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Spinal Decompression

With the recent advances in biotechnology, spinal decompression has evolved into a cost-effective nonsurgical treatment for herniated and degenerative spinal disc disease, one of the major causes of back pain.

This nonsurgical treatment for herniated and degenerative spinal disc disease works on the affected spinal segment by significantly reducing intradiscal pressures. Chronic low back pain disability is the most expensive benign condition that is medically treated in industrial countries. It is also the number one cause of disability in persons under age 45. After 45, it is the third leading cause of disability. Disc disease costs the health care system more than $50 billion a year.

The Break-down of Low Back Pain

The intervertebral disc is made up of sheets of fibers that form a fibrocartilaginous structure, which encapsulates the inner mucopolysaccharide gel nucleus. The outer wall and gel act hydrodynamically. The intrinsic pressure of the fluid within the semirigid enclosed outer wall allows hydrodynamic activity, making the intervertebral disc a mechanical structure. As a person utilizes various normal ranges of motion, spinal discs deform as a result of pressure changes within the disc. The disc deforms, causing nuclear migration and elongation of annular fibers. Osteophytes develop along the junction of vertebral bodies and discs, causing a disease known as spondylosis.

This disc narrows from the alteration of the nucleus pulposus, which changes from a gelatinous consistency to a more fibrous nature as the aging process continues. The disc space thins with sclerosis of the cartilaginous end plates and new bone formation around the periphery of the contiguous vertebral surfaces. The altered mechanics place stress on the posterior diarthrodial joints, causing them to lose their normal nuclear fulcrum for movement. With the loss of disc space, the plane of articulation of the facet surface is no longer congruous. This stress results in degenerative arthritis of the articular surfaces.
This is especially important in occupational repetitive injuries, which make up a majority of work-related injuries. When disc degeneration occurs, the layers of the annulus can separate in places and form circumferential tears. Several of these circumferential tears may unite and result in a radial tear where the material may herniate to produce disc herniation or prolapse. Even though a disc herniation may not occur, the annulus produces weakening, circumferential bulging, and loss of intervertebral disc height. As a result, discograms at this stage usually reveal reduced interdiscal pressure.
The early changes that have been identified in the nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosis are probably biomechanical and relate to aging. Any additional trauma on these changes can speed up the process of degeneration. When there is a discogenic injury, physical displacement occurs, as well as tissue edema and muscle spasm, which increase the intradiscal pressures and restrict fluid migration. Additionally, compression injuries causing an endplate fracture can predispose the disc to degeneration in the future.

The alteration of normal kinetics is the most prevalent cause of lower back pain and disc disruption and thus it is vital to maintain homeostasis in and around the spinal disc.

The three clinical stages of spinal degeneration include:

1. Stage of Dysfunction - There is little pathology and symptoms are subtle or absent. The diagnosis of Lumbalgia and rotatory strain are commonly used.

2. Stage of Instability - Abnormal movement of the motion segment of instability exists and the patient complains of moderate symptoms with objective findings. Conservative care is used and sometimes surgery is indicated.

3. Stage of Stabilization - The third phase where there are severe degenerative changes of the disc and facets reduce motion with likely stenosis.


Spinal decompression has been shown to effectively decompress the disc space, resulting in decrease pain and increase function. Click on the link below to see some of the many research articles about how spinal decompression treatment works and its effectiveness for disc injuries.

Articles About Spinal Decompression - Click on link below to see the PDF Document

Beattie PMR
Croft on Disc Herniations
Introdution An
Leslie DRX Study 09
Research Abstracts
Research Canadian Journal 2
Research Canadian Journal
Research Gionis
Research Gose Abstract
Research Gunderson
Research HNP Dec
Research Naguszewski Abstract
Research Naguszewskt
Research Ramos Abstract
Research Richmond
Research Sealy AjPM
Research Sherry Abstract
Research Textbook Chapter Sealy
Saunders Lumbar Traction
Spinal Decompression
Tilaro Report
GTreatment of 94 Outpatients