Do Chiropractors Cure Pain?

decompression traction chiropractic des moines

Curing and Relieving Pain

I frequently get asked the question, “How do chiropractors “cure” back or neck pain?”

The short answer is chiropractors do not “cure” back or neck pain, but rather remove impediments to your body’s natural healing process which then allows your own body to heal itself.

There are many causes of neck and back pain. One very common cause of neck and back pain is misalignment of the vertebra.

The Human Spine

A typical human spine has 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae.

In addition to the vertebrae, there are 2 large joints between the pelvic bones call the sacroiliac joints. Each vertebra has two facet joints and the 12 thoracic vertebrae have an additional 6 rib joints. This creates the opportunity for misalignments between the various bones which can then cause nervous system interference.

At each vertebral level, there is a nerve on the left and right-hand sides which then supply the muscles, skin, and organs at that corresponding level.  Chiropractors specialize in realigning the vertebra of the spine, thereby removing nervous system impingement.

spine decompression subluxation

The chiropractic adjustment is one way in which nervous system interference can be corrected.

Sometimes, realigning the spine is not enough to remove nervous system interference, especially if there are degenerative conditions like thinning discs or facet syndrome or if disc herniation is present. At Firm Foundation Chiropractic, we have another valuable tool that allows us to treat more complicated cases using spinal decompression therapy.

Spinal Decompression Therapy

Spinal decompression therapy is performed on a special computerized decompression traction table.  The concept of spinal traction has been around for about 4000 years, and Hippocrates wrote several books on the subject.

Simply put, traction is the pulling of the vertebrae in the opposite direction of gravity. As a person stands, gravity pulls straight down through their spine in one direction causing compression of the discs. After many years the discs, which act as spacers holding the vertebra apart so the spinal nerves exit properly, may begin to become thin which leads to spinal nerve impingement.

Misalignments of the vertebrae, called subluxations, can exacerbate the condition and lead to accelerated degeneration. Some individuals are unlucky enough to have a weakening of the disc fibers which leads to a protrusion called a herniation.

Herniations can move into the space surrounding the nerve leading to severe symptoms such as sciatica, muscle spasm, inflammation, and searing pain. Left untreated, this can lead to muscle weakness, degeneration and atrophy.

herniated disc decompression

There have been many studies that show that straight traction can have many negative side effects.

Decompressive traction however has a proven track record with very few negative side effects associated with it. The difference between the two therapies is decompression traction uses an alternating pulsing therapy to prevent the negative side effects of straight traction.

What Happens with Spinal Decompression?

A therapeutic session might look something like this:  The computer is set for a top weight of 100 pounds and a lesser weight of 50 pounds. The spine is tractioned up to 100 pounds and held for a period of about 1 minute.  The computer then reduces the weight to 50 pounds which then allows a slow decompression of the discs which is held for 30 seconds.

The total treatment time ranges from 15 to 20 minutes during which time the spine will be traction and decompressed kind of like an accordion. One comprehensive study, conducted at the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, gathered research from 22 medical centers around America on the subject of spinal decompression therapy.

All participants in the trial had documented cases of disc herniation, degenerative discs, or facet syndrome. A total of 778 individuals participated and received between 10 and 20 spinal decompression sessions. The treatment was successful in 71% of the 778 cases.

Success was defined as reducing the patient’s symptoms, on a pain scale of 1-10 with a 10 being severe and a 0 being no pain, to a zero or 1 on a pain scale. In many cases these patients were in extreme pain and would’ve been graded as a 10 on the pain scale.

Furthermore, many of the individuals that did not get all the way down to a zero on the pain scale did significantly reduce their symptomatology which again speaks to the validity of decompressive traction. This study also measured improvements in mobility and the activities of daily living correlated strongly with pain reduction. ( Gose EE, Naguszewski WK, Naguszewski RK, Neurol RES. 1998 Apr; 20 (3): 186-90 )

Decomp table

Our Dynatron 900 Decompressive Traction Table offers us the ability to go beyond what the typical chiropractor can do help people with degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, facet syndrome, and some problems like scoliosis.

In many cases we have been able to help patients avoid surgery and to effectively manage symptomatology associated with severe spinal problems. Decompressive traction works in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions and the Dynatron 900 allows us to target each of these areas beyond what a traditional chiropractor can address utilizing only manual adjusting techniques.

Even patients with no significant back problems can benefit from preventive adjustments and decompression traction sessions.  The discs only receive nutrients from fluids derived from the bones. They can only “imbibe” when the body is lying down creating negative pressure in the disc.

This draws the fluid from the vertebrae helping to replenish the discs. I frequently get traction if I have a busy weekend doing yardwork, have to do any sort of heavy lifting, or have a busy week at the gym.

Your discs must last you a lifetime, so it is in your best interest to take good care of them and prevent degenerative disc disease!  

Call Frim Foundation Chiropractic today and schedule an appointment to get spinal decompression traction therapy.  Your discs will thank you by to causing you terrible back pain!

Spinal stages

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