleviating the pain this condition causes.

Spinal decompression therapy aims to help patients who suffer from debilitating pain due to bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs. It can also be used for the pain management and treatment of many causes of sciatica, injured or diseased spinal nerve roots, and worn spinal joints. 

The therapy itself works to stretch the spine, using a decompression table or other device, in order to create negative pressure and space for the disc fluid to move back into place. The ultimate goal of spinal decompression is to relieve the patient’s chronic back, arm, neck, and/or leg pain, and to heal the source of said pain.

Spinal decompression therapy is also referred to as non-surgical decompression therapy, since it is often used as a safe, affordable, and extremely effective alternative to spinal surgery. The distinction between surgical and non-surgical spinal decompression is an important one, as surgical spinal procedures are often considered a last option, while spinal decompression therapy is a safe treatment at any stage of back pain. The most common spinal decompression surgeries are laminectomy and microdiscectomy, which present a greater risk of complication or failure. 

What is a Spinal Decompression Table? 

A spinal decompression table is the main tool used in non-surgical spinal decompression therapy. There are two main types of spinal decompression tables: one with cable and pulley systems that create pull on the patient's body, and decompression tables that consist of an upper and lower body portion that move independently from one another. The latter type of table is much more effective at preventing muscle guarding, and is what we recommend for the best possible patient outcomes.


Patients are strapped to the table using a harness, with other props such as pillows used to keep the patient comfortable and the spine in the correct position for decompression. Once the patient is in place, the table program is enacted and the two parts of the table begin to pull apart from one another. The poundage of the pull depends on the type of decompression as well as the physicality of the patient and can range anywhere from just 5 pounds for a cervical decompression protocol to 100 pounds or more for lumbar decompression on a larger patient.

The difference between spinal decompression tables and other methods of decompression like inversion is the technology involved. The best spinal decompression tables include sensors that indicate whether a patient’s muscles are resisting the stretch being applied by the table. As the muscles resist, the table reduces the poundage of the pull until the muscles relax, then begins to pull again. By taking resistance into account, a decompression table is able to more effectively relieve pressure in the spine and ultimately provide relief.

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Spinal Decompression: Questions and Answers

What can spinal decompression treat?

Your doctor will discuss your specific case with you to determine if you are a candidate for spinal decompression. Patients with herniated discs, ruptured discs, bulging discs, degenerated discs, sciatica, spinal stenosis, arthrosis, and joint facet syndrome are spinal decompression candidates. Even people with certain failed back surgeries can be treated.

What kinds of conditions are not treatable or contraindicated?

• Pregnancy

• Metastasized cancer

• Spinal fusion

• Broken vertebrae (fracture)

• Patients with artificial discs or other spinal implant

• Osteoporosis

• Spinal tumor

• Osteomalacia

• Myelitis

• Anklyosing spondylitis

• Unstable spondylolisthesis with pars defects

• Post-surgical conditions where metal implants (rods, cages, or screws) have been used

What is the success rate for spinal decompression?

85% of patients report favorable results. Preferred Chiropractic & Wellness | Preferred Regen ATL only treats patients who are good candidates for spinal decompression therapy.

How long does a chiropractic appointment with spinal decompression treatment take?

A full treatment with pre-therapies, spinal decompression therapy, and alignment, followed by postural exercises is approximately 45 mins to 1 hour.

How many spinal decompression treatments are needed?

Typically low back pain requires 24-30 visits but each case varies. Some patients need more and some need less. A cervical or neck condition can take between 20-24 visits. Often spinal decompression is given 3-4 days a week during the initial stages of care.

Do I get permanent relief from spinal decompression?

Spinal decompression usually provides long-lasting relief but it’s a good idea to get checked and decompressed at least 1 time every 4-6 weeks to maintain the correction after your initial intensive care is complete.

Are there any side effects to the treatment?

Most patients do not experience any side effects. Though, there have been some mild cases of muscle spasm for a short period of time.

How does spinal decompression separate each vertebra and allow for decompression at a specific level?

Spinal decompression tables use computerized technology to create negative intradiscal pressure in the spine. A decompression table has two parts which move independently of one another. During setup, a spinal decompression technician chooses a decompression program that is best suited to the patient’s needs. The right program for an individual will depend on that person’s diagnosis as well as how they have responded to previous treatments.

As the decompression table stretches the spine, negative pressure is created within the spinal discs, which can result in the retraction or repositioning of the disc material, leading to pain relief. In addition, the lower pressure within the disc can cause an influx of healing nutrients to the disc, to promote further relief even when the patient is not on the table.

One of the hurdles to effective decompression with manual techniques is the fact that the body naturally resists the stretch, known as muscle guarding. With a decompression table, sensors can detect when the patient’s muscles are guarding against the stretch and release the tension, ensuring that the maximum decompression is accomplished. 

Is there any risk to the patient during spinal decompression?

There are no risks associated with spinal decompression. It is totally safe and comfortable for all subjects. The system has emergency stop switches for both the patient and the operator. These switches (a requirement of the FDA) terminate the treatment immediately thereby avoiding any injuries.

Can I work after getting spinal decompression therapy?

Most patients work even after receiving spinal decompression treatments. If your job involves physical labor/activities, we may recommend you wear a brace and/or limit activities of bending, twisting and lifting for 6 hours post treatment.

Does insurance pay for spinal decompression?

Before your treatment begins, our staff will check if your health insurance will contribute to your chiropractic and pre and post therapy care. However, insurance unfortunately does not cover spinal decompression therapy.

I had back surgery which didn’t give me pain relief, so now can I have spinal decompression?

Patients treated with back surgery can usually have spinal decompression providing you do not have metal implants and it has been at least 6 + months since surgery. Spinal Decompression may help to avoid additional surgery.

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