What is Flexion-Distraction Therapy?
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Could Flexion-Distraction Therapy Help My Pain?
Most of us experience pain in our muscles and joints occasionally. If we're lucky, the uncomfortable symptoms subside after just a few days. For some people, pain becomes a chronic condition that lasts months or years.
Although pain medication can be helpful, it often causes nausea, dizziness and other unpleasant side effects that can make it difficult to drive or keep up with your usual workload. Flexion-distraction therapy, a natural, non-surgical technique offered by your chiropractor, provides an effective, alternative pain relief option.
What Is Flexion-Distraction Therapy?
Flexion-distraction therapy is performed on a segmented table that moves as your chiropractor slowly manipulates your spine. The manipulations, combined with the movements of the table, stretch and decompress your spine, relieving your back, leg, neck, or arm pain.
As your chiropractor performs the gentle manipulations, a section of the treatment table drops or moves, changing the positioning of your body. When your body drops slightly, gravity enhances the effects of treatment and helps realign your spine.
What Are the Benefits of the Treatment?
Flexion-distraction therapy can:
Reduce pressure on your spinal nerves and discs
Decrease bulging of herniated discsImprove range of motion and mobility
Help you manage chronic back painRelieve stiffness
Decrease neck pain and headaches
Eliminate or delay the need for surgery in some cases
Promote good disc healthRelieve pain and numbness in the back, buttocks, arms, and legs
In a study published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers examined the effects of flexion-distraction manipulation on patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. The condition occurs when the spinal canal narrows and presses against the nerves that serve the lower back and legs, causing pain, weakness, numbness, and cramping.
Study participants who received flexion-distraction manipulation as part of their therapy experienced a greater reduction of their painful symptoms than those patients whose treatment did not include the technique.
Will Flexion-Distraction Help Me?
In addition to improving spinal stenosis symptoms, flexion-distraction can also be used to treat many other types of back pain. It may reduce pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis and improve spinal movement in patients who have scoliosis.
Flexion-distraction therapy can be helpful if you have sacroiliac syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, sprains, and strains. It's also very effective in treating muscle spasms or low back pain unrelated to a specific condition.
The technique is gentle enough to use after spinal surgery and can be an important part of your recovery treatment plan. If you have osteoporosis or another condition that affects your bones, some treatments may be too risky. Luckily, flexion-distraction is gentle enough that it can be a safe therapy option for people who have brittle bones or are frail.
Flexion-distraction therapy may even be helpful in treating knee pain. In a study published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, patients who had either acute or chronic knee pain received flexion-distraction therapy for two to three weeks. At the end of the treatment period, the mean pain scale score dropped from 7.7 to 1.8. Patients who suffered from chronic knee pain maintained their results by receiving the therapy once every month.
Are you tired of living in pain? Flexion-distraction therapy may offer the ideal way to relieve your symptoms, whether you've been experiencing pain for a few days or weeks, or you have a chronic condition. Call us to schedule your appointment.
NCBI: European Spine Journal: The Global Spine Care Initiative, 9/27/18
NCBI: Journal of Physical Therapy Science: Effects of Flexion-Distraction Manipulation Therapy on Pain and Disability in Patients with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, 6/30/15
Chiropractic Economics: The Extensive Benefits of a Chiropractic Flexion Table, 9/15/16
NCBI The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association: Innovative Application of Cox Flexion Distraction Decompression to the Knee: A Retrospective Case Series