Spinal compression is the impingement of the nerves surrounding the spinal canal or the spinal discs, resulting in a lack of blood supply to the nerves, ultimately resulting in numbness and pain. The pain is often observed as a shooting or radiating pain. Depending upon the intensity of the impingement, numbness and pain maybe acute or chronic. Spinal compression is possible due to a slipped disc, a disc bulge, a hernia, or even a combination of one or more of these factors. The compression may occur anywhere in the spine, be it lumbar, cervical or thoracic. However, the most common cases are of lumbar and cervical compression. Prolonged inattention to spinal compression might render the nerve dead, resulting in permanent loss of the movement in that area.
Most sufferers do not even know that they are experiencing spinal compression, as the impact is either felt in the legs/thighs or the hands. Radiating pain or shooting pain is never felt anywhere near the spine, and so diagnosis forms the key and first step towards the therapy. There have been instances when x-rays or MRI scans have been taken at the last minute, and the patients’ legs have been saved from amputation at the11th hour. Improper diagnosis can indeed prove fatal.
Surgery is not the only option. More often than not, it is the worst treatment to opt for. The scar tissue left after the operation is profound, and rehab involves lot of time, dedication, and rest which can be mentally grueling. Surgeries for spinal decompression have chances of leading to discitis, a condition where the entire disc bulges, spreading to the nearby discs, and sometimes resulting in death. Though incidents of discitis are rare, rehab can be an extremely long process if affected.
Spinal decompression therapy involves increasing the flow of blood to the compressed area, providing a fresh oxygen supply, and thereby allowing the compression to heal itself. A variety of techniques are adopted:
• Acupressure and Acupuncture – stimulating the blood supply by pinching the corresponding points in the hands and legs.
• Ayurveda – spinal massages to stimulate the blood flow. Attempts to increase the space between the disc and the nerve by massage.
There is no instant relief for spinal compression. Most compression occurs due to lifestyle, such as improper ergonomics, and requires time and effort to heal. Treatment is effective only if lifestyle changes are made to suit the needs of the body. Some people who opt for traction or yoga experience relief report back in a few months citing pain. This is most likely due to falling back into the same old habits.
Spinal decompression therapy is not painful. Many people expect the treatment to be painful and try to avoid it. In fact, people have reported the treatment to be highly relaxing and many doze during the therapy. Thus, in an era where drugs and surgeries form the heart of treatment, spinal decompression is a unique therapy that focuses on applying the right pressure at the precise point, resulting in faster recovery with no side effects.