For the 31 million Americans who experience debilitating low-back pain at any given time, the intensity of their flare-ups is what determines the outcome of their day. For 45 percent of America’s workforce rendered unable to function normally by their neck pain, the viciousness of their episodes is what decides the number of lost work days, overall job performance, and hourly wages. In the United States, chronic pain affects an estimated 100 million people, costing the economy a whopping $635 billion annually in medical care services and lost productivity.
Much of this pain is caused by damage to the discs making up the vertebrae, which can no longer absorb the impact of the body’s activities due to poor biomechanics, genetics, sustained physical activity, stress, obesity, or injury. And much of it can be treated through flexion distraction – a safe, non-surgical chiropractic therapy that can provide partial or complete spinal pain relief in just under a month.
What Is Flexion Distraction?
Flexion distraction is a well-documented spinal manipulation technique used by trained chiropractic therapists to relieve pain caused by a host of disc-related and non—disc related health conditions, from pinched nerve and sciatica to pregnancy-related pain and post-surgery pain. For the last 50 years, chiropractors and osteopaths around the world have been referring to this technique as a safe and painless alternative to back surgery.
Its effectiveness in relieving chronic low-back pain has even been shown to exceed that of conventional treatment approaches such as physical therapy. The authors of a 2006 study observed the progress of 235 participants in a clinical trial who received either flexion distraction or physical therapy (exercise programs) for their chronic pain. One year after they received active care, the subjects were asked via mailed questionnaires to assess their levels of pain and dysfunction. Although both groups noticed a decrease in pain and disability, those who received flexion distraction therapy had considerably lower pain scores than those who were submitted to an exercise program.
How Does It Work?
Flexion distraction involves the use of a specially-designed table that distracts (stretches) and bends the spine at the same time in a cyclic motion. The gentle forces applied by the technician to the injured areas as the table continues its smooth movement place the spinal disc under negative pressure, allowing protruding disc material to be pulled back into its natural position and the healing process to begin. Through flexion distraction, the disc is moved away from the nerve, which automatically reduces inflammation, pain, numbness, and other symptoms associated with disc-related conditions.
A typical flexion distraction treatment that lasts for one month, with 5-minute therapy sessions three times a week, has the purpose of:
- Relieving spinal nerve irritation by reducing the pressure inside the spinal disc
- Improving blood circulation and nutrient exchange by reducing pressure on the spinal nerves
- Restoring spinal motion by placing the vertebral joints into natural, painless movements
- Increasing mobility and flexibility
- Improving posture and body functions
- Creating a general feeling of health and well-being
Who Is Flexion Distraction Addressed to?
Because it is a pain-free and even pleasant experience for patients, with no jerking movements at all, flexion distraction is an excellent choice for patients requiring a gentler approach, such as those suffering from painful conditions or the elderly. The spinal disorders that can benefit from this therapy include:
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Thoracic disc herniation
- Degenerative disc disease
- Cervical disc herniation
- Spinal stenosis
- Osteoarthritis of spine
- Whiplash injuries
- And many others
If you suffer from any of the above conditions or have any other spinal pain related disorders impacting your mood, your mental abilities, your social relationships, and your overall quality of life, it’s time to call your local chiropractor’s office and set an appointment right away. To help you regain muscular control and enhance support of the back and neck, your doctor may also recommend adjunctive therapies such as heat/cold therapy, ultrasound, and muscle stimulation.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.