Spinal Decompression: Oh, What A Relief It Is!

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At first glance, I thought I’d drifted back to the Middle Ages where  the acceptence of torture chambers was more common place. Instead, the modern, massive, machine hovering in front of me was no form of punishment, but actually  a gentle giant who would assist me in straightening my spine. I   excitedly, and nervously, awaited  my first round of spinal decompression.

Just the word spinal decompression sounds painful. As a chiropractic rookie, I had never even heard of this procedure. Yet, something about that contraption intrigued me as soon as I fixed my eyes on it. 6 months into my weekly  adjustments, I became brave enough to ask Dr. Cris what that machine did and was it in my future?

She was very hopeful that it was in my future especially since its purpose is to carefully and gently elongate the spine over a long petiod of time. Although my body still needed to build more strength, Dr. Cris felt that spinal decompression would be immensely beneficial down the road since 3 disks in my spine had become compressed due to sitting in a wheelchair for close to 35 years.

These 3 disks repeatedly caused muscle tightness. Their relentless grip would throw my  hip and  SI joint out  resulting in a habitual state of discomfort or pain. For the past few years the right side of my body has felt different than the left side. The left side has less flexibility, but is, also, the closest to “normal” as I remember it. The right side is almost overly flexible, while muscle spasms create a constant state of tightness that no stretch can remedy. The goal of spinal decompression is to relieve the disks of pressure as the machine lengthens the spine. In turn, this will allow the opposite sides of my body to start “equaling” out.

The day is finally here! After two and a half years of countless adjustments and strength training sessions, I  am finally ready for my first round of spinal decompression (also known as Accu-Spina).

Typically, the average patient has a harness placed upon their waist while in a standing position. The harness has 2 straps hanging down, off of the front of the harness, and 2 symmetrical straps hanging down from the back of the harness.The patient then steps backwards into the machine and, while standing, places their back against a vertical bed. The machine slowly tilts the patient back, horizontally, with their body laying flat 4 feet above the floor. Think of an SUV being lifted on a flatbed tow truck. Next, the harness straps are adjusted to fit super tight so it doesn’t slide off the patient’s waist during the procedure. The 4 straps dangling from the waist are gathered and connected by a metal loop between the person’s legs. The loop is, then, hooked to a pulley on the Acca-Spina machine. Lastly, Dr. Cris programs the computer, telling it how much tension to place on the pulley. The pulley mildly tugs on the spine for about twelve, 2 minute increments, totalling about 24 minutes. In order to receive  maximum benefit, relaxation is key. The table vibrates and warms your back, helping loosen tight muscles while allowing your spine to stretch.

Luckily, the majority of my spinal decompression treatment went off without a hitch. Of course, my experiences are never conventional. That would be too boring! The only easy way to get on the machine is by standing. Minor dilemma, huh? Thankfully, I was aware of this beforehand. My gracious trainer, Bob, saved the day by lifting me up on the 4 foot table, holding my knees during the procedure so they wouldn’t fly off the table, and then getting me off of the table, safely  back into my wheelchair. Without Bob taking time out of his busy day, this procedure would not be possible!

Immediately and surprisingly, both sides of my body felt more symmetrical. My hips and SI felt so stabilized that I forgot to put on my back brace for the ride home. EVERYTHING just felt better.

Monday was my inagrual workout day after “Spina”… THE TRUE TEST! I crawled down the hallway in record time, even Bob couldn’t believe it! Wednesday’s pool workout was one surprise after another. My backstroke was not only faster, but my right and left sides had a distinct synchronicity, allowing me to swim in a straighter line. Then, as I walked in the pool with 7.5 pounds of weight on my ankles, my strides were about a foot wider than my normal steps. This was definitely reflected in my times since I was shaving off about 20 seconds from my average record.

I’ve been extremely active this week due to the confidence I have that my SI won’t go out. I’m finally feeling like my old self again. It’s been a long road, but I can’t express how good it feels to feel good!!

My entire life I’ve been closed off to chiropractors and any related device. I am very blessed that God has opened my mind, guiding me towards a more holistic approach to medicine; these amazing people and new procedures are aiding my body, mind, and spirit to gain strength every day!