What is Spinal Decompression ?

State of the Art Decompression Therapy

Decompression Therapy System (DTS) is the most comprehensive program available, allowing the safe delivery of this (previously hospital based) procedure in our office. DTS is a cost-effective alternative to surgery with a high success rate in reducing and even eliminating low back and neck pain. DTS relieves pain by gently stretching discs and joints allowing the disc and vertebral joints to heal naturally without surgery.

DTS Treatments are:

  • Comfortable
  • Relaxing
  • Effective
  • Affordable
  • Uniquely designed for each patient

If you suffer from chronic, debilitating, low back or neck pain, you may be a candidate for spinal decompression therapy.

Spinal Decompression Therapy is FDA approved and clinically proven with an 86% success rate for pain associated with herniated or bulging discs...even after failed back surgery.

What Makes Spinal Decompression Therapy so Effective?

The DTS system creates a controlled unloading of the vertebrae to decrease disc pressure, thus increasing blood and nutrient exchange. This exchange of fluids is something that the damaged disc desperately needs to help it heal, from the inside out. During the procedure, the computer controlled decompression system cycles between distraction and relaxation phases. With proper positioning, a specific spinal disc can be isolated and placed under negative pressure, causing a vacuum effect within it. This vacuum effect accomplishes two things. From a mechanical standpoint, protruded or herniated disc material can be pulled back within the disc relieving pressure on nerves. Secondly, the vacuum within the disc stimulates increased blood supply and nutrient exchange within damaged tissues. Since the disc is an avascular structure, it doesn't receive fresh blood and oxygen with every beat of the heart. It requires "diffusion" created by motion and "decompression" to restore nutrients and enhance healing. This results in pain reduction and increased healing at the injured site.

How long till I see results from Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Most patients report a reduction in pain after the first few sessions. However, Dr. Leon does not only look at pain, but also at increase in range of motion, increase at the person’s capacity to do his/her daily and work activities, and reduction in any predisposing factor.

Are there medical studies that document the effectiveness of Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Yes! One study documented by MRI up to 90% reduction of disc herniations in 10 of 14 cases and other studies reported that the majority of herniated disc patients achieved "good" to "excellent" results after spinal decompression therapy.

Do most patients receive therapy and rehabilitative exercises in addition to Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Yes. Herniated Disc disease is a complex condition that is usually not limited to the rupture disc. Things like inflammation, muscle spasms, and structural problems need to also be addressed in order to have a better result. Adjunctive therapy, active rehabilitation, and chiropractic treatments are incorporated into the protocol in order to reduce inflammation, reduce muscle spasms, assist in the healing process, and strengthen the spinal musculature.

Spinal Decompression Therapy

Dr. Brando is dedicated to offering the latest, state of the art therapies for treating pain in the low back and neck, sciatica, pinched nerves, and bulging or degenerative disc diseases. We believe DTS Spinal Decompression Therapy to be one the most advanced, non-surgical and pain-free alternative available today.

What machine is used for this purpose?

There are a number of spinal decompression machines presently approved for use in the United States . After significant research Dr. Brando chose to use the Triton DTS machine manufactured by Chattanooga, Inc., the premier manufacturer of physical therapy machines. The award winning Triton® computer is the key. It controls the variations in the spinal decompression and eliminating muscle guarding that is typical in conventional traction devices. The preprogrammed patterns for ramping up and down the amount of axial distraction allows for higher levels of spinal decompression and disc rehydration.

I have had spinal surgery, but continue to have pain. Can I try Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal decompression therapy can help people with back pain after failed spinal surgery. It can be performed in most patients who have not been left with an unstable spine after surgery.

Will Spinal Decompression Therapy treatments hurt? Is it safe?

Decompression therapy is one of the safest and most comfortable therapies available for spinal conditions. Most patients describe the treatment as mild stretch of their back or neck, and often fall asleep during treatment sessions.

Is Spinal Decompression Therapy new?

Traction has been used for over one hundred of years, but spinal decompression therapy is a modern and technologically advanced treatment. Scientific research and modern procedures have dramatically improved effectiveness and success rates using computer controlled delivery system and regular updates in protocol keep the decompression system in the forefront of non-invasive disc therapy.

Why is DTS Therapy Program more successful than other non-surgical treatment options?

DTS therapy is a comprehensive program of the newest traction techniques and targeted “core” stabilization exercises. We also use other adjunctive treatments that have proven effectiveness in back care. It is this multi-faceted approach that makes the overall treatment so effective. DTS therapy affects the disc as directly as possible without the damaging effects of surgery.

Why the need for exercises and other therapies?

A gradual breakdown of the foundational support of your back is what puts undue stresses on the discs and eventually leads to injury, pain, and loss of function. A complete program targeting the function of the stabilization muscles is a vital part of DTS therapy Program.

Will my pain go away for good?

The future is difficult to predict and every case is unique. However, our clinical experience shows that patients who completed the entire DTS treatment program are experiencing long-term pain relief and were able to effectively avoid a spinal surgery due to restored function without pain.

How much will it cost?

Costs vary as to the extent of care needed which is assessed on an individual basis, but it is a fraction of the cost of centers that do only spinal decompression fro their total income.

Who can benefit from Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Back pain or neck pain caused in whole or in part by a damaged disc and/or facet joint may be helped by spinal decompression therapy. These conditions include herniated, protruding or bulging discs, sciatica or radiculopathy (pain going down arms/legs), and pinched nerves.

Are there conditions where Spinal Decompression is not advised?

Spinal decompression therapy is usually not recommended on pregnant women, or patients who have severe osteoporosis, severe obesity, or severe nerve damage. It is not recommended for patients over 70. However, every patient is evaluated on an individual basis. Spinal surgery with instrumentation (screws and metal plates or “cages”) is also contraindicated. Surgery to the discs without fusion, or fusion using bony replacement is not contraindicated.

How often is treatment needed and how long does each session last?

Each decompression session requires approximately 20-30 minutes; but the whole protocol may take about one hour. Spinal decompression is usually performed 3-5 times a week for a total of 15-20 sessions. The extent and seriousness of the symptoms will determine the number of treatment needed and if more than three sessions per week should be utilized. Most patients experience significant pain relief after 4-6 sessions.

What kind of results can I expect with Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Over 80% of patients in this clinic have good pain relief. This success rate is similar to surgical results. Decompression therapy is just as effective and much less expensive than surgery.

A study published in Neurological Research found that out of 778 cases of patients receiving spinal decompression 92% said they showed improvement in pain relief. (Neurological Research; Volume 20, Number 3, April 1998). Long term pain relief can be enhanced with proper exercise, weight control, nutrition, and periodic check-ups.

Schnebel B. Simmons J, Chowing J, Davidson R. A digitizing technique for the study of movements of intradiscal dye in response to flexion and extension of the lumbar spine. Spine 1988; 13:309-12.

Studies about decompression

"Serial MRI of 20 patients treated with the decompression table shows in our study up to 90% reduction of subligamentous nucleus herniation in 10 of 14. Some re-hydration occurs detected by T2 and proton density signal increase. Torn annulus repair is seen in all." Eyerman, Edward MD. Simple pelvic traction gives inconsistent relief to herniated lumbar disc sufferers. Journal of Neuroimaging. Paper presented to the American Society of Neuroimaging, Orlando , Florida 2-26-98.

"Eighty-six percent of ruptured intervertebral disc (RID) patients achieved 'good' (50-89% improvement) to 'excellent' (90-100% improvement) results with decompression. Sciatica and back pain were relieved." "Of the facet arthrosis patients, 75% obtained 'good' to 'excellent' results with decompression."

C. Norman Shealy , MD , PhD, and Vera Borgmeyer, RN, MA.

Decompression, Reduction, and Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine: A Cost-Effective Treatment for Lumbosacral Pain. American Journal of Pain Management Vol. 7 No. 2 April 1997

"Results showed that 86% of the 219 patients who completed the therapy reported immediate resolution of symptoms, while 84% remained pain-free 90 days post-treatment. Physical examination findings showed improvement in 92% of the 219 patients, and remained intact in 89% of these patients 90 days after treatment."

Gionis, Thomas MD; Groteke, Eric DC. Surgical Alternatives: Spinal Decompression. Orthopedic Technology Review. 2003; 6 (5).

"All but two of the patients in the study improved at least 30% or more in the first three weeks.""Utilizing the outcome measures, this form of decompression reduces symptoms and improves activities of daily living."

Bruce Gundersen, DC, FACO; Michael Henrie, MS II, Josh Christensen, DC. A Clinical Trial on Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Using Vertebral Axial Distraction Delivered by a Computerized Traction Device. The Academy of Chiropractic Orthopedists, Quarterly Journal of ACO, June 2004

Studies on disc surgery emphasize inappropriate patient selection as the cause for surgical failure. (11,16,30,44) In Kramer's address to the International Spine Society he emphasized that the surgical failed back syndrome is the worst possible scenario a spine surgeon faces. (22) In North America the incidence for this iatrogenic disease is about 15%, compared to 5% with most European countries.(28) Comparisons between the United States and Europe indicate that the frequency of surgery in the U.S. is four times greater.(11) Statistics from the Back Pain Outcome

Assessment Team compiled from 1979 to 1987 indicate a rapidly growing number of disc excision and fusion operations performed each year, further escalating the cost. (11,44)

Studies of the various surgical procedures largely lack validity and controlled prospective studies are rare .(7) A randomized study by Revel demonstrated percutaneous discectomy has little value (32) and the same is true for laser discectomy.

Chemonucleolysis is superior to saline injection but inferior to surgical discectomy. While chemonucleolysis had its followers for a period of time, it has fallen into disrepute because of the serious side effects including anaphylaxis and myelitis and should no longer be considered an option. There are not any studies demonstrating the superiority of one particular surgical intervention and there is no support for adding a fusion to a routine discectomy. (11,27,28)

There has been much information in the media recently about the merits of spinal decompression. In order to appreciate the merits of the new technology, you must first understand the condition it treats.

Spinal decompression puts negative pressure on each disk, to alleviate the pressure and pain associated with compressed disks. When a disk is compressed, the disk material moves from its place between each disk, into the space occupied by the sensitive nerves. When the nerves become crowded, the patient experiences great pain and pressure. This pain is not alleviated by even the strongest of pain medications. Many times, the condition warrants the use of highly addictive medications, such as morphine to mask the pain long enough to give the patient some relief. Long term however, the risk for addiction increases, while the source of the pain is untreated.

Surgery attempts to treat the condition by shaving the part of the disk to create room for the material that is crowding the nerves. Spinal decompression eliminates the source of the pain, therefore eliminating the need for risky spine surgery and the subsequent months of down time post surgery.

Link to an excellent article on Spinal Decompression: Download