Back-to-Back: Patients share tips on experiences with spinal decompression

Read our peer-reviewed article about spinal decompression:

All About Spinal Decompression Therapy

Want to know more about spinal decompression from those who have been affected most? In our Back-to-Back section, patients share tips and advice about using non-surgical spinal decompression to treat their back problems. Please visit our message boards to discuss spinal decompression, including the different types of chiropractic equipment used for this treatment.

Decompression helped me avoid surgery for a herniated disc

I have just finished 20 sessions on a SpineMed decompression table, and now am in several weeks of PT to get my abs and lower back muscles into shape. My lumbar back has been a problem for 24 years. Have seen doctors and chiropractors; taken OTC and prescription meds. Thought I had arthritis. Fell last year and ruptured disc between L3-4. Primary doctor ordered MRI. Found three other herniated discs. NS thought surgery was a "sure thing". A friend saw a news article about local chiropractor and SpineMed treatment, and here I am, PAIN FREE after all these years. Treatments were only slightly uncomfortable, but 15 minutes of ice afterwards was very helpful.


I used ice at home if needed, and an OTC NSAID (not needed every day). Now I sleep well, am able to take walks again, and am looking forward to completing my PT. PT is very helpful, and I now see a very normal future on my horizon. Besides the actual SpineMed treatments, I have a chiro who offers his patients the benefit of a Physical Therapist and a Massage Therapist in his office. He explained the procedure of SpineMed very thoroughly, and maintains an interest in my continuing recovery. When I saw my primary doctor three weeks ago, he was unfamiliar with SpineMed treatments, and is now considering adding this treatment to his office. There are other spinal decompression tables, however as I did research on the procedure, those persons treated with SpineMed seemed the most satisfied. I also understand that a new table (different manufacturer) has recently become available, and appears to offer similar results. Anyone facing surgery should check out this less invasive treatment first. I sure am glad I did!!!

From: Mountain Momma – California, USA


Going to try inversion therapy first

Ya know, these 'Inversion Tables' that you see when you Google 'Inversion Therapy' are only $200.00 to $1000.00 and you own the darn machine!

Where you hang at an adjustable angle and experience 'spinal decompression' among other circulatory benefits...

I'm looking into it...

I recently aggravated some mildly bulging discs, and some arthritis on my L-5 by working too hard on the treadmill... I thought I was doing great, till my hips started aching badly at night...

Just had an MRI and a bone scan and I'm waiting to see a specialist in a couple weeks for guidance...

My 'intuition' is telling me to stretch out my spine and neck... I wanna hang upside down!

I was told my insurance won't pay for proper spinal decompression therapy at my Chiro, but I'm thinkin' this Inversion thing might be great, certainly cheaper...

From: Bill – Florida, USA

Leg pain still interferes with my active life

I have been using decompression therapy for about 8 months now, and little has changed. I'm an active long distance cyclist who is about to quit because of the extreme back pain down my leg it causes me. It’s like someone is stabbing me in the back, then smashing my big toe with a hammer. My doctor told me to be patient, and that it takes time. During the therapy, I would sometimes feel good and sometimes not. The ups and downs with my pain seems to be the same before I had treatments. I have not gone the gym or been on my bike since I started the therapy. I only did the back exercises that I was told to do. I was excited to get back on my bike, but only to experience the same stabbing pain as I did eight months ago. I usually rode about 70 miles before the pain would come on. This time I only went 20 miles. Now I'm $4,500 more in dept and still in pain.

From: David – California, USA

What to look for in a spinal decompression provider

I have been performing Spinal Decompression procedure (non-surgical) since the beginning of 2002. Our clinic has had this unit since 1998. We have had many successful candidates and some that have required surgery (which they were candidates for). NOTHING works 100%, but this is definitely worth trying.

Make sure you find a health care provider with:

1.) Experience
2.) Knowledge of the procedure
3.) Reasonable costs (I charge roughly $100-$125/visit)
4.) Reasonable treatment duration (not everyone needs the full
20-24 visits)
5.) Incorporate PT modalities (ultrasound, heat/ice, massage,
6.) Incorporate Rehab/Exercise AND teach a Home Exercise Program
7.) A decent table (DRS, DRX, VAX-D are ones I am familiar with)

Remember, back surgery should be a last resort. Medications over a long period of time can have serious side effects. Epidurals can also have side effects and complications and generally are temporary.

From: Dr. H. – California, USA

Leg pain relief attributed to decompression therapy

I am a 62 year old female with a prior back surgery at L5 in '96. I began having problems with my back again about 5 years later. I have been through medicine and injections and had been told I needed surgery. I went to a back pain clinic that offered spinal decompression. I underwent 6 weeks of this decompression with one injection and some valium prescribed to tolerate laying on the table...I did very well with the procedure. I had horrible leg pain to my foot and could not sleep and now my leg pain is gone. I would recommend it highly before surgery.

From: Ruby – Texas, USA

Decompression worked on my herniated disc

My Orthopedist described my L5-S1 disk as "exploded". Said this was one on the worst disks he has seen for someone my age. Heard about this treatment from my sister-in-law who knows a doctor of chiropractic who has been performing this for years.

After about 14 treatments, I was about 75% better. I completed the full 24 that my doctor recommended. It cost me about $2500. I am about 1 year since I blew my disc and I have NO SYMPTOMS. I have been symptom free for about 6 months. I also had another MRI performed after the spinal decompression, it looks 100% normal.

From: Chris

Need advice or want to give some? Communicate with others about decompression therapy

* Note: This page expresses the experiences and opinions of patients, not doctors. The Back-to-Back forum is provided because we think people often have very practical advice and insights to share that can benefit other patients who have similar back problems. This section has not been peer reviewed by our Medical Advisory Board, and is provided for your informational purposes only.

If you have questions about your specific condition or treatment approach, please go through this site to read peer-reviewed health information about spinal conditions, diagnosis and treatment options. The quickest way to locate information on the site is to use the “keyword search” located in the upper left hand corner of each page. Also, if you want to talk online with others who may be in a similar situation, please go to the Message Board.

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