You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn’t care.
A common query I get is, “Dr. Morgan, I feel better and want to stay this way. What can I do at home to help ease pain? My friend has an inversion table—do they work?” It depends on your condition and the type of inversion table. As a general rule, inversion therapy is useful for those who suffer from pinched nerves or nerve-based pain, bulging or herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease. I have patients who incorporate their treatments in our clinic and at-home inversion therapy with great success.
Inversion therapy acts in a similar manner as computerized spinal decompression therapy, which is utilized in our clinic every day. Inversion tables are not quite as effective or sophisticated as computerized spinal decompression therapy, due to the fact that you are not able to control the amount of weight that is being pulled on your spine and can place you back in different positions, to properly position you back depending on the spinal condition that is causing pain. You also need to be in relatively good health, having the ability and mobility to maneuver yourself on the table.
An inversion table inverts the body into an upside-down or partial upside-down position. The idea behind this therapy is to reverse the effects of gravity, which can compress or squish the spinal discs or cushions that are in between the vertebrae.We discussed compressed disc and the impact it can have on your back pain in a earlier blog. The table allows you to stretch your spine out, providing room for discs to reabsorb fluids and move back into their proper positions.
There is only one inversion table I recommend, because it is the best I have found in the market. It is called the Total Back Solution Inversion Table My patients who are interested in inversion therapy take their health seriously and are willing to make a wise investment that pays in good-health dividends. You want a table that is high on quality and will last, and since you will be hanging upside-down, you want to be safe. This is why I will not recommend a lesser quality Inversion table. I only recommend a table that is only available to physicians, as many doctors use this as a therapy in their clinics. This table is the most durable on the market and has scientific studies to back up its effectiveness. I have chosen this particular inversion table because I know it to be durable, safe, and adjustable. The high-quality frame holds up to the weight of most individuals, and it has different settings so you can start self-treatment at different angles, gradually working to an upside-down position. I recommend starting at a 45-degree angle for only 10 minutes a day, since you need to give your body time to adjust to this new treatment. After five days, if you are comfortable with the 45-degree angle, then you may lower the settings to a higher angle and increase treatment time.
I made an oath to do no harm, and I consider my patients part of my extended family. These are the top three things I consider when I recommend this premium inversion table:
- Safety—It must be of high quality. Has it been tested in independent studies?. Will it hold the weight of your body, time and time again? I guarantee that someone will see your inversion table and want to try it. If they are bigger than you, will it hold their body weight? Are there ergonomically molded ankle cushions so you do not develop pain at the ankles? If you decide to get an inversion table on your own, check the weight limit. Make sure the table has tough rubber nonskid floor stabilizers so the table does not slide or wobble.
- Durability—I highly discourage a plastic-framed inversion table. You want a steel frame and high-grade back board that will not stretch or wear out over time.
- Manageability—Are you physically able to handle the table on your own without assistance? You also need to be in relatively good health, having the ability and mobility to maneuver yourself on and off the table.
Inversion therapy is not recommended for uncontrolled blood pressure or hypertensive patients due to the fact that blood pressure increases as you hang upside-down. A better alternative is computerized spinal decompression therapy, as you do not have to lie upside down.
An inversion table is an investment you do not want to go cheap on, as it can save you a lot in future health-care costs. This piece of equipment will last you a lifetime if you make the right purchase. If you feel inversion therapy is right for you, ask me if you and your condition would benefit.
Contact my office today to get more information how we can help treat your pain. When you call tell the receptionist you want to come in for our NEW PATIENT SPECIAL. Download your free copy of my latest book here!
Ice or Heat?
A question I get daily in my practice is, “Doc, should I use ice or heat for my back pain?” The rule on this is simple: During the first 48 to 72 hours of acute onset of pain, apply ice to the region to minimize inflammation. After that time period, I recommend moving to moist heat. Many people get short-term relief while taking a hot shower or bath. The heat opens blood vessels to the painful or injured regions, allowing more blood flow, which brings in oxygen and other healing nutrients and can flush stagnant toxins from that region.
Stretching Dos and Don’ts
I am willing to bet that all back pain sufferers want long-term relief. One way to accomplish this is to stretch predictable muscles that become chronically tight and pull on your spine.
Start stretching today.
It’s simple. No whining—just do it! Focus on the following muscle groups, as most of them are the muscles that are very commonly affected in postural conditions and can create pain in neck and back regions. Start stretching these muscles:
- Hamstrings (backs of thighs)
- Hip flexors (front of pelvis)
- Lower back
- Front of neck
- Sides of neck
- Calves (backs of lower legs)
What Is Spondylolisthesis?
A spondylo-what?! Spondy-lo-lis-thesis is the forward displacement of a vertebra, especially the fourth or fifth lumbar vertebra, most commonly occurring after a fracture. Backward displacement is referred to as retrolisthesis. The vertebra “slips,” most commonly in the lower back or lumbar spine. The amount of forward slip can vary from mild to severe. I see many women with this condition, due to severe “sway back” or too much curvature in the lower back. It is also a noted condition that occurs in many gymnasts or athletes who perform hyperextension maneuvers. Older adults can develop spondylolisthesis, because wear-and-tear on the back leads to stress fractures. It can also occur without stress fractures, maybe due to severe degenerative changes.
Symptoms include generalized lower back pain with intermittent shooting pain from the buttocks to the posterior thigh, or numbness and tingling in feet or lower leg via the nerve. Coughing and sneezing can intensify the pain. An individual might also note a “slipping sensation” when moving into an upright position. Sitting and trying to stand up might be painful and difficult. This condition is not necessarily reversible but needs to be managed in order to limit pain and further forward translation of the vertebra. Maintenance treatment is necessary to manage this condition.
Effective Treatment for Spondylolisthesis
Joint realignment or manipulation by a trained chiropractor • Muscle balance treatments to improve postural strains • Core strengthening • Natural anti-inflammatory such as Boswellia or turmeric • Ice packs for acute pain and hot packs for chronic pain • Electrical nerve stimulation • Computerized spinal decompression therapy • Inversion therapy
Call today 325-695-9355 to schedule your appointment. Our highly trained staff will take care of all your needs and they will get you scheduled for your exam.
Jake Morgan DC
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine from one side to the other. There are many causes of scoliosis—genetics, cerebral palsy, other neurological disorders—but the most common is what doctors describe as idiopathic, meaning “we don’t know why.” Some clues that a person has scoliosis include uneven shoulders, a prominent shoulder blade, uneven waist, or leaning to one side. Girls are more likely to be affected than boys. Idiopathic scoliosis is most commonly a condition of adolescence, affecting ages 10 through 16. Idiopathic scoliosis can progress during the “growth spurt” years but usually stops progressing once skeletal maturity is reached. The diagnosis of scoliosis and the determination of the type of scoliosis are made by a careful spinal exam and X-ray to evaluate the magnitude of the curve or curves.
Functional Scoliosis is a mild form of curvature that can be contributed to old injuries that don’t heal properly, lifestyle habits, or muscle imbalances that slowly pull the spine and create misalignments. It is not uncommon for degenerative spines to develop curvatures. Patients can develop chronic muscle tightness and joint pain due to abnormal pressures on the spine.
Treatment for Scoliosis
Most curvatures are mild in nature and can be managed by improving joint motion and retraining the muscles that support the spine. • Short-term relief includes using electrical stimulation to relax the musculature. • Bracing is the usual treatment of choice for adolescents who have a spinal curve between 25 degrees to 40 degrees, particularly if their bones are still maturing and if they have at least two years of growth remaining. • If the curvature is over 40 degrees, surgery to put rods in the spine might be recommended. With this amount of curvature, even with bracing or a surgery a perfectly aligned spine is not likely.
I treat patients every day with this condition. I can help you! Call the office today to schedule your appointment! Make sure and tell the receptionist you want to come in for the New Patient special and mention the blog so that you can get your major discount!
What Is Spinal Compression?
The spine is made up of a stack of bones called vertebrae, which are stacked one on top of the other. In between the bones are the cushion called the discs, which are gel-like structures that are mostly filled with water and are the shock absorbers of the spine. We have talked about the different ways injuries, lifting and twisting, along with postural imbalances can compress or squeeze down on a disc. One side of the disc having increased stress on it puts unequal pressure on the disc. Visualize a water balloon that is being pushed down on one side with your hand—the water is pushed to the other side, and the more pressure increases the likelihood hood that the balloon will eventually burst.
Discs operate in virtually the same way. This is how some patients develop a herniated or bulging disc with no history of acute injury. Gravity provides a daily stress on our spines. Studies show we are actually taller in the morning after lying down for several hours, which allows a decrease in pressure on your discs. By the end of the day, we experience gravitational compression. Over the years, chronic compression can dehydrate discs and, in our senior years, we will likely shrink.
Treatment for Spinal Compression
Computerized spinal decompression therapy is just how it sounds—it decompresses the disc by reversing the effects of gravity. This is done by having the patient lie on a table, the lower back and upper half strapped to a machine, and then a computer is programmed to gently pull at a certain weight as it slowly stretches the lower back for a period of 10 to 30 minutes. Most patients nap while the treatment is in progress. The spinal decompression machine attempts to create some room and a vacuum-like suction in the area of disc compression to return to its normal position. That means pain relief. Space gives the painful or injured disc room to heal and repair itself.
I have had countless success with the spinal decompression table, as it is safe and effective, and it takes only 10 to 30 minutes a treatment. Many clinical studies demonstrate the lasting effects of decompression therapy. But what I consider even more valuable than clinical studies is what I have seen firsthand—back pain that has plagued patients for years totally disappear within a few minutes on the decompression table. Other cases reverse back pain after a couple weeks of treatment. When a patient is not responding, it is likely that other complicating factors, such as muscle imbalances or piriformis syndrome, have been overlooked. Computerized spinal decompression therapy is a valuable tool for treating the spine without drugs or surgery.
Call the office today to schedule your appointment! Make sure and tell the receptionist you want to come in for the New Patient special and mention the blog so that you can get your major discount!