Regular traction systems vs Spinal decompression systems
Regular traction systems simply pull on the spine at a pre-set rate and force. Spinal decompression systems gradually build up the force of the pull, and the more sophisticated spinal decompression systems can also adapt to the body’s reactions to the treatment. This adaptability of the machine allows the body to stay relaxed for the majority of the treatment and by keeping the body relaxed, the treatment effects are much greater on the spinal discs that what can be achieved with regular traction.
Studies have shown that regular traction does reduce pressure in the spinal discs, but not enough to reduce disc protrusion nor enough to significantly improve the hydration or nutrition to the disc. Muscle resistance limits the effects of regular traction too much for it to produce significant benefits to most disc patients. The basic spinal decompression systems are a significant improvement on regular traction because the machine pulls gradually and avoids much of the muscle reaction and resistance, allowing for some retraction of disc bulging. High-end spinal decompression systems provide even greater effects on the discs because they can largely eliminated muscle resistance. These machines have been consistently shown to produce strong suction forces within the discs that result in good retraction of protruding disc tissue back towards the center of the disc and produce an influx of fluid and nutrients into the disc that are thought to assist in disc healing.
The effectiveness of spinal decompression treatment for a specific patient will depend greatly on the nature of his or her condition. In general, spinal decompression works very well in cases of mild to moderate disc protrusion and/or degeneration. Disc extrusions (actual ruptures) and severe protrusions will sometimes get favorable results with spinal decompression, but the results are far less reliable than with less severe cases. Spinal decompression works well for patients of all ages. In fact, although some patients fear they are too old to get good results, my experience has been that older individuals actually do somewhat better than their younger counterparts, perhaps because the older patients are less likely to engage in heavy exertion that might cause a re-injury of the discs