Many people turn to inversion therapy in an effort to relieve back pain. The process involves hanging upside down. This treatment usually provides temporary relief, but those who have high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma must be careful before undergoing this treatment because the head-down position may potentially aggravate these conditions. Even though inversion therapy may not work for everyone, there has been some evidence to support its potential effectiveness to treat back pain.
For instance, the Mayo Clinic explains that some people find this treatment useful for temporary relief as part of a more comprehensive treatment when back pain occurs because of spinal disk compression, but it is not without some risks. Inversion therapy provides this relief by taking gravitational pressure off the nerve roots and disks in the spine to increase the space between the vertebrae. However, it is important to use this treatment in short spurts because it slows the heartbeat and increases the blood pressure when inversion takes place for more than a couple of minutes. This makes it potentially hazardous to those with high blood pressure, heart disease and glaucoma.
Some studies have also shown that inversion therapy does cause some traction force through the lumbar spine, as much as three millimeters of separation between lumbar vertebrae. Furthermore, some doctors and physical therapists also recommend the practice to relieve pain from symptoms associated with spinal conditions.
One of the most attractive benefits of using an inversion table is that patients can perform treatment right at home. They can use either inversion tables or inversion chairs to achieve the required position to relieve back pain. Both devices have their pros and cons, so patients should find out exactly how each one works before making an investment in a device.
For instance, many people choose to go with an inversion table because it is an aggressive treatment and provides full inversion. With the inversion table, the patient is suspended upside down while hanging from anti-gravity boots. However, achieving this position with the table may be hard on the ankles and knees at first. Furthermore, the patient usually needs to have a second person as a spotter and assistant. Still, people who find that full inversion works best for them may get the most out of an inversion table.
People who do not want to use an inversion table often opt for the alternative, an inversion chair. The patient keeps a seated position but still puts the head below the feet. The chair helps put less pressure on the leg joints and creates better balance and blood pressure equalizing. Not only can patients use this device alone, but they also get a less aggressive treatment with only a percentage of inversion that has the same anti-gravitational effect on the body.
An inversion chair also offers better posture support and control for the pelvis and lumbar spine without creating too much arching or force on the sensitive posterior column of the spine. When done correctly, inversion has the desired benefits including less spinal disc pain, painful muscle spasms and joint pain. However, patients who decide to try this therapy must learn to ease into it a few degrees and minutes at a time.
Is Inversion Therapy Right for You?
Inversion therapy is not without its detractors, but many patients who use it find it an easy and effective way to temporary relief for their back pain. Of course, speaking with a physician or physical therapist helps determine not only whether or not inversion is the right course for treatment but also helps patients to determine whether or not they find themselves within the risk group of those who should not use this particular treatment.