Spinal Decompression with Traction vs Inversion Tables

spinal decompression therapy

Does Spinal Decompression Therapy Improve Your Health?


Experiencing neck and back pain is never fun, whether it’s from overdoing it in the gym, injuring yourself or from a long-term chronic issue.  However it occurred, spinal decompression therapy may be the right solution to relieve your back pain.

Of course, when it comes to any kind of spinal injury, it is always best to seek professional guidance with a Victoria BC chiropractor so you don’t risk further injuring yourself. 

The use of motorized spinal decompression or traction tables has grown in popularity as a way to provide spinal decompression therapy and are frequently used by professionals.

Amongst those who prefer to treat themselves at home, inversion tables are also commonly used. However, while both traction and inversion therapies are designed to decompress the spine and relieve neck and back pain, they’re far more different than you may think.

What is Spinal Decompression or Traction Therapy?

Spinal decompression therapy with traction involves the use of a unique, motorized traction table.

These computer enhanced traction tables are controlled through specialized equipment which programs the table to move with precise calculations.

Using these calculations, the traction table provides the appropriate amount of force and timing needed for each treatment session. 

This spinal traction procedure is non-invasive and non-surgical. So the patient can lie down and relax in a comfortable position. 

How does Spinal Decompression on a Traction Table Work?

At the beginning of each treatment session, you will be comfortably fitted with a special harness designed to achieve optimal decompression of the neck and/or back. Then, the professional will begin a specific combination of pulling, slowly relieving pressure in the discs of your spinal cord. 

This reversal of pressure creates a vacuum inside the disc that helps to draw bulging discs and extruded disc material back into place, effectively taking pressure off pinched or irritated nerves. 

One major benefit of a traction table is that your doctor may be able to target a specific disc that is causing you pain. 

What is Inversion Therapy?

Inversion tables are used to create decompression in the spine by tipping you upside down.

This treatment is typically used by people with lower back pain as it uses your own body weight and gravity to stretch your spine to a certain degree. 

In theory, inversion therapy should reverse the negative effects of gravity by pulling every joint in your body. 

However, since inversion tables rely on gravity alone, you won’t be able to regulate how much force is exerted on your body. 

While it may feel more convenient to treat yourself at home with an inversion table, any relief you receive may be short-lived and this treatment cannot target a specific disc or area of pain. 

Benefits of Spinal Decompression Therapy

With spinal decompression therapy, a chiropractor can apply the necessary negative pressure that may relieve pain and help promote healing. 

Unlike using an inversion table, using a motorized traction table can pinpoint the specific area or disc(s) that is causing you pain. 

During a session of spinal decompression, you’ll experience a slow lengthening of your spine. While this happens, your discs are gradually decompressed and relieved of pressure.

Spinal decompression therapy may help in the treatment of:

It may also help promote the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the discs so they heal more effectively. 

A patient safety switch feature allows you to stop at any point you may feel discomfort so you can have control over your treatment.

Treatment is expedient – one session on a traction table may only last 30-45 minutes. The total number of sessions you will need will depend on the extent of your injury. 

Guidance from a spine care professional using a treatment plan will provide superior treatment for a successful healing process.

Risks of Using Inversion Therapy

An inversion table is not made for any specific kind of treatment. That means it can’t create the necessary negative pressure to relieve a disc effectively. 

To achieve longer-lasting results from inversion therapy, you would need to remain upside-down for 15-20 minutes a day. Staying in a head down position for that amount of time may be risky for people with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Glaucoma
  • People with joint problems in the lower extremity

This is because when you are inverted for more than a couple of minutes, your heartbeat slows down, which may cause extra blood pressure in your eyes and ears. 

Without professional oversight, you may overdo the amount of time you spend on an inversion table. This could result in muscle spasms and damage to the neck and back. It may also cause further injury and pain to arthritic joints. 

Under the guidance of a professional chiropractor, there are times when inversion therapy can be helpful as a part of a more comprehensive treatment plan for lower back pain.

Your chiropractor will be able to assess whether an inversion table is right for you. 

Which Spinal Decompression Therapy Should You Choose?

The answer to that question depends on whether you need generalized therapy rather than targeted therapy.

Spinal decompression or traction can target a specific areas of the body and discs that are causing you pain to promote faster healing, instead of stretching your whole body.

Inversion tables are unable to target a specific injury. Using a motorized traction table can. 

Although inversion therapy has its uses, staying upside down for too long can exacerbate existing health problems. On the other hand, you can stay on traction tables long enough to receive effective treatment for spinal decompression therapy. 

Who Shouldn’t Have Spinal Decompression Therapy?

People with these conditions should seek alternatives to spinal decompression therapy:

  • Fracture
  • Tumor
  • Hernia
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Advanced osteoporosis
  • Metal implants in the spine
  • Heart disease
  • Joint problems in the lower extremity

When it comes to your health – and more specifically your neck and back – it’s best to consult a professional chiropractor to find the best options available. 

Achieve the best results by following our full treatment plans, including lifestyle changes. 

Contact Mind Body Spine today for more information about spinal decompression therapy, learning more about exercise plans, expert nutritional counselling, and so much more.