Chiropractor Questions Chiropractic Adjustment

Is the traction table treatment permanent?

I have been suffering from sciatica pain and have started to visit a chiropractor for treatment. The doctor has been giving me traction table treatment, which has been really helpful. However, will this only help me temporarily?

14 Answers

Hard to say without all the info. I would consult the treating doctor. No good Chiropractor wants to TREAT people forever, but we do want to help Maintain their health. Perhaps your monthly maintenance visit can simply include the traction machine which seems to be working. Hope i helped, Got your back! Dr. Todd Gewant
That traction technique is a very useful and beneficial method of alleviating pain. Whether it is a permanent fix or not all depends on the nature and severity of your specific situation. Talk to your chiropractor about your concerns.
This depends on what is causing your sciatica. If you have been diagnosed with a disk injury that is correlating with the sciatic symptoms you are having, then most likely it will. Decompression is very effective at helping to minimize the size and severity of the bulge that is pressing on the nerve tissue. Now keep in mind, you have an injured disk and it will always be prone to further damage resulting in return of your sciatica. But the same stands true for other treatment options as well. So for disk related sciatica, you should get lasting relief unless the disk injury recurs. Which it most likely will not if you exercise and work on core stability and take care of your back. :)

To put this in focus, I see 10-20 new patients a week. Every week a few of those patients are presenting with sciatica. Out of all of those, maybe 1 every couple months is a disk problem. All the rest are stemming from an SI joint problem in the pelvis.

Now, if your sciatica is coming from Piriformis Syndrome secondary to a Subluxated SI-Joint then it will be temporary. Long story short. Something irritated your SI-Joint, the joint between your tailbone and your pelvic bone, so your body is spasming muscles to act as a splint to protect the SI Joint. One of those muscles, the piriformis which connects from your tailbone to the top of your leg and sits deep in your glutes, will spasm pressing the sciatic nerve against the pelvis causing your sciatica. The decompression can help release some tension and pressure which gives some relief as the muscle relaxes a bit. But as soon as you stop treatment and get back to life its just a matter of time before the muscles get tighter again and the sciatica returns. In this case you would need a course of chiropractic treatment to restore the normal function to the SI-Joint to correct the problem. And if this IS your problem, don't stop treatment too early! I see that way too often. These tend to be chronic problems surrounded by the largest most powerful muscles in our body that are always moving. The muscle memory is strongly ingrained. You don't need a lot of treatment and symptoms tend to resolve fairly fast which is why people tend to stop treatment based on how they FEEL. BUT you NEED to continue treatment the better part of a year to resolve it. After the short course of more frequent adjustments to get the function back you need to maintain at around every 2 weeks, so 2 times a month, to make sure you keep the proper function of the pelvis so the brain can relearn how to move the muscles properly to control the joint and how you move. Think of it like it's the retainer you wear after your braces come off. Your brain has to relearn how to control the movement with walking, running, standing, sitting, and anything else you do. SI Joint dysfunction is a common problem and comes about for many reasons, falls, sitting on bad chairs, improper sleeping position, stress playing sports and the list goes on. So not only are we treating this current problem we need to mitigate the continued irritations that are happening during the treatment and stabilization time. Chiropractic care is very good at handling sciatica if done properly.

The reason I'm spending the time to try and explain why and why not you would use decompression treatment for sciatica is for what I see out in the profession. For disk injuries decompression is a great treatment. Whether its inversion, manual decompression in the doctors office (what I do in my office), or teched out mechanical decompression. They all work well for this problem. But there are some very expensive mechanical decompression tables out there marketed to doctors complete with staff training and marketing materials to get the patients in and signed up for treatment. I see offices, not all of them, but some, where now that they are trying to pay the lease on that $90,000 piece of equipment, everyone who walks into their office is now a candidate for decompression therapy. I see this treatment over utilized on patients very often where this is really not the best treatment for them.

So for the right problem decompression can be very helpful and produce lasting results. Used for the wrong problem it most likely will be a temporary solution.
The results will last longer and longer with each visit. I recommend seeing your chiropractor twice per year for maintenance, just as you would a dentist.
Yes, traction doesn't address the subluxation component
No---continued use will increase the disc space and it will last for awhile
A lot depends on what is causing the sciatica. Is it a bulging/protruding disc or just due to spinal misalignment? Because the spine is a biomechanical structure made up of many parts conditions can recur and because most of them develop over a long period of time they are all in some degree chronic. In my opinion no condition of the spine is permanently "fixable" to the point that the patient will never have some recurring episodes of discomfort. Traction is an adjunctive therapy that helps the patient's progress of becoming pain free at a more accelerated rare by increasing spinal mobilization and reducing muscle tension. Once a patient has reached maximum medical improvement and is put on supportive treatment, usually one visit every 4-6 weeks, traction is sometimes used to help the manipulation of the spine on these subsequent visits be more affective and the effects last longer.
Nothing is permanent, but I've had people not return for treatment for 5 yrs, 10 yrs, and more bc they still felt well. I have also had several patients on monthly maintenance for years. Every case is unique!
Given that there is no guarantee's in any form of healthcare, that question cannot be fully answered. Rather, I can give you the mechanisms for how sciatica(given you have a disc herniation) heals. If indeed the sciatica is due to a disc herniation, having the traction done will create a negative pressure in the disc space between the vertebrae, this will act to "suction" the disc back into it's original position. However, the body still needs to heal this as it is an injury, and you need to make sure not to get overzealous with any lifting or movements for awhile until the body does heal the damaged tissue.
All treatment without rehab will be temporary. The goal of traction is to separate the vertebrae allowing spinal discs to rehydrate and relieve pressure. When it’s done, the disc wants to collapse again. Done consistently, it helps to stretch it a bit more which can keep pressure off. When we used traction, we always followed it up with spinal stability exercises in laying down and standing position to retrain spinal muscles for a more “permanent fix.” Make sure they are doing those or start yourself.

It also depends on how bad the disc started at. Very collapsed means very weak so may not be as effective long term. If your sciatica has been helped, that’s a great sign. Keep it up.

Vishal K. Verma, DC, CCSP

After your condition has stabilized, you will always have to do maintenance. Any machine you don’t maintain falls apart! See your care at the chiropractor as a lifestyle, not a treatment. Just like brushing teeth, cutting hair, clipping fingernails, etc. Your spine, discs, and nerves will thank you for it!
If consistent with prescribed exercises the results are permanent.
Regular spinal maintenance is recommended. It's like brushing your teeth. You will always have to do it to prevent cavities. If you want to prevent the pain from returning then 1x to 2x a month is usually sufficient
It is not the traction table that is permanent. It is like you ask if the traction table prevents you from future flare-ups or injury. Therefore, to answer your questions, the traction table helps to address the current problem, but it does not prevent you from any future injuries or flare-ups. An analogy is that if you ask if antibiotics are permanent, but one who gets treated by antibiotics may have an infection in the future again and require antibiotics.