About Spinal Decompression Therapy
and the Triton Decompression Traction System (DTS)
Physical Therapy First is pleased to offer the Triton Decompression Traction System (DTS), which is used for spinal decompression therapy, an advanced form of spinal traction. Spinal decompression therapy can be a successful, non-surgical alternative treatment for relieving low back, neck pain, and radiating arm and leg pain. Spinal decompression therapy is an effective treatment for:
What Is Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Spinal decompression therapy is a modern, non-surgical traction procedure that effectively treats low back, neck, and radiating leg and arm pain. This type of traction is very successful in relieving pain associated with spinal disc herniation, degenerative spinal discs, and facet joint syndromes. Spinal decompression therapy decompresses spinal discs and facet joints by utilizing traction, distraction, and body positioning.
Research to develop this procedure was conducted by prominent physicians, engineers and technicians at major teaching hospitals. Our Triton Decompression Traction System is FDA approved and has been clinically proven to provide pain relief and decrease symptoms associated with herniated and/or bulging discs.
Studies have shown that the spinal disc injury is responsible for a significant number of lumbar/leg pain and neck/arm pain syndromes. Excessive compression forces from daily activities increases internal spinal disc pressure which can lead to spinal disc protrusion, herniation, and bulging of disc material.
Using the Triton DTS in conjunction with other physical therapy treatments provided in our clinic can effectively relieve the pain and disability resulting from disc injury and degeneration. The treatment aids in the healing of damaged discs and reverses dystrophic changes in nerves. The Triton DTS treats the functional and mechanical aspects of spinal disc pain through non-surgical traction (decompression) of spinal discs.
Our new, computer-controlled Triton DTS is designed to apply distraction and decompression to the patient's spine without producing reflex paravertebral muscle contractions.
This is a picture of the computer screen.
By significantly reducing internal disc pressure, the Triton DTS promotes retraction of the herniation spinal disc material back to a normal physiologic position and promotes the intake of fluids, oxygen, and other substances necessary for healing the spinal disc and surrounding tissues. This decompression stimulates the repair of tissues and inhibits leakage of the internal material of the spinal disc (also known as the nucleus pulposus).
Recent research has shown that 86% of the 219 patients who completed decompression therapy reported immediate resolution of symptoms, while 84% remained pain-free 90 days post-treatment. Physical examination findings showed improvement in 92% of the 219 patients, and remained intact in 89% of these patients 90 days after treatment (Gionis, Thomas MD; Groteke, Eric DC. Surgical Alternatives: Spinal Decompression. Orthopedic Technology Review. 2003; 6 (5).
How Is Spinal Decompression Therapy Using the Triton DTS Different From the Older Form of Traction?
The older form of traction is a simple steady force that is put on the patient's body with the intent of unloading the body's joints, muscles, and other structures. For example, hanging upside-down on an "inversion table" is a common method to put the spine into traction. Inverse tables use one's body weight to put traction force on the spine, thus, the body weight is working to unload the spine while the person is upside down. Inversion tables may be contraindicated for patients with vascular disease, heart problems, high blood pressure, and other health conditions.
Spinal traction has been around for over 1000 years and it has been seen in a variety of forms. Old forms of spinal traction can be uncomfortable and do not always produce pain relief. Clinical studies have shown ordinary traction with a steady pull can be an ineffective treatment for back and neck pain relief. The lack of success with older forms of traction may be due to our bodies' reaction to the steady pull of the traction machine. Under a steady traction pull our spinal muscles may involuntarily contract which makes unloading the injured spinal disc unsuccessful. So, rather than achieving the desired effect of unloading the spinal disc, the contracting spinal muscles may actually increase the intradiscal pressure. This old form of traction does not allow the spinal discs to heal or the spinal nerves to become decompressed.
Spinal decompression therapy using the Triton DTS is a modern, computerized, updated form of traction. The Triton Decompression Traction System uses computer technology to control variations in the unloading (traction pull) of the spine, effectively avoiding the body's muscle contraction response. Your physical therapist can control how many progressive tension steps you experience before reaching the maximum tension. Also, the physical therapist has complete control over how long the tensions are held steady and how often they are repeated through the computerized system.
What Are The Treatments Like?
After lying on the comfortable Triton Decompression Traction System table, you will be fitted in a support system. The support system helps to stabilize your body. The advanced computer-controlled system automatically adjusts to the proper angle of pull (distraction), allowing us to target the specific spinal discs that are causing your pain and symptoms. The distractive forces utilize a computer controlled logarithmic curve to avoid reflex responses which would create muscle spasm. The split table design decreases friction and allows decompression of the spinal disc.
While lying down on the table, the Triton DTS's computer simulates an anti-gravity effect on your spine that helps herniated spinal disc material to move toward its normal position, thus, reducing spinal disc pressure and pain. Patients typically describe the treatment as a gentle, painless, intermittent pulling sensation.
How Long Are Treatments And How Many Do You Need?
Patients typically undergo 15 to 20 decompression/traction treatment sessions and the treatment session will include additional physical therapy. A complete physical therapy session can last between 45 and 60 minutes. However, treatment time will vary upon a patient's condition and is determined by a thorough pre-treatment physical therapy evaluation. It is important to note that many patients get substantial, immediate relief after just a few physical therapy treatments.
Can Spinal Decompression Therapy Using Triton DTS Help My Pain?
Though each patient is different and no physical therapist can guarantee success, the clinical results of this type of therapy have been shown to be effective in 86% of patients treated. The common problems of many back conditions are damaged spinal discs and poor spinal muscle control. Our treatment program addresses both of these core problems. The specially-designed Triton Decompression Traction System creates a controlled unloading of the spine which appears to decrease spinal disc pressure while increasing blood and nutrient exchange. This blood and nutrient exchange is critical to aid in the spinal disc healing process. Muscle strength, control, and endurance can all be improved with our spinal physical therapy program which will includes specific controlled spinal exercises.
Will Spinal Decompression/Traction Therapy Hurt?
Treatments using the Triton DTS are one of the most gentle and comfortable therapies available. The treatments utilize FDA-cleared equipment with proven safety and efficacy. Most patients report a mild sense of stretching on their back or hips, and often fall asleep during treatment sessions. The Triton Decompression Traction System is produced by one of the world's largest manufacturers of hospital-based therapy and rehabilitation equipment, Chattanooga.
Is Spinal Decompression A New Type of Treatment?
Although traction therapy has been around for thousands of years, spinal decompression therapy using the Triton DTS is new. Advances in equipment and procedures have dramatically improved effectiveness of the treatment. Continual improvements in the traction / decompression system and regular updates in protocol keep this system in the forefront of non-invasive disc therapy. Each year over 50,000 patients are treated with this type of therapy and that number is growing.
How Long Will My Treatment Program Be?
This depends on the complexity and extent of physical therapy needed, however, we typically treat patients 3-4 times a week for approximately 1 month, and then the patient is transitioned from passive to active treatments. The treatment is administered over a reasonable time frame and the patient's response to treatment is continually evaluated. Physical therapy treatment may be increased or reduced in frequency depending on the response to treatment.
The physical therapy phase may include additional spinal decompression treatments using the Triton DTS coupled with therapeutic exercise, stretching, and spinal manipulation to enhance the response to treatment. Most patients discontinue spinal decompression / traction treatments after 4 to 6 weeks.
Why Is This Type Of Therapy More Successful Than Other Treatment Options?
Spinal decompression therapy using the Triton DTS, as practiced in our clinic, is a comprehensive program of the newest traction techniques. This therapy can integrate other therapies which may include: targeted spinal musclestabilization exercises, biofeedback, dry needling, and osteopathic. Our approach to treating spinal disc injury with a combination of treatments is what sets our clinic apart.
Additionally, spinal discs have been shown to be a predominant site of pain, so directing treatment the spinal disc can be an effective treatment approach. The blending of focused traction at the injury site, rehabilitation to the supporting structures, and overall strengthening / conditioning of musculature makes the treatment unique.
Why the Need For Therapeutic Exercises And Other Therapies?
In addition to the injury to the spinal disc, it is important to condition the supporting spinal muscles. A complete physical therapy program targeting the function of the spinal stabilization muscles is vital. Moist heat, electric stimulation, ultrasound therapy, dry needling, soft tissue and joint mobilization can offer additional benefits for reduction of inflammation and muscle spasm.
A gradual weakening of the spinal muscles and secondary supporting muscles of the spine and the consequential decrease in spinal stability can put undue stresses on the spinal discs and leads to premature spinal disc degeneration, pain, and loss of function. Our program of spinal exercise and adjunctive therapies will assist in rehabilitating these structures.
Will My Pain Go Away For Good?
Although it is difficult to predict the future, experience has shown that most patients do find long-term relief or effective management of their pain when they complete the entire recommended program of treatments. Regular home exercise will help in maintaining your spinal health and reduce the probability of reoccurrence. As with any comprehensive rehabilitation program, your continued home care exercises and discretion in some daily activities are essential to long-term relief.
How Much Will Physical Therapy and Spinal Decompression Cost?
Most physical therapy services are covered by your health insurance and patients are typically responsible for co-payment, co-insurance, and / or insurance deductibles. Since insurance coverage varies between insurance plans, our staff will review all costs, payment options, and insurance coverage before treatment begins.