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FAQ About Non-Surgical
Spinal Decompression

  1. What is the difference between Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy and traction? What about inversion therapy?
  2. Why hasn’t my surgeon or primary treating doctor recommended this?
  3. Is this Chiropractic?
  4. Does this hurt or can I become injured from the treatment? Are there any negative side effects?
  5. Is there a maximum age limit to go through this program?
  6. Can I continue to exercise while undergoing treatment?
  7. What causes the fluid to go out of the disc in the first place?
  8. After you vacuum back in the fluid, what keeps it from slipping back out when you get up and walk?
  9. When you decompress one disc does that cause any problems to the disc above or below?
  10. I have already had a Laminectomy and Micro Discectomy, can I still go through the treatment program?
  11. How long does it take to feel better?
  12. Will this affect my work?
  13. Can I drive after treatment or do I need a driver to come with me?
  14. Should I stop my prescription medication when I start treatment?
  15. Does my insurance cover the treatment?
  16. I went to another clinic but they did not do everything you guys do, what makes this facility so different?
  17. What type of tests do you do throughout my treatment program to monitor my progress?
  18. I do not have any pain, just numbness in my toes/fingers – can this help?
  19. When you say that you will see if I am a candidate for care, who are the people that are not candidates for care?

1. What is the difference between Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy and traction? What about inversion therapy?

Answer: Traction is a one dimensional, unilateral pull of the spine, not specifying any one segment. The downward intradiscal pressure when a person is standing is 100 mmHg of pressure. When generalized traction or inversion therapy is performed, the intradiscal pressure drops down to 40 mmHg of positive downward pressure. This is the point that muscle spasms can be relieved, however not enough to create transfer of fluid from outside of the disc back into the nucleus palposus or the center of the disc. Inversion therapy is just another form of generalized traction, pulling the ankles, the knees, the hips, the low back, the mid back and the neck, never creating enough of a decrease in the intradiscal space to allow for the transfer of the fluid outside of the disc back into the center of the disc.

With Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy, the intradiscal pressure goes down to a negative 160 mmHg creating the transfer of fluid from outside of the disc into the center of the disc, vacuuming back in the protrusions or herniations as well.

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2. Why hasn’t my surgeon or primary treating doctor recommended this?

Answer: It is not out of their lack of caring for you, it is most times their lack of knowledge about this procedure. Keep in mind the tools they are equipped with in medical school are medication, injections, and surgery. Their tool bag has little information about Non-Surgical attempts when treating disc injuries. The statistics speak for themselves however. Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is a real entity studied by the medical profession because of the high failure rate when performing spinal surgery. The non-surgical approach has far less complications for secondary permanent negative effects. Most good surgeons will always recommend exhausting all non-surgical procedures prior to entering into a surgical route to treat your spine pain. We get a great deal of referrals form Medical Doctors and Surgeons that are informed about what we do.

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3. Is this Chiropractic?

Answer: No not at all. The definition of Chiropractic is employing manipulation and adjustment of body structures, such as the spinal column, so that pressure on nerves coming from the spinal cord due to displacement of a vertebral body may be relieved. There is no manipulation of the spine or the treatment of displaced vertebrae in Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy. Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy is actually a medical procedure that was developed by a Neurologist by the name of Dr. Dryer. He first started with a table that was called a Vax-D which showed great results for the relief of pain and the increase of function. Later work was done by another Neurologist name Dr. Norman Shealey. Dr. Shealy developed an upright more user friendly version for the patient different than Dr. Dryer’s Vax-D, called the DRS, which stands for Distraction, Reduction, and Stabalization.

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4. Does this hurt or can I become injured from the treatment? Are there any negative side effects?

Answer: No not at all. There are multiple safety features that occur to prevent from any injury happening. We also check our patients very well to make sure they are a candidate for this treatment program and to further assure the patients opportunity for success. Most of our patients sleep throughout their treatment time. Many times we have to awaken them prior to taking them to their next therapy. It is comical at times because most offices have a difficult time getting their patients to keep their appointments, whereas our patients cannot wait for their appointments and usually show up early. They also do not want to leave and commonly ask us for more time on the tables. It is a good problem for us to have however, because how great a practice can you have when not only are your patients getting well, but they enjoy the process while it is occurring. Our treatment is very different from going for injections or surgery to say the least.

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5. Is there a maximum age limit to go through this program?

Answer: No there is not. We have had patients in their late 80s and early 90s that have done well, however there are certain conditions that make a patient unacceptable or not a candidate for care which we see more of in our very senior consultations. Safety of the patient and an attempt for good results are our primary goals.

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6. Can I continue to exercise while undergoing treatment?

Answer: Yes you may. We have had several professional athletes that have been treated in our facility while continuing their exercise programs necessary for their profession. What we do ask though is that you limit your lifting in an upright position. We say limit because we know it is virtually impossible to eliminate lifting all together. We teach that your spine is like a coil, and when you have a bad disc, it is like having a bad portion of that coil. When lifting in an upright position, you put greater pressure on that damaged coil. It is for this reason we recommend when going to the gym to do your lifting exercises, that you do them in a reclined or flat position so as not to put greater pressure on and already damaged disc.

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7. What causes the fluid to go out of the disc in the first place?

Answer: Fluid leaves the disc usually for one of three different reasons to include: time, injury, or a combination of the two. People who are more active and enjoy activities that require a great deal of downward pressure on the disc, such as football players, high jumpers, or power weight lifters, are more prone to disc injuries. We see them at a much younger age. Others, however, are also prone simply due to time and age. By age 55, 85% of the population suffers from degenerative disc disease or dry disc disease. Just the process of everyday walking, bending, or lifting eventually wears out the disc and the fluid is lost. Hence the diagnosis of dry disc disease being the same as degenerative disc disease.

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8. After you vacuum back in the fluid, what keeps it from slipping back out when you get up and walk?

Answer: The body is an amazing thing and it assists itself with a little help from us to maintain the fluid. During the process of bring the fluid back into the disc, the outer cartilage portion called the Annulus Fibrosis begins to adhere to itself thickening the outer layer and strengthening it. It is similar to adding cement to the outside of a leaky swimming pool to keep the pool water from coming back out. This thickening process takes time however, and it is dependant upon the individual patient and their response time. We have found that to reach maximum medial benefit, it takes somewhere between 20 and 35 visits. We also provide core muscle strengthening to our patients to further assure that their core muscles are also providing further stability to their spine.

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9. When you decompress one disc does that cause any problems to the disc above or below?

Answer: No, none at all. The computer on the Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression table is designed to create an angle of treatment that is specific to the one damaged disc we have targeted for care. The above or below discs are not put under any pressure and have no negative effects to them. To the contrary, it has been found in studies of spinal fusions, that when a segment is fused, the segments above and below have to take up the lost motion and they begin to degenerate because of their now excessive use. When we are re-hydrating a degenerative or dry disc, we are truly helping the discs above and below to have to work less now that the damaged disc is able to assist in motion becoming a working partner with the other discs.

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10. I have already had a Laminectomy and Micro Discectomy, can I still go through the treatment program?

Answer: Yes, at any given time in our practice, 15% to 20% of our patients have had what is called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome and have had a prior Laminectomy and/or Micro Discectomy that failed to decrease the patient’s pain and increase their function. This type of prior surgery does not preclude us from providing the care necessary to help the patient. As long as there is no spinal fusion, either bony or with metal, we can provide our care.

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11. How long does it take to feel better?

Answer: We always pride ourselves with the fact that we give the best answers to every question asked of us by our patients, and with this question, which is one of the more common questions asked of us, there is no answer. Every person is different from the next. With as many years as we have been doing this and with the thousands of patients we have seen, we have heard everything. We know it takes a minimum of 20 to 25 visits to provide enough hydration to make a change, and sometimes up to 35 visits. However with that said, each person perceives pain differently. We have seen patients that within the first 4 visits they were out of pain, and we have seen patients that on the 25 visit, it was like someone had thrown a switch and their pain went away. There is no rule that states the exact moment that will occur and the patient will be feeling much better, however with our very high success rate, most people will reach that level at some point, most earlier than later.

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12. Will this affect my work?

Answer: Most times the answer is no. Most of our patients continue their usual and customary duties of their employment while having to change nothing. If you are a person that is in extreme acute pain and have a career that requires heavy lifting, it may be in your best interest to try to be put on light duty while going through the treatment program. Many of our construction workers are unable to do that and we are still able to successfully treat them as well. Most of our patients have little trouble if any in going through with their program regardless of the type of work they do.

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13. Can I drive after treatment or do I need a driver to come with me?

Answer: Yes you will be able to drive. There is no medication or injections that are given to you during your course of care that would make your drowsy or unable to drive your car. The only thing you will feel is very relaxed and excited about finally being able to have the cause of your problem treated, not just the symptoms.

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14. Should I stop my prescription medication when I start treatment?

Answer: No you should not. We advise you to discuss your medication with your Physician and once you have started to have less pain and greater function, to ask your Physician to assist you with lessening your medication. You should always follow your Doctor’s prescription for your medication and never stop without his or her advice.

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15. Does my insurance cover the treatment?

Answer: With the number of different insurance companies and different plans that each insurance company has, it is impossible to make a statement that covers them all. We ask that on the day of your consultation you bring your insurance information. An insurance specialist will call and verify your insurance benefits and be able to let you know at that time what coverage there may be.

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16. I went to another clinic but they did not do everything you guys do, what makes this facility so different?

Answer: Many clinics for some reason feel they are smarter than the founder’s of this type of therapy, both of them being Neurologists. Here we are a group of very intelligent Doctors; however we do not want to recreate the wheel. We follow every aspect of what the founders call for in the treatment program. From the necessary pre-therapy treatments, to the amount of time and degree of angles necessary during the Non-Surgical Decompression Therapy portion of the treatment, to the post-therapy treatment, and all the way to the absolutely necessary core muscle therapy provided to our patients by a Doctor. To us it is like opening an expensive safe. You must hit every number correctly while turning the dial on the safe to the left and the right or the safe will not open. It is the same with our clinic. We know that not giving you the proper pre and post therapies with the times necessary, and to not use the finest of decompression tables available, and to not address your core muscle strengthening, only will result in not obtaining the results desired. Our clinic is different in that we do address every aspect of your care to give you the highest percentages possible of relieving your pain and increasing your function to allow you to enjoy the life you so very much deserve to enjoy.

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17. What type of tests do you do throughout my treatment program to monitor my progress?

Answer: During the full course of care at our clinic, we provide the highest level of continued testing demonstrating to you the progress we are making. We first perform weight bearing X-rays that are shown to you on a large 40” screen showing you each and every disc space. We then do periodic Orthopedic and Neurological testing and show you the improvement both in lessened pain and increase range of motion. We also do what is called a pre and post Neuro Scan. This is a test that shows us how fast a nerve impulse travels from the neck to the hand or from the low back to the feet. There is an initial or starting Neuro Scan that is performed within your first few visits, followed by an ending Neuro Scan demonstrating the benefits you have received and showing the increased speed at which the nerve impulse is traveling compared to the initial one that was performed at the beginning of care. All of this testing is done throughout your care so as to monitor any changes that we may have to make to assure as good an outcome as possible.

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18. I do not have any pain, just numbness in my toes/fingers – can this help?

Answer: Yes it can. Many patients do not experience pain and only have loss of sensation or even loss of motor function. If we determine that you are a candidate for care and that your numbness is coming from nerve root pressure due to a bulging or herniated disc, then yes this treatment utilizing Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy can work very well to increase sensation and increase function even in the absence of pain.

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19. When you say that you will see if I am a candidate for care, who are the people that are not candidates for care?

Answer: Even though most people are able to receive this type of care, there are a few exceptions. Patients who have severe Osteoporosis are not able to receive this treatment. If you do have Osteoporosis though, please allow us to check and see how severe it is because commonly it is not severe enough to preclude treatment. Women that are pregnant cannot receive this treatment. Anyone with above grade 2 Spondylolisthesis is not able to have this care. Please make sure you have one of our Doctors evaluate the degree of your Spondylolisthesis. Many times it is of a lesser degree and we are still able to treat you. Anyone with a descending Aortic graft is also not able to have our care. Patients that have bone cancer also are not able to have our care. More times than not however, we find that patients seldom fall into any of the above categories and are successful in getting care at our clinic.

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