Dr. Z Blog

Back Pain? Spinal Decompression can Help!

Do you have lower back pain, neck pain or a slipped disc and have been wondering what can be done to help you get better without surgery? Maybe you have heard some ads on the radio about spinal decompression, maybe you have even seen a commercial or two about it. A friend or family member may be raving about how much better their back feels since the started spinal decompression treatments. Your curiosity is peaked and you’re probably wondering what is spinal decompression?

Spinal decompression is a type of motorized traction that studies have shown may help relieve lower back pain, decrease need for surgical intervention and improve disc height. Spinal decompression works by applying a gentle stretching force to the spine. This stretching force helps to remove pressure on the discs, decrease pressure on the spinal joints and remove pressure on the nerves that may be causing you pain. Spinal decompression may also create a negative pressure within the disc, which helps pull any disc material, that may be bulging or herniated out, back into the disc itself. This pressure change also promotes the movement of water, oxygen and nutrient rich fluids into the discs, nerves and joints of the spine, which helps promote healing of these structures.

So what does the research say about this treatment? Studies have found that spinal decompression has been associated with improvements in pain, increase in disc heights, and a decrease need for surgical interventions. A study done in 2010 found that as disc height increased, pain scores went from 6.2 down to 1.6 (1). Additional research has only served to strengthen the correlation between spinal decompression therapy and decreased pain, improvements in disc height and a decreased need for surgery (1, 2, 3, 4).

You may be wondering, how does spinal decompression work? It’s actually a very relaxing, pain free process. At Universal Chiropractic we have over 20 years of experience treating spine pain and disc injuries and we have put this experience to work for you. We use a spinal decompression protocol that is designed to keep your muscles as relaxed as possible so that all the spinal decompression forces can occur where they are needed, without having to fight tight muscles. Our protocols provide you with effective spinal decompression, while keeping any pain or soreness to a minimum. When you come in for spinal decompression you remain fully clothed and are able to lie on either your back or stomach, whichever is most comfortable for you. Once you are positioned and comfortable on the table you’ll be fitted with a belt that goes around your pelvis and waist and another belt that goes around your torso. These belts are how decompression is applied to your spine, the lower belt is attached to the decompression unit and the torso belt keeps your spine stabilized and in proper alignment. After the belts have been applied the doctor will get the spinal decompression program that is best for you programmed into the computer that operates the decompression table and starts your treatment. Most treatments will last about 15 to 20 minutes or so depending on your condition and the protocol best suited for you. We have found that most patients usually need about 24 treatments before they can progress to a preventative maintenance treatment schedule. Now this may seem like a lot of treatments but the time it takes to complete your spinal decompression treatment plan is usually less time than it would take to complete physical therapy or go through a surgery and rehabilitation program. And besides, isn’t getting pain relief and being able to move better without surgery worth a little of your time?

Spinal decompression can be used to treat the following conditions.

1. Lower back pain

2. Neck pain

3. Sciatica

4. Bulging or herniated discs

5. Compressed or injured nerves

6. Worn spinal joints or spinal arthritis

7. Spinal stenosis

There are some risks and conditions that may prevent you from doing spinal decompression. These conditions are,

1. Fractures of the spine or vertebrae

2. Active cancers or tumors

3. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

4. Advanced osteoporosis, or weak bones

5. Metal implants in the spine or spinal fusion

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re a candidate for spinal decompression it is best to get in touch with our office and schedule a consult. Depending on the nature of your condition we may still be able to find a decompression protocol that is safe for you or we may be able to use some of our other treatment options to help you decrease your pain, improve your movement, and help you to feel better. To learn more you can call our office at 716-822-BACK (2225). We look forward to hearing from you and helping you to feel better and enjoy life more!


Written by: Dr. Marshall Dornink










1. Apfel, Christian & Cakmakkaya, Ozlem & Martin, William & Richmond, Charlotte & Macario, Alex & George, Elizabeth & Schaefer, Maximilian & Pergolizzi, Joseph. (2010). Restoration of disk height through non-surgical spinal decompression is associated with decreased discogenic low back pain: A retrospective cohort study. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. 11. 155. 10.1186/1471-2474-11-155.

2. El-Zayat, AhmedR & Gomah, Wael & Aldesouky, AhmedH. (2019). Spinal decompression therapy as an alternative modality for management of low back pain and radicular pain caused by lumbar disc herniation or protrusion. Egyptian Rheumatology and Rehabilitation. 46. 183. 10.4103/err.err_34_18.

3. MD, MBA & MD, MBA & MD, Joseph & Macario, Alex & Richmond, Charlotte & Auster, Martin & Pergolizzi, Joseph. (2008). Treatment of 94 Outpatients With Chronic Discogenic Low Back Pain with the DRX9000: A Retrospective Chart Review. Pain Practice. 8. 11 – 17. 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2007.00167.x.

4. Daniel, Dwain. (2007). Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy: Does the scientific literature support efficacy claims made in the advertising media?. Chiropractic & osteopathy. 15. 7. 10.1186/1746-1340-15-7.

5. Spinal Decompression Therapy Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD, May 17, 2019 https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/spinal-decompression-therapy-surgical-nonsurgical accessed April 19, 2021