Spinal Decompression For Sciatica

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37 Comments

  • dean kipp

    Reply Reply September 5, 2012

    i have lower lumbar problems that are causing painfull sciatica down the back of my legs beyond my knees. i’ve had physical therapists work with me and chiropracters as well. results are minimal. therapists and chiropracters are recommending a epidural injection. i’ve talked to many people that alleviated their back pain using a inversion table that they either purchased online or at dicks sporting goods (teeter hangups nxt.s or fitness gear 5205). they all went the same route as me. being that i haven’t had xrays or a mri done yet (i have no health insurance), i really don’t feel comfortable with the “professionals” diagnosis. if inversion tables are properly used, i would greatly appreciate your input as to whether they might classify as one of your “home traction devices” . also if you prefer a different brand/model, i would appreciate your suggestion.
    thank you for your courtesies, dean kipp

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply September 5, 2012

      Hello Dean,

      Inversion tables can work very well for some people, but depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms, inversion could make things worse. I recommend inversion more for prevention after the major symptoms are gone rather than for treating active symptoms, but some people get pain relief from it as well. If you want to try it, my advice is to proceed very carefully – start with just a minute or so on the least amount of decline and do that a few times before gradually increasing time or angle (increase time or angle one at a time, never both at the same time). If you do wind up purchasing one, Teeter is the brand I recommend.

      From what you’ve said, it sounds like this problem has been going on for some time. Because of that, my recommendation before buying an inversion table is to first invest in an MRI (don’t bother with Xrays, the MRI will show everything the Xrays will and a lot more). That should give a much better indication of what the problem is and what the best treatment options are. If you call around to the MRI centers in your area and ask for the cash (payment at time of service) price for an MRI, you can probably find one to do it for $400 to $500 (possibly less, depending on the area) rather than the $1000 plus they quote as their normal price. One of your chiropractors can order the MRI once you figure out who has the best deal (you may be able to save yourself the calling around by just asking the chiropractor if they know what imaging center has the best cash price).

      Good luck!

      Dr. Best

  • Howard Huie

    Reply Reply March 11, 2013

    At 4:22 in this video, you should change “sick” into “stick”.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply March 11, 2013

      Thanks for pointing out the typo. It’s far easier said than done to correct a video, but I’ll add it to the list of revisions to be made for the next time I update.

      Dr. Best

  • Hector

    Reply Reply April 2, 2013

    Thanks Doc, since finding your site I’ve been pain free with the streches and advice from you, I can’t thank you enough……..no more pills.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply April 2, 2013

      You’re welcome, Hector. I’m glad you’re doing better.

      Dr. Best

  • ANIL LALANI

    Reply Reply May 6, 2013

    Thank you Dr. George, I’m really finding your Videos very helpful as I’m pursuing my graduation in Physical Therapy, here in India. I’ll surely get in touch with you for any clarifications and treatment plan for any problem I personally or my Patients experiences for better results…Thank you once again for sharing these videos and knowledge of yours.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply May 6, 2013

      You’re welcome! Good luck with your studies!

  • brigid sackey

    Reply Reply July 26, 2013

    what can ease the painful pulling sensation I get when walking. I have had lumbar stenosis for over 25 years.Thanks.
    Brigid

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply July 27, 2013

      Depending on the causes and severity of the stenosis, there may or may not be much you can do with self-treatment measures. Spinal stenosis means that the canal that the spinal cord passes through is narrower than normal. There can also be stenosis of the canals where the spinal nerves exit the spine which is called intervertebral or foraminal stenosis and this can occur with or without spinal stenosis and may be called spinal stenosis even thought this is technically not the correct terminology. Stenosis can be congenital (born with it), due to degenerative bone and ligament thickening, due to disc protrusion, and occasionally due to cysts or other masses. As I said, depending on what the cause of your stenosis is and how severe it is, there may or may not be any self treatment that will help and it is difficult to say what would help without having more specific information about your condition. If you have X-ray and/or MRI findings to send me, I can try to give you a better answer.

      Dr. Best

  • Mark McClure

    Reply Reply August 8, 2013

    Just finished watching the Spinal Decompression For Sciatica video and wanted to know if you have found Inversion Tables to help decompress discs? I just ordered one and from reading the reviews it seemed to help everyone that purchased it. I have a minor bulging disc that is causing sciatica in my right leg and wanted your thoughts.

    Thank you,
    Mark

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply August 8, 2013

      While inversion is often helpful for relieving general back pain, it doesn’t really decompress the discs substantially in most cases (there is some reduction intradiscal pressure with inversion but it doesn’t even come close to producing negative pressure in the discs like decompression systems can). Inversion does stretch muscles, ligaments, and joint structures and will often reduce back pain and stiffness. In the case of acute disc-related symptoms including sciatica, inversion should be used with caution because it can trigger or worsen muscle spasm in the low back and increase symptoms in some situations. For this reason, I recommend it more as a preventive therapy to be used when there are no major symptoms, but some people do find it effective for pain relief as well. It tends to work better with milder disc bulges, so there’s a decent chance it will work well in your case.

      Dr. Best

  • Charlotte

    Reply Reply September 9, 2013

    What types of facilites have the decopression and traction facilities? What kind of health professionals are trained in the use of these techniques? Chiropracters? Physical Therapists? Would there be any yoga positions that might produce tractioin?

    Again, thank you for your educational videos. I am learning so much.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply September 9, 2013

      Decompression and traction are offered by some chiropractors, physical therapists, and physical medicine doctors and all of these types of providers have training in this type of treatment. While yoga can be beneficial, it is helpful by means of stretching tightened muscles and soft tissues and strengthening core stabilization muscles, not by any traction or decompression effect.

      Dr. Best

  • helen dempsey

    Reply Reply September 29, 2013

    Is a MRI better than a Cat Scan to determine the problem and what the best treatment would be?

    Thanks Dr. Best
    Helen

    P.S. I was on 500mgs of naproxen and broke out in hives. I am also taking Flexeril. Or is it from both medications. I am so afraid to take any meds. because of this outbreak!

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply September 30, 2013

      Hello Helen,

      MRI is generally better, but there are cases where it cannot be used due to metallic implants (the strong magnetic field causes heating of the metal and can even displace metallic screws, plates, etc. from prior surgeries), in which case CT is the next best thing.

      Dr. Best

  • helen dempsey

    Reply Reply September 30, 2013

    I really would like your opinion. I was taking naproxen and flexeril for sciatica pain. Is it possible to break out in a rash only on the face, swollen under the eyes almost like hives? Then had sores on my tongue.

    Thanks
    Helen Dempsey

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply September 30, 2013

      Almost any reaction to medication is possible. Allergic reactions sometimes start as localized rashes/hives/swelling in one area and then can gradually spread to other areas.

      Dr. Best

  • helen dempsey

    Reply Reply September 30, 2013

    Dr. Best,
    Yes here I am again.I have to go to a neurologist, because my primary doctor wants to take some tests to see if my condition is neuropathy. My pain is getting worse and I am only taking ibuprofen. Applying ice. Sometimes my calf becomes numb, no feeling at all.
    I am the one that mentioned the medicines I was taking naproxen and flexeril gave me a rash like hives.
    I respect your opinions.
    Thanks
    Helen

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply October 1, 2013

      Hello Helen,

      I would suggest asking your doctor about having an MRI first before you see a neurologist if it has not already been done. You most likely do have neuropathy or radiculopathy, but the question is what’s causing it (disc herniations and spinal degeneration can cause it, as can diabetes, as can vascular issues, etc.). The neurologist is likely to perform neurodiagnostic tests and will probably order an MRI anyway, so you’ll wind up needing to see him or her for an extra visit. If you have the MRI already done and the results available when you go in, the neurologist will have a lot more to go on your initial visit and will likely be able to provide a better initial diagnosis and make recommendations for treatment without a delay waiting for the MRI appointment and then the follow-up appointment with the neurologist.

      Dr. Best

  • helen dempsey

    Reply Reply October 10, 2013

    Dr. Best,
    am I correct in saying that you can have neuropathy also in the legs. Also from the hip down to the foot?
    I had some tests done, I do not know the name of the test, but they put suction cups on my chest and under my left rib and you cannot move till the test is done.Also had a balance test. I was told that these tests will show if it is neuropathy. If so then I will get a MRI and then go to a neurologist. Is this the way to go?
    Thanks
    Helen Dempsey

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply October 12, 2013

      Hello Helen,

      Neuropathy can effect the legs, but neither of the tests you described would be diagnostic of the nerves that supply the legs. Neuropathy is the technical term for damage to a nerve. There are many nerves in the body and while there are what are called “polyneuropathies” that effect many nerves at the same time, the tests your doctor ordered still would not be the top choices for diagnosing that sort of condition. In the case of the legs, the nerves arise from the lower spine. While a balance test would give information about the nerves in the head that are involved in balance, it would not give any information at all as to whether there was neuropathy in the nerves that supply the legs. The other test you described sounds like an EKG, which is a test of the electrical rhythms of the heart. This is more of a test of the heart itself, but it could give an indication of neuropathy effecting the nerve supply to the heart. I’m not sure if you had some other symptoms you haven’t mentioned to me that would lead your doctor to order those particular tests, but they don’t have anything to do with trying to diagnose the symptoms in your legs.

      Regardless of the outcome of those tests, wit regards to your continued leg symptoms,my advice would be to have a lumbar MRI and to see a neurologist to have the issues diagnosed.

      Good luck!

      Dr. Best

  • helen dempsey

    Reply Reply October 12, 2013

    Thank you very much for your advice and opinion about neuropathy. I am going to have an MRI.etc to really find out what the problem is. Unfortunately, I go for a followup this coming Thursday, so I have to wait for my doctor to order the MRI.
    I told my doctor everything I mentioned to you. Pain in my left butt, running down to my foot, pins and needles.etc.It does sound like sciatica, but I want to get more info on my condition.I am still doing ice and ibuprofen and moist heat. It helps but not enough.

    Thank you so much for your help.
    Helen

  • Anil

    Reply Reply October 20, 2013

    Hello

    My name is Anil i have sciatica. I did an MRI that shows L4,L5 together with little or no space and causes alot of pain in my left leg. Can this be treated and healed?

    Regards
    Anil
    Trinidad and Tobago

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply October 20, 2013

      Hello Anil,

      What you described is known as degenerative disc disease. While there isn’t a way to regenerate the discs and increase the space between the vertebrae, it is usually possible to get rid of the symptoms and manage the problem so that you don’t have a lot of pain. Since inflammatory swelling is often a big cause of the symptoms in such cases, one of the most important things to do is to try to decrease inflammation. There are of course medications or even steroid injections for this, but you may be able to get good results using cold packs on the lower back for about 15 minutes at a time up to every two hours you are awake. There are also natural anti-inflammatories such as fish oil and turmeric that for some people work as well if not better than medication. Some people will get benefit from exercises such as those in my ebook (if you don’t already have it, you may download from the link on the right sidebar of ). For cases like yours where degeneration and disc narrowing are the main problems as opposed to disc protrusion, the flexion (forward bending) position usually works best. Finally, spinal decompression or traction, either in a clinical setting or with a home traction or inversion unit is often helpful.

      There are situations that are too advanced for conservative treatment, so if all else fails, I would suggest you look into minimally invasive surgery which involves going through small incisions using a scope and trimming away the bone and other tissue that is narrowing the nerve canals. While no surgery is ideal, this type usually works quite well in cases of disc degeneration and most people are able to return to normal activities within a week or so.

      Good luck!

      Dr. Best

  • Vidhu

    Reply Reply November 28, 2013

    My wife age 64 has got sciatica attack four months back & has developed bulge on left side with sever pain.though she is on medication but still gets pain while working standing.she has been ac
    Devices complete bed rest but practically not possible.medication has reduced bulge to a great degree but not completely.X-ray has shown nerve compression.she has been put on medication consisting Calsium,vit D3,vit K,pain killer,nerve strenghting tabs.do u suggest traction can do good to her.we r India based & at a place where sophisticated machine is not available.what is ur advice.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply November 29, 2013

      Hello,

      Traction might be helpful. I would also suggest trying the self-treatment methods in my ebook, including the exercises as well as the use of cold packs to reduce inflammation. If you do not already have it, it can be downloaded from the link on the right sidebar of this page (the other information on this page may be helpful as well):

      http://www.sciaticatreatmentathome.com/sciatica-treatment-exercises/

      I disagree with the advice of complete bed rest. While it may be necessary for a few days in situations where there is extreme pain, bed rest is usually not very helpful for recovering from sciatica or back pain. It is generally much better to stay at least somewhat active, although heavy exertion should be avoided. Walking, if even just for short distances at first, will often help speed up the recovery process.

      Good luck!

      Dr. Best

  • Richard

    Reply Reply January 9, 2015

    I have watched many if not all of your videos. Do I conclude correctly that there is truly no cure for severe sciatia? I’ve had a thorough series of spinal epidurals of variable types prior to the most recent nerve RF lesioning procedure. Early in the epidural series I had open incision L5-S1 determination if bone growth was the culprit for pressure on the nerve(s), and after that a nerve block injection procedure. All such work was done by a neurosurgeon of high repute. Two MRIs were made, one before procedures and one before the RF lesionong.

    None have given relief. The pains are significant in my big toe, foot, lower half of the leg below the knee, hip, and lower back.

    My question is, can an earlier surgery to put semi-rigid spacers for the lower three spinal discs, plus appropriate removal of related bone segments, result in adhesions such that they could cause sciatica? Infections have been ruled out? That procedure has never given me any problems.

    The most current prognosis by the neurosurgeon is, pain management. But that appears to me to be treating symptoms and not in any way a cure. And from your commentary, even that is of little or no worthy solution.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply January 10, 2015

      Hello Richard,

      I think you may have somewhat misunderstood the point I was trying to make in my videos. That is that the underlying causes of sciatica often remain even when the symptoms are gone and to neglect the spine after symptom resolution invites a return of the symptoms. I was trying to get across the idea that prevention is key to avoiding a return and probable worsening of the symptoms and that a period of symptom relief should not be mistaken for a once and for all “cure”.

      That being said, your situation seems a bit different from most with nerve compression sciatica. The fact that RF lesioning has not reduced your pain leads me to question whether your pain is actually due to nerve compression at all, at least at the spine. It is possible that the RF didn’t quite go far enough, but even then I’d expect there to be some change even if it did not totally relieve the symptoms. I can’t rule out nerve compression altogether, but it seems strange to me that neither epiduras nor RF had made any difference and from what you’ve said, they haven’t been able to identify any particular source of nerve compression in your spine. In your case, I would suggest investigating the possible contribution of myofascial (meaning muscle and fascia – which is the connective tissue covering on muscles, organs, and other soft tissues) causes for your symptoms. Pain from myofascial sources can be just as severe as from nerve compression and often go undiagnosed by medical physicians. I’m not sure why myofascial pain is largely ignored by the medical profession since the pioneering work was done by medical doctors, but it is an area of pain treatment that is mostly in the realm of chiropractors, massage therapists, and other “body workers”. My suggestion is to get an evaluation with a chiropractor or massage therapist experienced with myofascial (pronounced my-o-fash-all) pain and if this seems to be a factor, to try a few deep tissue / myofascial release treatments to see if they help. I will warn you that initially such treatments could make your symptoms worse for a few days, but in the long run it is usually very helpful if myofascial issues are to blame. It’s relatively unusual but I have seen a few cases where joint dysfunction in the lumbosacral and/or sacroiliac articulations will cause the type of symptom pattern you have (at least that is my assumption since chiropractic adjustment of the involved joints brought about immediate and complete relief after weeks or months of numerous other forms of treatment failed). Again, this is unusual, but definitely worth checking into.

      The other potential issue that comes to mind is that it is possible for the sciatic nerve components to get impinged at the knee, most commonly by an arthritic swelling at the back of the knee joint called a Baker’s cyst (or popliteal cyst). This is often the culprit when the most pronounced sciatica symptoms are below the knee as opposed to running from the buttock through the back of the thigh, and then below the knee to the ankle and foot. You have more symptoms up higher than the handful of “knee” sciatica cases I’ve seen, but with your history of the prior surgery, some hip and low back pain as a separate issue would not be too surprising. Speaking of the prior surgery, although adhesion development is possible, I’d still expect RF to have provided some relief if adhesions on the nerve structures near the spine were involved, so I don’t think that’s the issue.

      One last thing that is worth trying is acupuncture, especially in cases like yours where an obvious structural cause for the symptoms is not found.

      I hope this is helpful for you and I wish you good luck!

      Dr. Best

  • Abba Aminu Inuwa

    Reply Reply June 15, 2015

    My comment is a complain of an undelivered order i placed on your book since January 2015 but has not been delivered till todate. Why does this happens when placing an order on your book because i have seen somebody similarly complaining. Pleas, do what is necessary. Waiting for your reply.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply June 15, 2015

      If you are referring to the print version of the book that is available on Amazon and other online retailers, I have no access to specific order information, nor any control over delivery for anything ordered from another website. If you have ordered from any website other than mine, you will need to contact the retailer to inquire about your order. If you’re not sure how to trace your order, let me know what retailer you purchased from and I can probably guide you on how to track your order. If you paid for a membership to this site (which, other than the free ebook, is the only thing you can order from this site), please contact me with your order number as I do not show anything in my database for your name nor email address.

      Dr. Best

  • Hendra

    Reply Reply January 13, 2016

    I am 53 years old. I have back and sciatica problem. I joint AIKIDO exercise 3 years ago and do twice a week. I thought it is very challenging for me to do this. When I do the Aikido exercise, I never have problem with my back. Because I do it slowly and carefully. I do not want to push the movement that I am comfortable with. So I do it slowly over the time until I think I can do it

    I had discuss with the doctor re my problem and he mentioned that I still could continue the exercise. I do light stretching like in the video at least 3 – 4 times a week in the morning too.

    Lately, I sometimes feel hurt in my hips, on and off. What kind of stretching I actually should do to reduce it ?

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply January 14, 2016

      Hello Hendra,

      Since you haven’t provided any information about any diagnostic tests or what doctors may have told you is the cause of the hip pain, I can’t tell you very much. There are many potential causes for hip pain, and there would be different recommendations depending on the cause. The tests on the homepage of this website can help differentiate between the two most common causes of sciatica, but your hip pain may be due to something entirely different. What I can tell you is that stretching usually works best when done at least once per day, so it may help to increase the frequency of your stretching exercises.

      Dr. Best

  • Joseph Illluminate

    Reply Reply September 4, 2016

    Hello Dr. Best,

    My wife has had sciatica since November 2015 after she fell off a chair on to her buttocks. The pain has been continual in her lower back and down to right foot. We have tried epidural injections; chiropractic care; and acupuncture. Injections are horrible and actually made things worse because my wife is very sensitive to prescription medicine(we did not realize that there were steroids. Chiropractic treatment and acupuncture helped, but does not provide full relief. Also my wife is underweight due to loss of appetite from pain and diabetic complications.

    She is using an inversion table which seems to help. She walks with a cane too.

    I would like to know if my wife would be a good candidate for spinal decompression.

    Her MRI states that at “L4-L5 there is very mild annular bulging with mild facet degeneration and mild foraminal narrowing. At l5-S1, there is very mild annular bulging with mild facet degeneration. There is a small superimposed foraminal disc intrusion with mild to moderate foraminal narrowing. The protrusion contacts the undersurface of the existing left L5 nerve root. The left neural foramen is mildly narrowed.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Joe

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply September 5, 2016

      Hello Joe,

      The main problem is probably the L5/S1 disc. I think your wife would be a good candidate for spinal decompression. Generally with the types of imaging findings she has, spinal decompression will do a good job. There are situations in which a standard (lying down) MRI doesn’t tell the whole story, so if she doesn’t get good results with spinal decompression, I’d suggest she get an upright (typically done in a seated position) or loaded (using a harness to simulate weight-bearing on the spine) MRI to assess further. If there’s something more severe than what the standard MRI showed, she would probably be a candidate for “minimally invasive” surgery, which is done through small incisions using a view scope.

      If you have further questions, let me know.

      Good luck to your wife!

      Dr. Best

  • John

    Reply Reply December 4, 2016

    I know every case is different, but I am somewhat similar to Joe’s wife. I have a herniated disk between L5 and S1 causing sciatica running down my left leg. I have no idea how it happened, though probably not terribly relevant now. I am overseas in the Middle East and scheduled for spinal decompression tomorrow. I just started reading up on spinal decompression, because my first thought when I heard of it was being on The Rack in the 1700s. What should I expect (another website described theirs as “gentle and painless”, and what other PT things (exercises, hot or cold packs, stretching, etc.) should I be doing in addition to the decompression?

    Thank you.

    • Dr. George Best

      Reply Reply December 5, 2016

      Hello John,

      As you’ve probably already discovered from your research, in spinal decompression treatments you’ll be put in harnesses on the upper and lower body. The harnesses may feel pretty tight at first, but most people are comfortable in them once they get relaxed on the machine. In most cases the decompression treatment is quite comfortable and even relaxing while on the machine. On the other hand, it is relatively common to experience increased pain when you come off the table, particularly after the first few treatments. This is because the decompression causes the disc to draw in fluid and nutrients. In the long run, this promotes healing, but the added fluid volume of the disc may cause increased bulging (and more pressure on the effected nerve) when you first get up from the machine. While it’s not fun to experience, the temporary (a few minutes to several hours) of increased pain coming off the decompression table is actually a good sign that the treatment is targeting the problem well.

      With regards to other things to do on your own, the basics are found in my free ebook. In case you don’t have it, the download link is to the right of the video on this page: . I suggest you focus on the basics first (frequent repetition of a few effective things is better than doing a lot of different things in my experience), but additional methods of self-treatment and prevention can be found in the paid members area (see for more information).

      Good luck!

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