Treating Back Pain – Inversion Therapy vs. Surgery?

Suffering from chronic or acute back pain may require more treatment that traditional methods can provide. While treatments that include physical therapy, massage and acupressure have been proven effective, for some they may not provide enough relief. Whether you have sciatica or general back pain, you may need inversion therapy or surgery to treat it effectively.

Many patients want to know which method of treating back pain is more effective and the truth is it just depends on which treatment you respond to best. 

What Is Inversion Therapy?

Inversion therapy decompresses the vertebrae using an inversion therapy table. The idea behind inversion therapy is that lying on the inverted table removes the gravitational pressure from the discs and nerve roots in the spine. It also expands the space between the vertebrae, which relieves the pain and pressure associated with back pain.

Does It Work?

Inversion therapy is considered a legitimate alternative to surgery to treat back pain because it is far less invasive, it doesn’t have a lengthy recovery time and fewer side effects. For many back pain sufferers inversion therapy is something to be tried before back surgery becomes a reality.

This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with inversion therapy, but there are many other types of treatment for back pain that have fewer side effects for those suffering from other medical conditions. Since inversion therapy requires one to be upside down, there is a high risk for those with glaucoma, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Inversion therapy does work to effectively treat back pain. It can relieve tension due to acute back pain, chronic back pain, lower back pain, sciatica and traditional run of the mill back pain as well. Inversion therapy does work and you can find almost immediate relief, however that relief will not be long lasting.

Inversion Therapy vs. Surgery

While there is no comparison between inversion therapy and surgery, they do each serve a specific purpose. For some, therapy will ultimately be the only effective way to find lasting relief from pain. This is especially true if your back pain is due to an injury or trauma to the back. But 23% of patients who used inversion therapy in a recent study still required surgery to treat their back pain.

That numbers goes up quite significantly when inversion therapy is used with another form of back pain management such as physical therapy. Those who use this combination are 70% less likely to need back surgery than those who relied only on physical therapy as treatment.

Back surgery however is risky, costly and most commonly has a long recovery period. Aside from the common fear of surgery, the lengthy recovery time is why many shy away from surgery. Since back pain has already sidelined them from their regular lives, many are reluctant for any solution that will require more time in bed and immobile.

Inversion therapy is not for everyone, particularly those who suffer from high blood pressure, glaucoma and heart disease. But hanging upside down for extended periods of time is not healthy for those with spinal injuries, bone disorders, a history of sporadic spine problems, chronic neck problems or herniated discs. This upside down position will worsen these conditions, which may then require surgery.

If your physician recommends surgery to treat your back pain, be sure to ask if there are any other treatments that could work before you go under the knife. While your goal may be to find immediate relief without having to undergo surgery, your physician’s goal is to find the most permanent solution to your medical problem. With that in mind the responsibility falls to you to find out what other forms of treatment will relieve your back pain until you are ready to have back surgery.

Be sure to ask your physician if you have any risk factors that could make inversion therapy dangerous. 

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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