Are There Complications with Spinal Decompression?

Are There Complications with Spinal Decompression?

Spinal decompression therapy is a nonsurgical option for treating back pain and other associated conditions. However, it is not for everybody. Ask your doctor whether or not you are a good candidate for spinal decompression because there are certain contraindications. These include pregnancy, fracture, tumor, abdominal aortic aneurysm, advanced osteoporosis, and metal implants in the spine. Anybody with failed back surgery is also not a good candidate.


Some patients with neck and arm pain may experience worsening of their symptoms. Basically, any patient who experiences pain during the spinal decompression procedure or after the procedure should not be continued with this therapy.
Normally, Spinal decompression therapy would be good for early stages of disc or joint degeneration
By far, the most common complication or side effect of spinal decompression therapy is muscle spasms. As this procedure involves motorized stretching, it can overstretch more than the body is accustomed to, which can cause paraspinal muscles to spasm. It is very important to inform your doctor about these immediately so that he/she may adjust or discontinue as needed.

Based on a review of the published data for the use of spinal decompression reveals that it is associated with very little risk. In rare instances, there would be worsening of disc herniation during the procedure causing severe pain.


Some patients have reported that it only works for the short term. In quite a few cases, multiple treatment sessions are required to attain the desired results. Even then, spinal decompression therapy may not be a complete cure for your back pain.


Inversion therapy vs Spinal decompression

Inversion therapy is being used for lower back pain relief, pinched nerves, sciatica, etc. It is a variation of the more involved process of spinal decompression therapy.


Inversion tables use gravity and body weight to help stretch and lengthen the spinal column, which decreases the overall pressure in the spinal discs and can lower back pain. Furthermore, it may improve flexibility and joint movement. Typically, this would be good for early stages of disc or joint degeneration.


Some of the dangers of inversion therapy are:


  • Heartbeat slows down
  • Blood pressure increases
  • An immediate pressure in the eyes


It is advised that if a patient has Glaucoma, Heart Disease, and High Blood Pressure, Inversion Therapy is not for you. Inversion therapy can help with minor low back aches and pains. However, it can be uncomfortable laying upside-down hanging from your ankles for several minutes. It can be problematic if you have blood-pressure issues, vertigo, dizziness, syncope issues, etc. In fact, it can worsen pain if there significant muscle-guarding in the low back. But there are no known major complications.

Inversion therapy can help decrease disc pressure but it is not the treatment for disc herniation or nerve compression. For those, you need spinal decompression therapy, which has a reported measured success of over 90% treating low back pain and sciatica.


All in all, inversion therapy are good for minor back issues, like aches and pains, but if you have something more severe, like a disc herniation or sciatica, consider spinal decompression therapy, or in severe cases, surgery. Consult your doctor to discuss the pros and cons of each to see what is the best treatment option for your back issue.

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