DR. WAYNE M. FICHTER JR.: Is spinal decompression right for me?

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For people with chronic back pain, every day can be a struggle with discomfort. For a long time, spinal decompression therapy was considered to be an experimental science, but recently research has shown that in certain circumstances, spinal decompression is a valuable treatment option that can safely relieve chronic back pain.

Not all back pain comes from the same source. Be it a disc bulge, pulled muscle, a pinched nerve, stenosis, or degenerative disc disease, they all can hurt equally as much. If the underlying cause of the pain is different, shouldn’t the treatment protocols be different also? With conditions that affect the disc, such as degenerative disc disease or a bulging disc, spinal decompression has been shown to be an effective treatment option that is non-surgical.

Although there has been controversy surrounding decompression, research is now showing the positive result from spinal decompression. A research study done in 2010 in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders showed that “Non-surgical spinal decompression was associated with a reduction in pain and increased disc height.” Decompression may not completely eliminate back pain in all cases, but it can reduce it considerably. However, a high percentage of patients do note a complete relief from their pain symptoms once care is completed.

The Hospital Management International, the official publication of the International Hospital Federation, wrote this about decompression, “Experience in the last decade has shown that traditional management based on rest and passive care has been unsuccessful, actually promoting disability. A new treatment and model of care has now provided an answer for this age old problem. Intuitively, lumbar decompression should be successful in alleviating many of the conditions that cause low back pain and associated radiculopathy. Technology has finally provided the answer and disc and nerves can now be effectively decompressed non-surgically.”

It’s important to note that just because you have low back pain, it doesn’t mean you are a candidate for decompression. This treatment is not recommended for everyone.

If you have had disc surgery you can still be a candidate for spinal decompression, unless you have rods or other metal in your spine.

Like any medical procedure, it is important to find a qualified practitioner who will properly diagnose the cause of your back pain. Even more important, it is crucial that you follow through completely with the full course of treatments recommended by your practitioner. In most cases it takes time to heal the disc. More than likely the cause of the pain didn’t happen overnight.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene, 208-966-4425.

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