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Back Pain and Inversion Therapy

Posted Sep 10 2011 8:03pm

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, 80 percent of adults are likely to experience back pain at some point in their lives. This back pain may range from mild to severe and have an effect on your quality of life. Back pain can limit daily activities, make sitting in a chair all day painful, make sleeping difficult and cause you to miss out on the activities you enjoy most — including playing with your kids or grand kids, golfing, gardening, sports, exercise or any other form of physical activity. One less commonly thought of treatment for back pain is known as inversion therapy. Hanging upside down may be able to bring relief to suffers of chronic and acute back pain.

Inversion Therapy Back Pain and Inversion Therapy

What is Inversion Therapy and How Can it Help with Back Pain?

Inversion therapy is often indicated as a method of relief for those suffering from back pain. This type of therapy may be used on its own or combined with more traditional forms of medicine to help provide patients with relief from back pain. Inversion therapy takes gravitational pressure off of the disks and nerve roots found within your spinal column. This type of therapy also claims to increase the space between your vertebrae. Inversion therapy is an example of spinal stretching — or spinal traction — which has been used in attempts to relieve the pain of back pain suffers.

Inversion therapy places a patient in an upside down position. This helps to relieve pressure on the spinal column and nerves. By reducing pressure, the goal of inversion therapy is to significantly reduce back pain.

Benefits of Inversion Therapy:

  • Proponents of inversion therapy for back pain indicate that traction can help to restore proper alignment to the spine. A misaligned back and hips can be a force of pain and inflammation throughout the entire back. Encouraging proper posture can help alleviate back pain in suffers.
  • Inversion therapy can help back pain suffers regain flexibility in their backs. Stretching can be performed on an inversion table that is often too painful for back pain suffers to perform in an upright position. Stretches can help to strengthen the muscles of the back as well as the pelvis and hips. Proper alignment of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex is important in alleviating back pain.
  • Inversion therapy can also help increase the flow of blood to the back. By stimulating circulation, there is an increased amount of oxygen flowing to your back muscles. Increased oxygen flow can help reduce pain and inflammation in your muscles and encourage proper functioning of your back muscles.
  • Inversion therapy can also help to relieve stress. The full body stretching that occurs with the use of inversion therapy can help to take your mind off of back pain and may even allow you to sleep better.
  • Height loss is a normal part of the aging process. Inversion therapy can help to prevent height loss as the result of cumulative effects of gravity on your body throughout your lifetime.
  • Inversion therapy can also help reduce pain and realign your spine following a workout. If your back pain is only occasional, inversion therapy may be able to help undo the effects of an intense workout. High-impact activities — like running — can cause spinal compression. One-sided activities — like golf — can cause your spine to be pulled out of alignment. Minor misalignment of the spine can often correct themselves through inversion therapy.

Inversion therapy usually begins by inverting a patient at 25 to 30 degree angles. This allows a patient to become comfortable with the idea of essentially being turned upside down. Once a patient is comfortable with this degree, a patient is then progressed to a 60 degree angle. Many patients are comfortable at this mark and experience pain relief. It is often not necessary to extend beyond a 60 degree angle to a 90 degree angle. However, an inversion table can extend to 90 degrees. Patients may opt to go the full 90 degrees. Little inversion is necessary to reap the benefits of inversion therapy for back pain. Patients who receive inversion therapy at an angle of just 25 degrees for a few minutes daily are able to ease muscle tensions, train core muscles, alleviate pressure on the spine and improve the flow of lymphatic fluid throughout the body.

Multiple studies have been completed on the use of inversion therapy for back pain. In a 1978 study, back pain suffers who engage in inversion therapy were able to reduce their pain by almost 35 percent immediately.

Another study indicates that inversion therapy has been beneficial in improving the quality of life of back pain suffers. Over 80 percent of back pain suffers were able to return to work as well as normal everyday activities following just eight inversion table treatments. Another study also indicates that 70 percent of participants were able to cancel scheduled back surgeries as the result of inversion table treatments.

Back pain suffers are not the only individuals who have seen relief from pain as the result of inversion therapy. Numerous studies have found inversion therapy beneficial in the treatment of the following conditions and ailments:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neck pain
  • Pinched nerves
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated discs
  • Arthritis
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Headaches
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Migraines

Inversion therapy may be offered at chiropractic clinics as well as at alternative medicine clinics and wellness centers. Inversion tables can also be purchased online for use in the privacy of your own home. Prior to investing in an inversion table, it is a good idea to try inversion therapy out. Contact local chiropractic or alternative medicine clinics in your area for pricing and availability of inversion therapy.

It is important to remember that inversion therapy is not for everyone. Always consult your physician prior to beginning inversion therapy for back pain or any other health ailment. Inversion therapy slows your heartbeat and increases your blood pressure when you remain in an inverted period for more than a coupe of minutes. Inversion therapy also increases the pressure in your eyes. As a result, those with high blood pressure, glaucoma and heart disease should not engage in inversion therapy. Those suffering from osteoporosis, middle ear infections, pink eye, retinal detachment, circulatory disorders and those with recent joint replacements — especially joint replacement of the hip and knee — should consult their physician prior to beginning inversion therapy. Women who are pregnant, those who have recently fractured bones, recent stroke suffers, those who are clinically obese and individuals with severe spinal cord damage should exercise extreme caution and always consult a physician prior to beginning inversion therapy for back pain.

When trying inversion therapy, you should always have help around. It may be difficult to get on and off of the inversion therapy table, especially with a back injury. Never engage in the use of an inversion therapy table while alone.

References

“The National Academy of Sports Medicine: Essentials of Personal Fitness Training”; Scott Lucett; 2008
MayoClinic.com: Does Inversion Therapy Relieve Back Pain?
Energy Center: Benefits of Inversion Therapy

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