Am I a Candidate for Spinal Decompression Therapy?


During a spinal decompression therapy session, a patient lies on a computer-operated table and has their spine stretched and relaxed intermittingly. The purpose of the procedure is to create negative intradiscal pressure or to alleviate the pressure within the disc. This method is thought to pull the bulging or herniated disc back in place and increase the passageway of healing nutrients to the area.

Patients remain fully clothed during the procedure. They are asked to lay either face-up or face-down while two harnesses are placed around them: one near the hips and the other at the feet. The table is operated by a physician to slide back and forth to prove traction and then comparable periods of relaxation. Patients should only feel a gentle stretch and not pain throughout their spine during the procedure.

Patients who are considered good candidates for spinal decompression therapy include those who suffer from lower back pain, neck pain, or sciatica caused by a herniated or bulging disc or degenerated disc disease.

The procedure is considered safe for many different types of back pain; however, not everyone with back pain should have their spine stretched. The following is a list of people who are not good candidates for spinal decompression:

  • Pregnant women
  • Those with broken vertebrae in the back
  • Those who have had spinal fusion
  • Those who with pain from a failed back surgery
  • Those with an artificial disc or implant in their spine
  • Those who have had multiple surgeries without proper recovery or improvement in pain

People with the following conditions are also not good candidates:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spinal tumor or infection
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Any condition that may comprise the structure of the spine or that requires a patient to take blood thinners