Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 14, 2016
Inversion therapy is a somewhat controversial treatment technique that is supposed to provide spine pain relief by taking gravitational pressure off the nerve roots and discs in the spine. It also claims to work by increasing the space between vertebrae through spinal traction, but some people are concerned that the potential drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Today, we take a closer look at the benefits and risks of pursuing inversion therapy for spine pain.
Inversion Therapy Benefits
Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down or using a less-stressful method with an inversion table. An inversion table is similar to those zero-gravity lounge chairs you may have seen throughout the summer months that allow the person to not only recline their chair to a horizontal position, but actually invert so their feet are above their head. Inversion tables take zero-gravity chairs to the next level, as they can invert much farther and sometimes involve ankle straps to ensure you remain on the table while inverted.
In the right setting and performed under the guidance of someone who understands the ins and outs of inversion therapy, it can provide short-term pain relief in the form of spinal decompression. That being said, inversion therapy carries some risks that may outweigh the short-term benefits of moderate spine pain relief.
Inversion Therapy Drawbacks
Some medical experts are very leery of inversion therapy for spine pain because it can actually make matters worse. For starters, inversion therapy should not be performed by anyone who has high blood pressure or heart issues. Inversion therapy increases your blood pressure and slows your heartbeat, which can cause serious problems for people. Studies also show that it increases pressure within your eyeballs, so individuals with glaucoma are advised against the therapy technique.
Another reason some spine specialists have reservations with inversion therapy is that many patients tend to overdo it, which can make matters worse. Either they invert too long or too far, which can strain muscles or make original injuries worse.
Lastly, as we alluded to above, the benefits of inversion therapy are short-term at best. You’re not going to cure years of disc degeneration by laying in an inverted position for 10 minutes a couple times a day. You may experience some short-term relief, but at the end of the day, your pain is going to come back. We’ve found that other lifestyle interventions like regular exercise, dietary changes and hands-on treatment with a specialist, be it a spine care practitioner, physical therapist or chiropractor, all generally produce better outcomes and are a safer alternative to inversion therapy. That being said, if you are truly set on trying an inversion table for your spine condition, please consult with a back doctor first. They can give their opinion on the technique, share some tips and answer any questions you might have. For right now, the therapy simply isn’t effective enough to be viewed as a safe, long-term solution.