Compression in the spine is a common cause of pain for patients of any age. That compression can be the result of a bone spur that is causing inflammation, from the natural degeneration and narrowing of our spinal canal, or because a disc shifted and upset a nearby group of nerves. It can also be caused by the onset of a spinal tumor (although these may require more hands-on treatment than what we suggest for other causes of compression below). Unless the compression is life-threatening, most spine specialists suggest some conservative care techniques for decompressing the area. Below, we look at some non-surgical ways to help decompress your spine.
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression
Before you dive into these techniques, it’s important that you get a diagnosis from a spine specialist so you know exactly what’s causing your compression. Treating the wrong root cause of compression can lead to inability to find relief and even a worsening of symptoms, so always know what you’re dealing with before beginning a treatment regimen.
1. Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is a great way to help calm inflammation and shift spinal discs back into their correct location, which can take pressure off nearby nerves. Your physical therapist will develop a routine that strengthens your spine, your core and any spinal structures that support your spinal column, but they’ll also talk you through the importance of posture awareness and self-correction. Many times we unknowingly stress our spines by having poor posture throughout the day, so by giving you the physical exercises and the knowledge of how your biomechanics contribute to spinal compression, you’ll have all you need to help combat spinal compression on your own.
2. Exercise – Another great way to combat spinal compression is through daily exercise. We know that it can be hard to stay active if compression is causing discomfort, but exercise helps to strengthen supportive spinal structures and naturally alleviate inflammation in the area. Controlled, low-impact exercises like lap swimming or walking can be great ways to control compressed spinal nerves caused by inflammation.
3. Yoga – Yoga is another wonderful way to help decompress your spine. Yoga combines stretching techniques and range of motion exercises to increase flexibility and strengthen targeted areas. Yoga has also been shown to increase blood flow throughout the body, which helps resolve inflammation-based compression. Studies have shown that semi-weekly participation in yoga routines, either in a yoga studio or on your own, can help reduce spinal pain caused by compression.
4. Specialist Intervention – A final way in which you can find relief from compression-related pain is by developing an individualized care plan with the assistance of Dr. Chang or your spine care provider. It may involve a combination of the above techniques, or it could involve other interventions like over-the-counter medications, prescription anti-inflammatories, corticosteroid injections or a minimally-invasive decompression operation to remove bone spurs, a tumor, or debride a degenerative disc. Working closely with a physician who can see your specific decompression and develop a personalized care plan can help when other intervention strategies fall short.
So if you’ve been bothered by compression-related spine pain, or you just want to get to the bottom of your back discomfort, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.