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Posted by on Nov 13, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Benefits, side effect and costs associated with Spinal Decompression Therapy !

Benefits of Spinal Decompression Therapy

Spinal decompression therapy is a computerized form of traction.  The machines or the table’s can also bend and move in certain ways to address the injured area more specifically.  As I mentioned in previous Spinal Decompression articles at Simply Align Rehab we use our machines to address the injured areas in pain free position.  Spinal Decompression is used for various conditions and can effectively relieves pain associated with disc herniation, degenerative discs, posterior facet syndromes by reducing the pressure on spinal discs and facet joints through unloading created by distraction and positioning.  The computerized traction also known as pulls are subtle and monitored by built in sensors at real time.

In short spinal decompression can help with

  • Disc Bulge or Protrusion – condition in which the outer layers of discs put pressure on the spinal nerves
  • Disc Herniaion – condition in which in inner part of the discs pierce through the outer layers and cause inflammation and pressure on the spinal nerves.
  • Sciatica – refers to pain going down the leg due to pressure on spinal nerves
  • Stenosis – refers to pain usually down both legs of arms due to pressure on spinal cord
  • Disc Degeneration with osetophytes – deterioration of disc and resulting in loss of disc height
  • Facet Syndrome – condition in which the small joints of back of spinal bones are affected

Side Effects of Spinal Decompression Therapy

Much like any medication or surgery or treatments there are some side effects and risks involved with Spinal Decompression Therapy.  As I mentioned before spinal decompression therapy is really a form of traction, so basically the same side effects apply.

After Spinal Decompression you may experience:

  • Some muscle spasm – Inform the doctor since ice and/or muscle stimulation can be used to reduce this spasm
  • Shooting pain down the arm or leg – Press to stop button and inform the doctor, 3D Spinal Decompression and repositioning may be required

You should not do Spinal Decompression if you have:

  • Bone Cancer or infection
  • Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Severe Osteoporosis
  • Artificial discs, or Bone on bone screws
  • Recent spinal or abdominal surgery

You should consult your health professional if you have:

  • Old Spinal surgery
  • Moderate osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spondylolisthesis – when one spinal bone has moved forward with respect to the level below, seen on x-ray
  • Paget disease – is a chronic disorder that can result in enlarged and weaken bones.
  • Difficulty with lying down on your back or on your stomach since these positions is required for Spinal decompression machine

Cost of Spinal Decompression Therapy

The cost associated with Spinal Decompression therapy varies from as low as $40 to as high as $250 a visit in different clinics.  More expensive does not mean better.  At the same time you may be wasting your money in cheaper therapies and traction machines. Many clinics including our clinic suggest packages.  I strongly believe that signing up for a package that roadmaps your therapy is beneficial.  Many patients that try Spinal Decompression only a few times waste their money and time.  It is really a process of healing.  At the same time I have heard packages as much as $5000 to $7000 for 20 sessions of Spinal Decompression Therapy including supplements, belts and orthotics.  I am not sure if that can be justified.  After years of experience in this particular type of therapy I have formulated the following as cost reasoning.

  • The experience of the doctor – How many years or how many patients with different conditions has the doctor seen with Spinal Decompression Therapy
  • Patient education – Are education in performing daily activities are thought by the clinic? This activities include how to get on and off the table or bed, proper posture, proper lifting, bending, standing, sitting and etc..
  • Stability Exercises –Are stability exercises in clinic and at home are thought by the clinic?  These exercises are essential in stabilizing the back.  They are not simple stretches, they are specific to the condition and change from patient to patient and must be thought properly.
  • Complementary Therapy – Electro therapy, Laser, ultrasound, acupuncture and stretches can be applied to reduce pain and inflammation and increase range of motion.  At Simply Align Rehab we use Hands Free Ultrasound, Super Pulsed Laser Therapy, Electro Therapy, Acupuncture, Tissue Work and Stretches as a complement to Spinal Decompression.
  • Spinal Decompression Machine – These machines can cost the clinic as high as $100,000 (DRX 9000 Decompression table) to as low as $8000 (Triton Traction Table).  I put this category near last because I don’t think the machines matter as much.  Most machines are designed to pull the spine and they do just that.  The positioning ability of the table or machine allowing most comfortable position and comfort during decompression is what matters the most.  Belts of the Spinal Decompression tables should be comfortable but firm.  The pulls and traction intervals should be gradual and programmable.  At Simply Align Rehab we use 3D Spinal Decompression Machine.  There are no pulleys or ropes with our machine.  The table itself splits and applies decompression. The lumbar or lower back region of our table can bend and twist in eight different positions allowing to maximum comfort.
  • Additional Supplements and Belts – Many clinics have different supplements and belts as part of their packages.  In my experience not everyone need supplements or back belts.  There is some research suggesting that back belts can cause muscle weakness and should be avoided.  There is also no high quality research suggesting disc replenishment using supplementation such as Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Calcium or other natural supplements.  At Simply Align Rehab we have few well researched supplements and different types of belts and posture correctors that are part of your package or suggested only when you need them.

For more information about our pricing please contact us or see us for a free consultation.   Our pricing is reasonable and covered by most insurances such as Manulife, Sun life, Great west Life and Auto Insurance.

1 Comment

  1. 1) AcupunctureA study conducted at Sheffield University in the United Kingdom lkeood at the long-term symptom reduction and economic benefits of acupuncture for persistent low back pain. An average of 8 acupuncture treatments were given to 159 people, while 80 people received usual care instead.After one year, people receiving acupuncture had reduced pain and reported a significant reduction in worry about their pain compared to the usual care group. After two years, the acupuncture group was significantly more likely to report that the past year had been pain-free. They were less likely to use medication for pain relief.How does acupuncture work? According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain results from blocked energy along energy pathways of the body, which are unblocked when acupuncture needles are inserted along these invisible pathways.A scientific explanation is that acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving opioids, sends signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, and releases neurochemicals and hormones.An acupuncture treatment generally costs between $60 and $120. Acupuncture is tax-deductible (it’s considered a medical expense) and some insurance plans pay for acupuncture.If you want to try acupuncture, plan on going one to three times a week for several weeks initially.2) Capsaicin CreamAlthough you may not have heard of capsaicin (pronounced cap-SAY-sin) before, if you’ve ever eaten a chili pepper and felt your mouth burn, you know exactly what capsaicin does. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers.When it is applied to the skin, capsaicin has been found to deplete substance P a neurochemical that transmits pain causing an analgesic effect.In one double-blind study, 160 people were treated with capsaicin for 3 weeks, while another 160 people used a placebo. After 3 weeks, pain was reduced by 42% in the capsaicin group compared to 31% in the placebo group. Investigators rated capsaicin significantly more effective than placebo.Capsaicin cream, also called capsicum cream, is available in drug stores, health food stores, and online. A typical dosage is 0.025% capsaicin cream applied four times a day. The most common side effect is a stinging or burning sensation in the area.If possible, wear disposable gloves (available at drugstores) before applying the cream. Be careful not to touch the eye area or open skin. A tube or jar of capsaicin cream typically costs between $8 and $25.3) Vitamin DChronic muscle pain can be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is found in fish with small bones, fortified milk and cereal, and exposure to sunlight.Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency are: * darker pigmented skin (e.g. Hispanic, African American, Asian) does not convert UV rays efficiently to vitamin D * digestive disorders, such as celiac disease * use of glucocorticoid medications for conditions such as lung diseases and allergies * minimal sun exposure (elderly, institutionalized, homebound, veiled or heavily-clothed individuals) * latitude and season for example, people in Boston do not produce vitamin D from sun exposure between November and FebruaryA study by the University of Minnesota lkeood at the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in 150 people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Researchers found that 93% of patients had vitamin D deficiency. All people with darker pigmented skin (African American, East African, Hispanic, and Native American origin) had vitamin D deficiency.Another interesting finding was that the majority of people with severe vitamin D deficiency were under 30 years of age. Season was not a significant factor.The researchers concluded that all people with persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain should be screened for vitamin D deficiency.4) Music TherapyMusic therapy is a low-cost natural therapy that has been found to reduce the disability, anxiety, and depression associated with chronic pain.A study evaluated the influence of music therapy in hospitalized patients with chronic back pain. Researchers randomized 65 patients to receive, on alternate months, physical therapy plus 4 music therapy sessions or physical therapy alone.Music therapy significantly reduced disability, anxiety, and depression. Music had an immediate effect on reducing pain, although the results were not statistically significant.5) Vitamin B12Vitamin B12 has been found to relieve low back pain. A double-blind Italian study examined the safety and effectiveness of vitamin B12 for low back pain. People who received vitamin B12 showed a statistically significant reduction in pain and disability. They also used less pain medication than the placebo group.Besides pain, other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are numbness and tingling, irritability, mild memory impairment, and depression.Risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency are : * pernicious anemia * medications (stomach acid-blocking medications) * inadequate intake of meat or dairy products * infection (small intestine bacterial overgrowth, parasites) * Digestive diseases (stomach removal surgery, celiac disease, Crohn’s diseaseVitamin B12 muscle injections are the standard treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency.Studies have found vitamin B12 sublingual tablets (placed under the tongue for absorption) and nasal gel are also effective.6) MagnesiumMagnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. It’s involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle spasms and pain, premenstrual syndrome, irritability, depression, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and heart disease.A German study found that mineral supplements increased intracellular magnesium levels by 11% and was associated with a reduction in pain symptoms in 76 out of 82 people with chronic low back pain.7) Willow BarkThe bark of the white willow tree (Salix alba) has pain-relieving properties similar to aspirin. An ingredient in white willow bark, called salicin, is converted in the body to salicylic acid (aspirin is also converted to salicylic acid once in the body). Salicylic acid is believed to be the active compound that relieves pain and inflammtion.A number of studies have compared white willow to medication or placebo: * A University of Sydney study compared the effects of willow bark extract to refecoxib, a Cox-2 inhibitor pain medication. In the study, 114 patients received a herbal extract containing 240 mg of salicin and 114 received 12.5 mg of refecoxib every day. After four weeks, both groups had a comparable reduction in pain. * A study in the American Journal of Medicine examined 191 patients with an exacerbation of chronic low back pain. They were randomly assigned to receive a willow bark extract with either 120 mg (low-dose) or 240 mg (high-dose) of salicin, or placebo. In the fourth week of treatment, 39% of people receiving the high-dose extract were pain-free, 21% receiving the low-dose were pain-free, and 6% of people receiving the placebo were pain-free. People in the high-dose group improved after the first week. Significantly more people in the placebo group required pain medication. Yoga for Back PainYoga creates balance in the body through various poses that develop flexibility and strength. A study of people with chronic mild low back pain compared Iyengar yoga to back education. After 16 weeks, there was a significant reduction in pain intensity, disability, and reliance on pain medication in the yoga group. Benefits were also seen at three month follow up assessments.Another study compared yoga, conventional exercise, and a self care book for people with chronic low back pain. Back function in the yoga group was superior to the book and exercise groups at 12 weeks. Although there was no difference in symptoms at 12 weeks, at 26 weeks, the yoga group was superior to the book group.9) Bowen TherapyBowen therapy is a type of gentle bodywork that was developed in Australia by osteopath Tom Bowen (1916-1982). Bowen therapy is more widely used in Australia and Europe, but it has been growing in popularity in North America.Bowen therapists use a series of specialized moves using their fingers and thumbs. The moves typically involve the therapist pulling the skin slack away from the muscle, applying pressure, and then quickly releasing the tension.These moves are performed on precise areas of muscles where special receptors are located. Nerve impulses are sent to the brain, resulting in muscle relaxation and reduction of pain.The moves are not continuous the therapist allows the client to rest for a few minutes between each move. A typical treatment is between 30 to 40 minutes.10) Breathing TechniquesBreathing techniques that make use of the mind-body connection have been found to reduce pain. These techniques integrate body awareness, breathing, movement, and meditation. What’s great about breathing techniques is that you can do them yourself at home at no cost.One study compared 6-8 weeks (12 sessions) of breath therapy to physical therapy. Patients improved significantly with breath therapy. Changes in standard low back pain measures of pain and disability were comparable to those resulting from high quality, extended physical therapy. Breath therapy was found to be safe. Other benefits of breath therapy were improved coping skills and new insight into the effec

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