There are periods in our life that we will experience pain in our muscles and joints. If you are lucky enough, you may feel it within just a few days. But, for other people, they have chronic pain conditions. And this may last for months or years.

Even though pain medication existed and can be helpful, oftentimes it provides unpleasant side effects. And we’re glad that there are nonsurgical treatment – the spinal decompression therapy and the flexion-distraction technique which are effective as a pain relief option.

But, what is the main difference between these techniques? And what is the ideal treatment for you – is it a spinal decompression or flexion distraction?

Let’s define each treatment type to further understand how it is done and to uncover their difference.

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal Decompression Vs Chiropractic Flexion-Distraction Technique

Spinal decompression therapy or also referred to as nonsurgical spinal decompression works by gradually stretching the spine while the patient is in the traction table or a similar motorized device. Its main goal is to provide relief in back, leg, or neck pain – caused by bulging, degenerating, or herniated disc.

By using a spinal decompression table or other similar devices it creates negative pressure and spaces within the disc. This process allows the disc fluid to move back in its right place. And, it is creating an environment that provides the disc to take more nutrients. Thus, it can quickly heal on its own.

Spinal decompression utilizes the same basic principle of spinal traction offered by chiropractors and other trained professionals. They are both having an aim of providing pain relief and creating an environment that maximizes healing ability for bulging, degenerating, or herniated discs.

Conditions that can be treated by Spinal Decompression Therapy

This therapy is highly recommended on the following conditions:

  • Chronic Neck or Back Pain or Sciatica
  • Injured  or Diseased Spinal Nerve Roots
  • Degenerative disc disorders
  • Posterior Facet Syndrome or Worn Spinal Joints

However, the treatment is not ideal for patients with the following conditions:

  • Pregnant women
  • With Broken Vertebrae
  • Failed Back Surgery
  • Having Spinal Fusion
  • With Artificial disc
  • Having an Artificial Disc
  • Undergone multiple surgeries and not recovering or with no pain improvement.

Additionally, these conditions are also not ideal for spinal decompression therapy:

  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spinal Infection
  • Osteoporosis or with Osteopenia
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Spinal tumor
  • Conditions that may compromise the spine
  • Requiring to take blood-thinning medications

How is Spinal Decompression Done?

Within the spinal decompression session, the patient will remain fully clothed and lie on a decompression table, wherein the lower half can move. Then a harness is put around the patient’s hips and attached to the lower table near the feet. The upper body of the table remains on its regular position while the lower part in the area where the patient has harnessed slides back and forth in order to create traction and relaxation.

Treatment Duration

The length of applying this type of therapy depends on a patient’s current condition. Also, it will consider the level of pain, X-ray results, and if a patient received this type of treatment before.

On the average treatment may take about 6-8 sessions before a patient can gradually see the benefits. However, in some cases, the age may matter especially for those patients over 55 years old. In that case, treatment may take longer which is up to 20 sessions in order to gradually notice the results.

A session of spinal decompression may take about 30 minutes. It’s not painful and oftentimes will be a relaxing one. Each treatment is tailored according to the patient’s age and pain level. This therapy may also include other types of treatment modalities such as ultrasound, electric stimulation, or heat or cold therapy.

As we’re done defining Spinal Decompression, let’s also discover Flexion-Distraction Therapy to clearly uncover their differences.

What is a Chiropractic Flexion-Distraction Technique

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Flexion-distraction therapy is done in a segmented table or the Leander table which moves as the chiropractor starts to manipulate the spine. The manipulations using the combination movements of the table will stretch and decompress your spine. This is also an aid for relieving back, neck, leg, or arm pain.

As the chiropractor uses gentle manipulations, the section of Leander’s table drops or moves. This allows the changes in the position of the body. As the body slightly drops, there is gravity that maximizes the effects of the treatment and aids in realigning your spine.

As your chiropractor performs the gentle manipulations, a section of the treatment table drops or moves, changing the positioning of your body. When your body drops slightly, gravity enhances the effects of treatment and helps realign your spine.

Similar to spinal decompression therapy it is also a nonsurgical technique. It helps in treating various conditions in the lumbar spine. By applying Flexion-Distraction Technique it can reduce pressures on your spinal nerves and disc. It also aids in the improvement of your range of motion and mobility.

Conditions Treated by Flexion-Distraction Therapy:

  • Lumbar disc injuries such as ruptured, bulging, or herniated disc
  • Low Back Pain
  • Leg Pain
  • Arthritis
  • General Lower Back Stiffness
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Sprain or strain
  • Scoliosis
  • Sacroiliac syndrome
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Failed Back Surgeries
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

How a Flexion-Distraction Technique is Performed

The flexion-distraction table also uses a special table. This special chiropractic table or the ‘Leander Table’ will distract and flexes the spine using an automated and gentle rhythmic motion. Then, a Chiropractic Doctor uses a manual therapy using the table to help in resolving disc herniation or bulge. The goal of the treatment is to simply allow the spine to move correctly in order the pressure from the disc bulge can be removed. It’s maintaining healthy discs via imbibition.

So, What’s the Core Difference Between Spinal Decompression Therapy and Flexion-Distraction Technique?

We’ve uncovered that both spinal decompression therapy and flexion-distraction technique aims to relieve pain especially the musculoskeletal pains. But the core difference is that Spinal Decompression Therapy uses a motorized table or traction table that gradually elongates the patient’s spine while the Flexion-Distraction Technique which is used by Chiropractor uses also a special table (the Leander table)  but it is combined with the manual therapy or manual manipulation. The Chiropractor applies pressure on a specific area such as on the lower back while the table is automatically flexing and distracting the patient’s lumbar spine.

Which is the Ideal Treatment for You?

Either Spinal Decompression Therapy or Flexion-Distraction Technique can be ideal for you. Both have the aim to alleviate the pain and optimize their own healing of the body.

The best way to answer if which is the ideal treatment for you will depend on the diagnosis.

Are you looking for ways to get out of musculoskeletal pain?

Flexion-Distraction Technique or Spinal Decompression Therapy may help you. We have the best Chiropractors in Coquitlam and Surrey who are skilled in this technique. Also, we have licensed Physiotherapists in Coquitlam that can help you.

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