If you've had a recent back injury or are suffering from ongoing back pain, there's a chance your doctor may recommend a procedure known as spinal decompression therapy. There are two types of spinal decompression therapy: surgical and nonsurgical. In many instances, nonsurgical therapy is effective at treating spinal injuries and reducing pain/discomfort without the need for invasive procedures.
Still, if you've been scheduled for a nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy session, you might be wondering what to expect. And while your experience may vary slightly from one chiropractor's office to the next, there are some general consistencies you can expect when having this treatment done.
Before Your Appointment
The goal of spinal decompression therapy is to help reduce pressure on the fluid-filled discs that are located in between each of the vertebrae of the spine. This will require a fair amount of stretching and manipulating of your spine, although it should not cause you any pain. Still, your doctor will likely recommend that you drink plenty of fluids in the 24 hours leading up to your appointment; the better hydrated you are, the more prepared your body will be for the subsequent stretching. Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water in the 24 hours leading up to your appointment.
The Appointment Itself
Decompression machines can vary from one chiropractor's office to the next. However, most spinal decompression machines work in essentially the same way. Keeping yourself fully clothed, you will lay down on a board and will be strapped in for your safety. From there, your chiropractor will operate the machine to begin decompression. The traction used during your therapy appointment will be slow, incremental, and gentle--so you shouldn't experience any pain. If you experience any discomfort at all, don't hesitate to speak up to your doctor. In general, you should expect the appointment to last for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Aftercare For Best Results
Some patients notice immediate relief from pain and other symptoms as soon as they step out of the decompression chair, whereas others may need some time to see results. Either way, be sure to follow your chiropractor's aftercare instructions for the best results. For example, you may be instructed to perform some at-home stretches and continue to stay hydrated. You should also plan on a follow-up appointment within a week or two to see if any additional treatments will be needed.
Nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy can be an effective and non-invasive way for you to find some relief from your pain and symptoms. And by knowing what to expect, you can step into your chiropractor's office with a little more confidence!