When to Consider Spinal Decompression for Chronic Pain

Feb 09, 2024
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If you have a bulging, herniated, or compressed disc in your lower back that’s causing chronic lower back pain or persistent sciatica, spinal decompression therapy can be an ideal solution. Here’s how it works and when it’s a good option.

Chronic pain affects one in four adults in the United States at any given time, and lower back pain and sciatica rank as two of the most common causes. If you’re dealing with either one, you want next-level care that addresses the underlying problem — and helps you avoid the need for surgery down the line.   

Our expert team at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center in Manassas, Virginia, offers a full scope of noninvasive therapies for spine-related chronic pain conditions. Here, Dr. Lincoln German and Dr. Mikaela Foley explore the ins and outs of spinal decompression, including when it can help and how it works. 

Spinal compression and chronic pain 

When lower back pain or sciatica-related leg pain persists for longer than three months, it’s no longer a short-term, acute problem; it’s a chronic condition that requires a tailored treatment approach that goes beyond rest and pain medication to deliver real, lasting relief. 

The first step in any noninvasive treatment approach to chronic lower back or leg pain is finding its underlying cause. In many cases, the culprit is one or more of the following: 

  • Herniated spinal discs in the lumbar spine (lower back)
  • Sciatic nerve root compression from a herniated disc (sciatica)
  • Degenerative disc disease, or the progressive stiffening of discs 
  • Facet joint syndrome, or the degeneration of your spinal joints    

 Each of these conditions causes persistent pain through one mechanism: spinal compression. Whether the structures in your lumbar spine have become compressed by a damaged disc or facet joint degeneration has compressed a disc, the resulting nerve root irritation can trigger long-lasting pain with no end.          

When spinal decompression can help

Non-surgical spinal decompression is a gentle, noninvasive treatment that uses a motorized, computer-assisted traction table to stretch and lengthen your spine mechanically. By applying the very same chiropractic principles that guide hands-on spinal adjustments, this innovative approach aims to: 

  • Correct structural compression in the lumbar spine
  • Alleviate compression-related nerve irritation and pain
  • Foster accelerated healing for herniated or damaged discs

If you have a bulging, herniated, or compressed disc in your lower back that’s causing chronic lower back pain or persistent sciatica, spinal decompression can be an ideal solution. 

We may recommend it early on based on diagnostic imaging results or suggest it if you haven’t attained sufficient relief from a more “stepped” approach (e.g., physical therapy exercises and stretches, postural rehabilitation, massage therapy, chiropractic care). 


Either way, the goal of recommending non invasive spinal decompression is to help improve your condition, stop its progression, alleviate pain, and prevent the need for future surgery.  

Your spinal decompression treatment  

Spinal decompression is individually tailored using advanced computer software that’s directed by the input of several treatment-determinant factors, including your body weight, the nature, severity, and duration of your symptoms, and sensitivity level.     

The upper part of the traction table is fixed, while the lower part is motorized and mobile. Once you’re lying comfortably on your back, we: 

  1. Fit a harness around your hips, which is attached to the lower end of the table 
  2. Activate the lower part of table, causing it to gently slide back and forth
  3. Allow the table to cycle through brief gentle “pull forces” and intermittent relaxation

As the treatment alters between controlled stretching and relaxation moments, it fosters a gentle pressure release that restores optimal space for specific spinal discs and nerve roots — and delivers rapid pain relief. 

The slow, rhythmic stretching action also generates a light and controlled “negative pressure” force that makes the targeted spinal discs momentarily contract, much like a reverse vacuum. 

This reverse vacuum effect gently pulls herniated disc material back into an injured disc while simultaneously prompting an influx of oxygen- and nutrient-rich fluid into the disc. This action creates a more healing environment for the previously compressed structures. 

Is spinal decompression right for you?

Ready to find out if spinal decompression therapy can resolve your chronic pain? Call or click online to schedule a visit at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center in Manassas, Virginia, today.