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More than a decade ago, researchers at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) were among the first to investigate the effects of spinal decompression on intervertebral discs. They found that astronauts were relieved of low back pain in the antigravity state. In addition, they learned that disc height was increased during a space mission. By combining proven scientific principles with the latest technological developments, a decompression system was developed by a team of physicians and former NASA engineers. The automated system they developed has the capability of decompressing discs to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves caused by disc herniations, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, and posterior facet syndrome. The decompression system uses a mechanized traction device and it features the only FDA-approved cervical attachment. The system reportedly lowers pressures in discs using a combination of harnesses, air bladders, and disc angle pull adjustments to treat lower back pain in a non-invasive, non-surgical manner. The device differs from manual manipulation and traction devices by reducing intervertebral disc pressure within the spine. The decompression system’s distracting process has been shown by MRIs to widen disc height space, allowing a decrease in intradiscal pressure while helping the disc reposition itself. This apparently triggers herniation shrinkage, which educes or eliminates protrusions and pressure on surrounding nerves. According to the manufacturer (Axiom Worldwide), each treatment is centered on a logarithmic ramp-up, hold, and release protocol implemented by a computerized system designed to bypass proprioceptors that restrict ligaments and muscles when they sense movement at the disc. By comparison, spinal manipulation by physical therapy, traction, chiropractic or osteopathic adjustments cannot bypass the body’s protective proprioceptor lockdown response and therefore cannot create negative vacuum pressure for extended periods. In the New England Journal of Medicine, an article by Stephen J. Lipson, M.D. (“Spinal Fusion Surgery –Advances and Concerns,” February 12, 2004), says 151,000 spinal fusions are done each year in America. He advocates restraint because of the complications and typically modest benefits associated with surgery. In a recent study utilizing the spinal decompression system, of 219 patients with herniated discs and degenerative disc disease, 86 percent who completed the therapy showed immediate improvement and resolution of their symptoms; 92 percent improved overall; five patients (2 percent) relapsed within 90 days of initial treatment. (“Spinal Decompression,” Nov/Dec 2003, Vol. 5, No. 6, Thomas Gionis, M.D., and Eric Groteke, D.C., Orthopedic Technology Review.)

A study by the Department of Neurosurgery and Radiology, Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Health Sciences Center, University of Texas published in the Journal of Neurosurgery (Volume 81, September 1994) demonstrates another aspect of decompression therapy: Intradiscal pressure measurement was performed by connecting a cannula inserted into the patient’s L4-5 disc space to a pressure transducer. The patient was placed in a prone position on a vertebral axial decompression therapeutic table and a tensionometer on the table was attached. Changes in pressure were recorded at a resting state and while controlled tension was applied by the equipment. Intradiscal pressure demonstrated an inverse relationship to the tension applied and tension in the upper range was observed to decompress the nucleus pulposus. The results of this study indicate that it is possible to lower pressure in the nucleus pulposus of herniated lumbar discs to levels significantly lower when distraction tension is applied according to the protocol escribed for decompression therapy.

In an another study of 778 patients, Gose et al recommend decompression therapy as a primary treatment modality for low back pain associated with lumbar disc herniation at single or multiple levels, degenerative disc disease, facet arthropathy, and decreased spine mobility. (“Vertebral axial decompression therapy for pain associated with herniated or degenerated discs or facet syndrome: An outcome study,” Neurological Research, April 1998). Researchers found that pain, activity, and mobility scores all improved after therapy. The researchers demonstrated a success rate ranging from 6 percent for facet syndrome to 72 percent for multiple herniated discs, and 73 percent for patients with a single herniated disc. The average successful outcome for all diagnoses was 71 percent. The authors concluded that for patients with low back pain, decompression therapy should be considered as a front-line treatment for degenerative spondylosis, facet syndrome, disc disease, and nonsurgical lumbar radiculopathy.

Spinal Decompression Therapy can be a great alternative to surgery. If considering spinal decompression therapy, it is important you visit an Experienced New York City Chiropractor that you can trust. Dr. Nektalov has the experience and provides free demonstrations!

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