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Patients frequently ask us about decompression and inversion tables. Many are curious to know if chiropractors use it, if it can help treat pain, and if Smart Pain Solutions offers decompression at their Bridgeton or Clayton office. Spinal decompression is an alternate approach to relieve pain & promote healing within the spine. Decompression is utilized by chiropractors and other healthcare professionals such as physical therapists. This blog posting explains decompression and how chiropractors use it to reduce neck and low back pain. We will discuss decompression tables and exercises that can be performed in-clinic and at home.

Chiropractic & Decompression Therapy

Chiropractic and decompression are two distinct, yet conservative approaches to healing the body naturally. Smart Pain Solutions is a chiropractic clinic. We treat neck and back pain by emphasizing the importance of proper alignment and mobility within the spine. Decompression therapy aims to alleviate pain and promote healing by gently stretching the spine and relieving pressure on compressed spinal nerves and discs. Our St. Louis chiropractic offices in Bridgeton and Clayton use decompression to reduce pressure placed on the body’s joints, spinal nerves, discs, and surrounding vertebrae. Reducing pressure on these structures improves blood flow to the affected areas. As a result, aiding in the care for herniated & bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and facet joint dysfunction. Car crashes & whiplash injuries increase the chances of developing a disc bulge or herniation. Decompression treatment may prove to be very beneficial for treating motor vehicle related injuries.

Types of Decompression

There are several options for decompression. For instance; mechanical tables, supportive devices, and exercises can all provide and support decompression of the spine. Spinal decompression therapy is most often performed under the supervision of a healthcare professional. These devices alleviate compression on discs and nerves to promote healing. In- office treatment is usually delivered over a series of appointments. Each session lasts about 10 minutes. Some patients may experience immediate relief, while others may require several visits before experiencing more noticeable improvements. Spinal decompression therapy is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan which may include other therapies, activities, and lifestyle modifications for treating spinal dysfunction and pain. Lets now take a look at the variety of decompression options and exercises to help treat pain.

Decompression Tables

There are several types of decompression tables used in spinal decompression therapy. These pieces of equipment are designed to provide controlled stress, traction, & decompression of the spine. Here are some common types;

Motorized Tables: These are commonly equipped with a motor that controls the traction and decompression forces applied to the spine. These tables are typically the most expensive because they often have computerized systems allowing for precise modifications to the traction forces. These may have adjustable parts to the table such as an upper and lower body section of the table. This targets specific areas of the spine that cause pain and immobilize other parts that aren’t the troublesome area.

Manual Decompression Tables: Manual tables rely on adjustments performed by the healthcare provider. The provider applies traction forces by controlling the table’s movements and positions. Manual decompression tables may have various modification features to accommodate different patient sizes and specific target areas of the spine. This is the type of table we utilize at Smart Pain Solutions in Bridgeton. You may hear our doctor’s call this table the “Flexion distraction” table. It is essentially another name for this type of decompression technique.

Inversion Tables: Inversion tables allow the user to hang at an inverted angle or nearly upside down. By using gravity to reverse the effects of compression, inversion tables help decompress the spine. They work by suspending the body in an inverted position, which elongates the vertebrae and unloads pressure between the spinal nerves and vertebrae. Inversion tables are often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan and can be used at home or in a clinical setting. You may remember our discussion on Inversion tables from our Frequently Asked Questions tab. Inversion tables can be beneficial but they come with precautionary measures. Speak with your healthcare professional before utilizing this type of table. If you would like to see that again, click on our FAQ.

Decompression Exercises

McKenzie Exercises: These exercises focus on the extension motion of the spine and can help relieve pressure on the discs. The McKenzie Method involves a series of exercises, such as prone press-ups and standing back extensions, all of which can be tailored to your specific needs.

Cat-Camel Stretch: Start on your hands & knees, slowly arch your back upward (like a cat stretching) while tucking your chin to your chest. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your back and lift your head, allowing your belly to drop toward the floor (like a camel). Repeat this movement several times to gently mobilize the spine.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch: Lie on your back with your legs extended. Bring one knee toward your chest, grasping it with your hands and gently pulling it closer. Hold for about 10 to 30 seconds, then switch legs. This stretch can help relieve tension in the lower back and gently decompress the spine. Here is a link guiding you through this exercise.

Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently tilt your pelvis backward, pressing your lower back into the floor, then tilt your pelvis forward, arching your lower back slightly off the floor. Repeat this rocking motion for several repetitions to mobilize the lumbar spine.

Each of these are great exercises for treating whiplash and aiding in the body’s recovery process from a car crash. If you’ve mastered these and are looking for slightly more challenging exercises, check out the DIY videos with Dr. Sarah going over a few core stabilizing exercises.

Exercise Ball Decompressions

An exercise ball routine promotes spinal mobility & core strength. It is not typically considered a primary tool for spinal decompression. However, an exercise ball can still be incorporated into a comprehensive exercise program to support spinal health and potentially provide some relief from spinal compression. Below are 3 exercises using the ball;

Pelvic Tilts on Exercise Ball: Sit on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly tilt your pelvis forward and backward, using your abdominal muscles to control the movement. This exercise can help mobilize the lumbar spine and engage the core muscles.

Low Back Decompression

Low Back Decompression: Begin with your knees on the ground. Pull the ball into your hips and abdomen, Slowly roll yourself overtop of the exercise ball so that your body is bridging over the ball and your hands and feet are keeping you stationary. You should feel a light stretch in the back muscles, reducing some of the pressure within your vertebrae and spinal nerve roots.

Spinal Extensions: Lie face-down on the exercise ball with your hips resting on the ball and your feet anchored on the floor. Place your hands behind your head or across your chest. Lift your upper body off the ball, extending your spine backward while keeping your neck in a neutral position. Lower yourself back down to the starting position. This exercise helps strengthen the muscles in your back and promotes spinal extension.

Side Bends: Sit on the exercise ball with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Place your hands behind your head or on your hips. Slowly lean to one side, using your oblique muscles to initiate the movement. Return to an upright position and repeat on the other side. This exercise targets the muscles along the side of your torso, which can help stabilize and support the spine.


The specific type of decompression table or device used may vary depending on the healthcare provider and the equipment available in their practice. Each type of table or device has its own features & benefits. The choice of equipment depends on factors such as the patient’s condition, treatment goals, and the healthcare provider’s expertise. Remember the importance of listening to your body and to proceed with caution when performing at-home exercises. If you have been involved in a car crash and suffering from a whiplash injury, you should consider decompression to aide in the recovery process at Smart Pain Solutions. Spinal decompression therapy can be beneficial for many individuals in St. Louis. It may not be suitable for everyone. People with certain conditions, such as fractures, tumors, advanced osteoporosis, or pregnancy, may not be candidates for this treatment. If you have a specific spinal condition or are experiencing severe pain, always speak with your healthcare professional to determine if spinal decompression therapy and certain exercises are appropriate for you. They will ensure you’re performing the right exercises and provide proper guidance for your situation. Call Smart Pain Solutions in Bridgeton at 314-298-1400 and in Clayton at 314-721- 5390.

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