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Inversion Tables good for Spondylosisthesis?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi all, new to the site, looks like a helpful resource.

Here's my story...

I'm 27 y/o male, 6'8" 230 lbs. In very good shape, exercise every day: lifting, yoga, plyometrics, swimming, basketball, etc. The works. I also watch what eat (outside of football Sundays!) so all in all I take very good care of my body. At about 11% body fat right now.

I played basketball in college so needless to say my body has been to hell and back quite a few times. Broken bones, knee problems, the general wear and tear and of course the staple of many tall people/basketball players - a bad back.

I was first diagnosed with Spondylosisthesis when I was 19, my freshman year in college. Sciatica, internal bleeding (some nice yellow spots on my lower back) and became practically immobile thanks to a college coach who "didn't believe in injuries" and forced me to play/practice until I woke up one morning and literally could not get out of bed.

I have tried just about every form of treatment for my back outside of an inversion table. Yoga, lifting and keeping my core strong helps quite a bit but there is still pain every single day. I'm wondering if this pain could be related to additional spine compression due to years of basketball and the constant pounding my body has taken the last 15 years. Sort of the icing on the Spondy cake, sorta the general "really stiff and can't move" kinda discomfort. It's not as much the sharp pain these days, I haven't experienced sciatica since I was 20.

So I'm wondering if an inversion table will help my symptoms. I've been pushing through the pain and discomfort for nearly a decade and I feel like I'm so close to kicking these symptoms and hoping that this will help. I have a few questions for those familiar with them...

1. Can you get a free trial or test a table before purchasing? I looked online and it doesn't look like there are any "just pay shipping for a 14 day trial" kinda deals. Do some sporting good stores have them set up for testing (I'd imagine not for insurance reasons). I don't want to spend $200-$600 on something that may not help me at all.

2. Is there a height limit to most tables? They won't do me any good if I smack my head on the floor on the way down and don't fit haha. Most videos online look like they have a person 6' and under using the table.

3. Is the relief actually instant? Let's say I just got done playing basketball for two hours and my back is stiff and really sore. If I use the table for five minutes would I notice it right away? I would use it in additional to post-workout stretching and ice.

I'm not expecting a miracle but hoping for some significant improvement. Any other advice is appreciated! Thanks.


  • If we lived close, I have one still in the box I'd love to get rid of!! As you can see I cannot give you information based on my own experiences!

    I don't have answers for most of your questions. The person I trust most told me not to use it, thus, why it is still in the box, two years this month!

    I have or had spondylolisthesis -- in any case I had fusion for spondy and was advised not to use it as it would put undue stress on other areas of the spine, and it would not be helpful in the work we were doing to equalize my postural misalignments.

    I have never heard or read of a trial period. Sometimes they have similar products at sporting goods stores but they are not as good quality and are more designed as a weight loss tool. I think they can work well for mildly herniated discs...as well as some of those decompression machines they use at chiropractors' offices.

    From what i understand from talking to people who use them, you would not notice anything right away. It is more like a very gradual process...maybe in a month you'd be able to see a difference...maybe.

    I think you are doing well if you can swim and play basketball without aggravating your spondy....swimming in particular can be harmful to those with spondy due to the position of extension the back is held in -- especially while reaching outward with the arms while kicking, and any type of swimming on the stomach. If you only have stiffness and are sore, I think you are doing very well.

    Hope someone else can chime in on the inversion table questions.
  • The limit I found was 6'6".
  • Thanks for the info gwennie. The 6'6 height limit stinks but I was expecting. Oh well, thanks again!
  • Maybe there are some that are for taller people. That was just the limit I found.
  • Well, I have both spondylolisthesis and an inversion table (on loan from a friend but untried to this point). I've had spondylolisthesis since I was a kid. Severe back pain first manifested itself dramatically after quitting college football and losing 70 lbs at the age of 19. For decades back pain would appear occasionally but then go away after a week or so. However the back pain is chronic and now a daily occurrence at this point. I am 73 and had bypass surgery in 2010. I am on a low dosage coumadin (2.5 mg daily). Is hanging upside down a bad idea for me?
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