Inversion Therapy For Sciatica & Back Pain?

seated inversion tableResearch indicates that inversion therapy can be successful in reducing back pain caused by sciatica or a variety of other back problems.

What many people do not know is that inversion therapy can also serve a preventative function for muscles in the lumbar region and spinal discs. In fact, there appear to be many benefits of inversion therapy for back, neck and shoulder pain.

We now know through multiple clinical studies that inversion therapy has proven effective as part of a well-rounded pain treatment program.

What Is Inversion Therapy?

Inversion therapy takes place on an inversion therapy table with the body basically hanging upside down or at a certain angle. The general position of the patient requires the feet to be above the head for inversion therapy to be successful. However the most successful position is at an angle rather than completely inverted.

In the early days of inversion therapy patients used to hang suspended by their feet completely upside down, until research and anecdotal evidence indicated this could have more damaging effects on the spine, nerves and back muscles. The complete upside down position may place too much force on the patient’s lower back, aggravating sciatica or general back pain.

It will be up to your physical therapist or inversion specialist to determine what the best angle is for effective treatment for your particular back problem. For most patients, an incline is more than enough, and for many back problems such as sciatica it allows patients a gradual incline that is more soothing and effective.

Why Inversion Therapy?

Many sciatica and back pain patients scoff at the idea of inversion therapy, likening it to other new age and all natural back pain treatments. The truth however is that inversion can provide an immediate sense of tension relief, and sometimes the effects can even be long-lasting.

Back pain specialists have been turning to inversion therapy to treat a variety of back ailments. It can help treat pain related to herniated discs, compressed or pinched nerves and compressed discs. Because it is minimally invasive and provides a method of relieving tension in the back muscles and helping separate spinal discs that have become compressed, it can have the same effect of some surgeries without the high cost or high risk.

One of the most shocking aspects of inversion therapy is that it is believes to reverse the aging process of the spine by decompressing it.


Inversion therapy does have its limitations as an effective method of treating sciatica and general back pain. For example not all spine or muscle conditions can be treated with an inversion therapy and not all back pain patients can safely undergo this form of therapy. Patients who suffer from hypertension are advised against inversion therapy because it has been shown to increase blood pressure, which can pose health risks.

Additionally if you suffer from heart disease, glaucoma or frequent headaches and migraines, you may not be a candidate for inversion therapy as it can aggravate these conditions or worsen them. Be sure to tell your physician or physical therapist if you have any of these conditions before beginning inversion therapy to treat back pain or sciatica.

Does It Work?

The jury is still out on the permanent effectiveness of inversion therapy, or traction, to treat sciatica and back pain. It can be used to relieve pain and tension in the short-term, which is especially helpful if you suffer from chronic back pain and don’t want to rely on pharmaceuticals alone.

Inversion therapy should not be your only source of pain relief as it works best when part of a comprehensive treatment plan.


Filed Under: Inversion Table, Sciatica
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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