What is Spinal Decompression?

What is Spinal Decompression?

Health & Wellness
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Chronic back pain can easily have a negative impact on your overall life. Back pain can limit your mobility, keep you up at night, and make even the simplest of activities nearly impossible. Luckily, by visiting a specialist spine center or chiropractor’s office, there are many therapy options available to help patients find relief from pain.

One of these options includes spinal decompression—a noninvasive treatment that gently stretches the spine of the patient. This gentle stretching motion works to relieve pressure on your disks and reposition the spine to its proper alignment. Here, we’re taking a closer look at spinal decompression and how this common chiropractic treatment can be beneficial for a variety of healthcare patients.

What is Chiropractic Care?

We’ve all heard of it, but do you know what this type of treatment actually involves? Chiropractic care is a type of healthcare that focuses on treating a range of musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses. Focusing on the spine with chiropractic adjustments and spinal manipulation, chiropractors use a hands-on approach to correct the body’s natural alignment and reposition the spine. Chiropractic adjustments can offer quick pain relief, improved mobility, and better athletic performance. Receiving regular chiropractic care can also help you prevent the risk of future injuries.

In addition to chiropractic adjustments, chiropractic care may also incorporate a range of supplemental therapies, such as:

Of course, it’s important to remember that not every single chiropractor’s office will offer this full list of healthcare services. That’s why you should always be open and honest with your potential healthcare provider so they can understand your specific needs. In most cases, if a particular chiropractor can’t help you, they’ll be able to provide a reference to another specialist who can provide the care you need.

What is Spinal Decompression?

There are two types of spinal decompression: nonsurgical spinal decompression and surgical spinal decompression. As the names suggest, the primary difference is that one requires more invasive surgery to treat pain and back problems like bulging disks, ruptured disks, bony growths, and other health issues. Generally, noninvasive spinal decompression is much more common and the alternative is only offered as a last resort.

Since it is much more common, here we’ll be focusing primarily on nonsurgical spinal decompression. Spinal decompression therapy is a type of motorized traction that works to treat various back problems and relieve pain. Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine of the patient to correct the positioning and provide relief from pain. This gentle motion takes pressure off the spinal disks, which act like cushions between the bones in your spine. This pressure is often the primary cause of chronic back pain.

Following spinal decompression therapy, bulging or herniated disks often retract, which works to take pressure off the spine and the nervous system (which a large portion of the central nervous system is housed in the spine). When this occurs, the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient- rich blood is better able to travel throughout the body to nourish your muscles and bones and other organs. This promotes a naturally healing for the body that can reduce pain and also improve recovery. For many athletes and active individuals, spinal decompression can also boost your overall performance and improve your overall health and wellness.

How Does Spinal Decompression Work?

So, how exactly does this type of treatment work? Spinal decompression is performed at a doctor’s or chiropractor’s office with a specialized motorized table as the key piece of equipment for treatment.

During a spinal decompression session, the patient remains fully clothed and lies down on the specialized table. A harness is gently places around the hips of the patient and is then attached to the lower part of the table near the patient’s feet. The upper half of the table remains fixed while the lower half, where the harness is attached, slides back and forth in a gentle motion. This swaying motion provides the traction and most patients describe the sensation as very relaxing and even pleasant.

Different types of nonsurgical spinal decompression may have the patient lying in slightly different positions. This will depend on the specific healthcare needs of the patient. Some types of spinal decompression have the patient lying prone on the table facing down while others will have the patient lying face up. As the spine stretches, the patient should not feel any pain throughout the duration of the therapy. As a noninvasive and holistic approach to care, spinal decompression is safe and effective.

What Health Issues Can Be Treated with Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression?

Doctors and chiropractors have used nonsurgical spinal decompression to successfully treat a range of health problems. Most commonly, spinal decompression is used to offer pain relief, but it can also help additional issues.

Spinal decompression can be used to treat many health issues, including:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Sciatica pain
  • Bulging or herniated disks
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Worn spinal joints
  • Injured spinal nerve roots


If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, don’t suffer needlessly a day longer. Visiting an experienced chiropractor’s office can open your eyes to a range of treatment options that can relieve back pain, neck pain and stiffness, knee pain, shoulder pain, and more. One effective treatment that addresses back pain at the source is spinal decompression.

With both surgical and nonsurgical options, spinal decompression has helped countless patients find relief from pain, gain better mobility, and begin a journey toward better overall health. Nonsurgical spinal decompression, the much more common option, is a safe and noninvasive approach to care that is offered at many chiropractor’s offices. If you think you could benefit from spinal decompression, reach out to your local chiropractor or your primary care physician and get back to the lifestyle you love.

Zach Lundgren has a graduate degree in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication. He is an experienced SEO writer with an interest in scientific communication and technical writing. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, backpacking, and creative writing.