The National Institutes of Health website reports that there have been two pilot studies which show that non-surgical spinal decompression treatment has a beneficial effect on lower back pain, enhancing the structure of the spine by increasing disc height. One study authored by Dr. John Leslie of the Mayo Clinic and others, found that clinical use of a spinal decompression system led to an 88.9 percent reduction in pain scores over six weeks, as well as a drop in consumption of pain medications and improvement in quality of life.
In the other study, CT scans of the lumbar spine in patients before and after spinal decompression treatment showed possible beneficial anatomical changes. Dr. Christian Apfel, lead author of this study and associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative care at the University of California at San Francisco, says, “A significant reduction in chronic lower back pain after non-invasive spinal decompression correlated with an increase in disc height.” It is noted that these studies were not conducted using scientific standards. Many agree that a similar controlled, randomized trial is required to prove that increased disc height leads to pain amelioration.
Yet for many who have suffered with back pain for long periods of time, and have tried traditional therapies including pain medications, physical therapy and epidurals to no avail, spinal decompression is an effective option. “Most of my spinal decompression patients arrive with MRI in hand,” says Dr. Larry Le Roy of Le Roy Chiropractic in La Quinta. “They have tried the route of pain meds and epidurals and been told that surgery is the best option.”
75% of the patients he sees are golfers and they want to keep golfing. “I’m an athlete too, and I get it. Life is no fun when you can’t enjoy your sports and hobbies, so our goal is to alleviate pain and get them back to what they love doing.”
If we can get some life back into those discs, we can take the pressure off the nerves and give the patient relief from pain
Dr. Le Roy explains how decompression creates a negative pressure and pulls blood into the affected area and helps bring the discs back to life. “Disc degeneration means the disc is dying. It is not getting the nutrients it needs. Is (spinal decompression) going to give you the disc of a 20 year old? No. But if we can get some life back into those discs, we can take the pressure off the nerves and give the patient relief from pain.”