Written by: Eric Chludzinski, DC
When astronauts go into a weightless environment, the discs in the spine begin to swell with fluid. Because the spine normally has a lot of weight on it, in anti-gravity there is a lack of compression on the spine. This causes the discs to decompress making the spine longer. The spinal cord and nerves do not stretch much and do not adapt well to this change in length of the spine.
As far as space travel and back pain, decompression for several days tends to be too much of a good thing. After a long trip in space, the astronaut can gain a few inches in height. This extreme stretch of the spinal column can cause a lot of back pain.
Bed rest also decompresses the spine. But bed rest for more than two days will actually increase low back pain. Besides lengthening the spine substantially, spinal muscles do not get much work while in a weightless environment.
With the use of a spinal decompression machine, the spine can be decompressed. Decompression is achieved by loading the spine in a way that counters the pull of your muscles. This loading causes decompression of the disc. This decompression can be enough to take pressure off of a nerve. In some patients, decompression treatment causes a negative pressure to develop inside of the disk. This negative pressure may then “draw in” the protruding disc material.
So space travel does not cure back pain, but the principles of spinal decompression can be applied here on earth. By decompressing the spine for a few minutes over several weeks, some of the gravity effects on the spine are reversed.
The disc may be moved away from a painful nerve while the vertebrae are separated during decompression. The decompression machine can also have the pull angled in such a way that the loading is applied to a particular spinal vertebra. In the patient with a herniated or bulging disc and back or leg pain, decompression treatment may be a solution. The therapy consists of the patient reclining on the table of a decompression machine while a computer controls and alternates between periods of distractive stretch and relaxation of the patient’s spine. As the decompression occurs the spine is gently pulled to elongate the spinal discs, muscle, tendons and ligaments to create relief of compression loading on these structures.
Patients with chronic lower back pain, sciatica, and disc conditions (i.e., disc bulge / herniation, degenerative disc disease, etc.) can greatly benefit from the relief of decompression. This will create a negative pressure for the spinal discs allowing the bulging discs to retract. This in turn, helps to promote the exchange of oxygen, water and nutrients back into the disc resulting in sustaining disc health, healing repair and lasting pain relief. The patient might now avoid invasive procedures such as injections or surgery.
When considering a remedy for a Degenerative Disc, Monmouth Pain & Rehabilitation should be your first stop. Our physicians come highly recommended by numerous physicians in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Feel free to contact us for a FREE consultation. If you are looking for faster service, give us a call at 732-345-1377. Just tell them that you read this article and you will receive our complimentary in-office evaluation (a $145 value).