To Decompress or Not to Decompress…
It shouldn’t even be a question!
Written By Dr. Troy Bruesewitz, DC
I’d like to begin this letter by stating that the words written below are an expression of my beliefs and opinions. What I have written is what I believe. My beliefs and opinions have been formulated as a result of my experience as a healthcare practitioner as well as from the education I have received in my quest to fully understand the human body. If anyone has any questions or concerns over what is written below; or if you have any questions regarding how decompression might be of benefit to you, please feel free to contact me at my office at 262-763-5800 and I would be happy to discuss them with you.
Decompression of the human spine is very beneficial to our health. Gravity has the single most harmful effect on the joints in our body and on the discs within our spine. Decompression is a means through which we can reduce the effects of gravity. In my practice I see the many negative effects that gravity places on the patients that I treat. I see the effects of gravity in our spines through X-ray films and MRI’s. The most common form of gravity-related stress I encounter is in the form of arthritis, specifically Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a devastating condition in the fact that it affects almost hundreds of millions of people…however; it is not at all the most acutely painful condition caused by the long term effects of gravity. The condition I am referring to is called a Herniated disc, and it is typically one of the most painful conditions a patient could ever experience.
Herniated discs are caused, in one way or another, by compression of the disc to the point that it structurally fails. The disc is made up of a tough outer ring of cartilage, called the Annulus that houses a centrally located Nucleus. The nucleus consists of a gel like substance that, not only acts as a shock absorber for our spine, but also as a source of nutrient storage/supply; this gel is supposed to stay contained within the outer ring of cartilage. When the disc gets compressed enough to cause structural failure and the gel gets squeezed out into your spinal canal it is termed a Herniated disc. Discs are analogous to the makeup of a jelly donut. The donut is the cartilage, while the jelly is the nucleus. If you were to seal up the hole on a jelly donut you would have a very good representation of a spinal disc. If you were to then compress that donut to the point that the jelly squirted out, you would then have a good representation of a herniated disc. Herniated discs have many aliases. Some of the more common terms are…slipped disc, ruptured disc, prolapsed disc, fractured disc, blown disc, and so on. The term for a disc that is still contained within the cartilage and has not yet broken through is said to be bulging.
Herniated discs are troublesome in the fact that they are very difficult to treat, and very often patients are referred for surgery. Patients who have herniated discs are in excruciating pain. If the herniated disc is located in their low back then they may experience pain in their low back, buttock, thigh, calf, ankle, foot or toes. If the affected disc is in the neck, then the pain would likely be either in the neck or shoulders, or down one or both arms, and possibly into the hand and fingers. Cervical disc herniations are often misdiagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Some patients will try anything and everything to try to alleviate their pain usually with unsatisfactory results. Most often, after attempting to reduce their pain through any means possible, they are referred for surgery. Some patients may find relief with surgery, though most would like to consider it only as a last option. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce the pressure that a disc is under, and the patient may experience relief from their treatment...but if you could actually apply 80-200 pounds of Negative Pressure (decompression), you would increase your chances of reducing the disc herniation significantly. Fortunately you live in a city where there are facilities equipped with disc decompression equipment. If you have tried other forms of treatment and are dissatisfied with your results, give decompression therapy a try...we’re confident you’ll be happy you did.
I have personally witnessed too many patients being treated with too many drugs (which only addresses the symptoms and not the cause) and surgery (which has a low success rate, possible complications and its irreversible). I decided when I opened my practice that purchasing a high quality spinal decompression unit was a must. The first patient I treated with decompression had a bulging disc in his neck that was causing him to have numbness and tingling down his entire right arm. He was referred to a neurologist by his MD. The neurologist told him he was not yet a candidate for surgery and told him to come back once the pain got to be too much to bear. He came in to my practice; I examined his MRI and started him on a treatment plan including disc decompression. He was soon symptom free and the problem has not returned since. His testimonial is hanging on the wall in our waiting room and is also located online at www.bruesewitzchiropractic.com. Since then I have successfully treated the majority (about 90-95%) of our patients with herniated discs that have come to our office seeking relief from their pain. I have testimonials from numerous patients who have experienced success with our decompression table even after trying ‘all of the above’.
Herniated discs are not the only discs to benefit from decompression. Degenerative discs are significantly improved with decompression as well. We have evidence of this in before-and-after X-rays where the discs that were severely degenerated nearly doubled in thickness from just one month of daily decompression therapy. This increase in thickness is mostly due to the discs becoming more hydrated and thus more nourished. A well nourished disc is likely to be a healthy disc. Healthy discs are a sign of a healthy spine. A healthy spine equates to a healthier you!
One other way to decompress your spine is through Inversion Therapy. Inversion Therapy is a great way to maintain your spine once you have gone through Decompression Therapy. One way or the other, reducing the stresses of gravity on your body is an important part of optimum health.