Spinal Decompression Therapy: How It Works and Who It Helps | Surrey Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic

Spinal Decompression: How It Works and Who It Helps

Do you suffer from chronic back pain? Are you looking for a non-surgical solution to your problem? If so, spinal decompression therapy may be the answer you’re looking for. In this blog post, we will look at what spinal decompression is, how it works, and what spinal conditions it can help. Please keep reading to learn more.

What Is Spinal Decompression?

Spinal decompression is a type of traction therapy that is typically used to treat herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, spondylolisthesis (grade 1 and 2), facet joint impingement, osteoarthritis and chronic back pain. Spinal Decompression therapy involves gradually elongating the spine using a comfortable and supportive mechanical device. This stretch relieves pressure on the spine, discs and nerves which in turn reduces pain. 

Spinal decompression has proven to be an effective way to reduce pain without pharmacological interventions or surgery. This makes Spinal Decompression a favorable option for many people looking for long-term relief from back pain. In addition to providing relief from both acute and chronic back pain, spinal decompression also prevents the recurrence of back pain.  The components of back health that will benefit from spinal decompression include postural alignment, core muscle strength, increased joint mobility & muscle flexibility, which all serve to improve spinal health in the long term.

How Does Spinal Decompression Therapy Work? 

Spinal decompression therapy is typically done using a computer-controlled machine. The patient lies on a table, and the machine gently stretches the spine. The therapist will gradually increase the amount of stretch over the course of treatment. A typical treatment session lasts 15-30 minutes. Most patients require 10-12 sessions over 6 weeks to see results. 

During spinal decompression therapy, patients lie on a comfortable electronic bed with a computerized machine that applies controlled adjustable pressure to specific areas of the spine. This helps to reduce tension in those areas and creates space between vertebrae or damaged spinal discs to heal. After setting up the machine and patient position the machine begins to gradually increase the applied pressure or “distraction”. This stretching action causes a negative pressure within the targeted disc space, helping the disc heal over time by decreasing pain and inflammation and improving mobility. Spinal compression has a high level of success as a single treatment modality for lower back pain sufferers. Spinal decompression therapy can be paired with massage or acupuncture/IMS sessions for maximum relief. Kinesiology (exercise rehabilitation) can also play an important role in regaining and maintaining good function, and by preventing a recurrence of injury. With focused planning coupled with careful treatment and monitoring by a physiotherapist, as well as lifestyle education, many patients report substantial improvement after just a few sessions of spinal decompression therapy. ­­

Who can benefit from Spinal Decompression Help?  

Spinal decompression can help people with herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, osteoarthritis, spondylolisthesis, and other conditions that cause chronic back pain. Primarily used to relieve symptoms caused by herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and sciatica, this form of physical therapy works to alleviate compression on the spine and reduce tension in the surrounding muscles and ligaments. It may also be beneficial for improving circulation throughout your back as well as increasing flexibility and range of motion. Spinal decompression is safe for almost all patients, but those with serious medical conditions should consult with their doctor prior to undergoing any treatments. Most people notice positive results after just a few sessions, with even greater improvements over time. In some cases, spinal decompression can potentially help you avoid more invasive forms of treatment down the line. To get the most out of spinal decompression therapy, it’s important to follow your treatment plan and attend all sessions as prescribed. With the completion of a spinal decompression treatment plan, you may find that chronic pain associated with chronic spinal conditions becomes much more manageable.

Benefits of Spinal Decompression Therapy 

Benefits include improved circulation of nutrients to the spine, increased flexibility of the joints, improved posture and reduced nerve root compression, resulting in less nerve damage and pain. Often, spinal decompression therapy can effectively alleviate symptoms so that additional surgical treatments are not necessary. In addition, due to its non-invasive nature compared to surgery, spinal decompression therapy typically has short recovery times with minimal after-effects. However, it is important to speak with one’s doctor and physiotherapist before beginning this type of therapy as it may not be the right solution for everyone’s condition. For people looking for an effective yet gentle way to treat chronic back pain without having to undergo invasive surgery, spinal decompression therapy may provide the solution for you. With positive progressive recovery and minimal side effects, patients may experience long-lasting relief from their painful symptoms. 


If you’re living with chronic back pain, spinal decompression therapy may be able to help. This type of traction therapy gently stretches the spine, relieving pressure on the discs and reducing pain. To learn more about how spinal decompression works or to find out if it’s right for you, be sure to talk to your physiotherapist, doctor or spine specialist today.

Looking for Spinal Decompression Therapy in Surrey?

If you suffer from chronic back pain, our experienced team at Surrey Hwy 10 Physiotherapy & Massage Clinic (Surrey BC) can help. We specialize in treating herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, osteoarthritis, spondylolisthesis, and other conditions. Give us a call or get in touch through our contact form.


What does spinal decompression do?

Spinal decompression is a non-surgical therapy that uses distracting forces to help relieve back pain and leg pain. The treatment works by gently stretching the spine, which reduces the pressure off the discs and facet joints that have become compressed due to age, structural changes or injury. By relieving this compression, spinal decompression creates a vacuum effect that promotes the influx of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluid into the intervertebral disc space to aid in the healing process.

Is it good to decompress your spine?

Spinal decompression is a safe form of treatment for many conditions of the back. There are some conditions in the spine that are contraindicated such as malignancy of the spine, surgical hardware, fractures and pregnancy. Spinal decompression therapy improves blood flow to the spine, relieves pressure on the pain-sensitive structures and improves the rate and quality of healing of the damaged structures. 

How many sessions of spinal decompression would I need to complete, in order to feel some improvement? 

Depending upon the patient’s condition and overall health, it may take anywhere from 10-12 visits over 6 weeks to feel positive results. A single session typically lasts about 30 minutes of comprehensive treatment, and a patient will likely be asked to attend 2 sessions per week over a period of 5-6 weeks.

What can you not do after spinal decompression?

Walking is a good and safe form of exercise to keep you active. You should refrain from sitting in a slouched posture or on soft surfaces without back support, and avoid heavy lifting, combined with twisting. Make sure not to bend the spine excessively and try to keep your back in the mid-line(neutral) position when performing daily activities. 

About Howard Morris Reg. P.T

Howard | Surrey Hwy 10 Physiotherapy and Sport Injury Clinic

Howard Morris is a registered physiotherapist with the Allied Physiotherapy Health Group. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, progressive exercise therapy, manual therapy, muscle trigger point release and muscle energy techniques to restore full function.  His treatment philosophy involves providing his patients with the know-how to self-manage their injuries.  He aims to provide his patients with quality treatment and care that exceeds expectations.