Skip to main content

Decompression FAQs


If you or a loved one is suffering from disc herniation(s), degenerative joint disease, sciatica or other painful back or neck problems...

There is a very good chance that non-surgical spinal 
decompression therapy will be music to your ears.

This treatment has helped thousands of back pain sufferers, even after over-the-counter drugs, injections and surgery have not worked.

How powerless is it to hear "We've done all we can do for you, you're just gonna have to live with the pain."

Guess what, you may not have to live with the pain ANYMORE!

Non-surgical spinal decompression is in the process of making spinal surgery and other back pain treatments much less popular.

And why not? Who wants surgery, which is often unsuccessful and when there is an alternative? Surgery is invasive, from the anesthesia to the severing of tissue. 

Furthermore, back surgery presents significant risks including worse pain compared to pre-surgery and even severe adverse complications.

On the other hand, Spinal Decompression Therapy does not utilize drugs or surgery and has had very impressive results.

Won't the Pain Go Away on its Own?

There are 7 simple words that threaten to drastically affect the rest of your life. Those words are, “It will go away all itself "

If those words have crossed your mind, here are some facts that you need to consider:

⋅80-90% of all adults will suffer with low back pain at some time in there life.5

⋅Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability for people under 45 years of age. 6

⋅Lower back pain is the second leading cause of visits to doctors' offices.7

⋅Lower back pain is the third leading reason for hospital admissions. 8

⋅Annual costs of back pain in the U.S. range from $20-$75 billion, and as much as $100 billion worldwide. 9

⋅According to Met Life Insurance statistics, the average back treated medically without surgery costs $7,210 and the average back treated surgically costs $13,990.10

⋅Statistics indicate that 15-20% of the population has lower back pain in any given year ...approximately 32 million cases. 11

And when it comes to the pain just going away by itself, a study in the British Medical Journal proved this myth to be false. Here are the eye opening results regarding patients 12 months after initial medical consultation:

⋅No pain & No Disability............. 25%

⋅Pain OR Disability ..................... 25%

⋅Pain AND Disability.................. 50%

The authors of the study concluded:

"This takes account of two consistent observations about lower back pain: firstly, a previous episode of lower back pain is the strongest risk factor for a new episode, and secondly, by age 30 years almost half the population will have experienced a substantive episode of lower back pain. These figures simply do not fit with claims that 90% of episodes of low back pain end in complete recovery." 12

Our conclusion....75% of back pain sufferers will have either pain or disability or pain AND disability one year after their initial consultation to a medical doctor...and it is clear that back pain does NOT usually get better without PROPER treatment.

The Disc and How It Causes Pain

Your spine is similar to 24 blocks stacked on top of each other. Between each set of blocks is a disc.

Discs are similar to a shock absorber on your car's suspension. The outside of the disc is made up of tough fibers called the annulus fibrosus and the inside has a soft, jelly like substance, the nucleus pulposus.

When your disc is injured or torn, the jelly-like substance on the inside can protrude or leak out. This is called a herniated disc. This substance is highly irritating to the surrounding anatomy and is a source of pain.

If the outer material is not torn, discs can bulge - without herniating. This is similar to stepping on a balloon when it doesn't pop. The balloon bulges out to one side or the other without the rubber breaking.

As you probably know, bulging or herniated discs are a major cause of back pain. These conditions can also cause nerves to be pinched that can cause pain or loss of sensation in your extremities including legs, arms, toes, etc.

What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal Decompression Therapy is FDA cleared and has a very high success rate for pain associated with herniated or bulging discs...even after failed surgery.

It is a non-surgical, decompressive therapy for the relief of back and leg pain or neck and arm pain. During this procedure, by cycling through distraction and relaxation phases and by proper positioning, a spinal disc in the neck or low back can be isolated and placed under negative pressure, causing a vacuum effect within it.

What can this vacuum effect do?

The vacuum effect accomplishes two things. From a mechanical standpoint, disc material that has protruded or herniated outside the normal confines of the disc can be pulled back within the disc by the vacuum created within the disc.

Also, the vacuum within the disc stimulates growth of blood supply, secondarily stimulating a healing response. This results in pain reduction and proper healing at the injured site.

What decompression system is used for this purpose?

After a significant amount of research, the Stewart Clinic chose what we believe to be the most sophisticated, technologically advanced, state-of-the-art decompression in the world.

We also selected this system due to its ability to treat discs in both the neck and the low back.

How is Spinal Decompression Therapy different from regular traction?

The computer head is the key. The preprogrammed patterns for ramping up and down the amount of axial distraction allows for higher levels of spinal decompression and disc rehydration.

Who can benefit from Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Anyone who has back pain or neck pain caused in whole or in part by a damaged disc may be helped by spinal decompression therapy.

These conditions include

⋅Herniated, protruding or bulging discs,

⋅Spinal stenosis

⋅Facet syndrome

⋅Arm or leg pain/numbness.

Are there medical studies that document the effectiveness of Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Most certainly! One study documented by MRI up to 90% reduction of disc herniations in 10 of 14 cases!

Other studies have reported that the majority of ruptured disc patients achieved "good" (50-89% improvement) to "excellent (90-100% improvement) results after spinal decompression therapy!

Are there conditions where Spinal Decompression Therapy is not indicated?

Spinal decompression therapy is not recommended for pregnant women, patients who have severe osteoporosis, severe obesity or severe nerve damage. Spinal surgery with instrumentation (screws, metal plates or “cages”) is also contraindicated.

However, spinal decompression therapy after bone fusion or non-fusion surgery, can be performed.

Are the sessions painful?

In almost all cases, the treatments are completely painless. In fact, some patients fall asleep during the spinal decompression session.

How many sessions will be needed and what is the cost?

The specific treatment plan will be determined by the doctor after your examination.

Our fee for each spinal decompression therapy session is only $55. (If you prepay for the scheduled course of care). If you “pay as you go”, our regular fee is $75 per session. That’s a $20 per session savings.

Do most patients receive therapy and rehabilitative exercises in addition to Spinal Decompression Therapy?

To reduce inflammation and assist the healing process, supporting structures are treated with passive therapies (ice/heat/muscle stimulation), chiropractic adjustments (as indicated) and/or active rehabilitation in order to strengthen the spinal musculature.

How do I get started?

We want make it easy for you to learn if you are a candidate for Spinal Decompression Therapy. Just bring this report with you on your first visit and you will receive a complete evaluation - including consultation, history, orthopedic/neurological testing, X-rays (if indicated) and report of findings for $75.

Need More Information?

If you need any additional information, please call our office at 706-543-2584 and ask to speak to me. That's right, I'll talk to you personally in order to help you make the right decision. I look forward to having the opportunity to help you. So please…call today!


Douglas L. Giles, DC

2425 W Broad St
Athens, Ga 30606

PS: Remember, for only $75, you can learn if you are candidate for Spinal Decompression Therapy! Why continue to suffer when the solution might be only a phone call away?

PPS: One last thing. If I determine that you are not a candidate for Spinal Decompression Therapy, I will tell you that and work to refer to you a doctor who can hopefully help you.


Gionis. Thomas. MD, JD, MBA, FICA, FRCS et al. The outcome of a clinical study evaluating the effect of nonsurgical intervention on symptoms of spine patients with herniaated and degenerative disc disease is presented. Spinal Decompression, Orthopedic Technological Review. November/December 200: Volume 5. Number 6: Pages cover. 36-39.
Eyerman, Edward. M.D. MRI Evidence of Nonsurgical, Mechanical Reduction, Rehydration and Repair of the Herniated Lumbar Disc. Journal of Neuroimaging Volume 8 / Number 2 April 1998
Shealy. Norman C.. M.D.. Ph.D.. F.A.C.S. New Concepts in Back Pain Management: Decompression, Reduction, and Stabilization. Pain Management Volume 1. 1998. pgs. 259-257
Eyerman, Edward. M.D. MRI Evidence of Nonsurgical, Mechanical Reduction, Rehydration and Repair of the Herniated Lumbar Disc. Journal of Neuroimaging Volume 8 / Number 2 April 1998
Bigos S. et al. Acute Low Back Problems in Adults, Clinical Practice Guideline No. 14. Rockville, MD: U.S. Public Health Service, Dept. of Health and Human Services. AHCPR pub. No 95-0642, Dec. 1994.
Mushinski M. Average hospital charges for medical and surgical treatment of back problems: United States. 1993. Statistical Bulletin. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Health and Safety Division. Medical Dept., April-June 1995.
Bigos S. et al. Acute Low Back Problems in Adults, Clinical Practice Guideline No. 14. Rockville, MD: U.S. Public Health Service, Dept. of Health and Human Services. AHCPR pub. No 95-0642, Dec. 1994.
Croft, Peter, et al,. Outcome of Low Back Pain in General Practice: A Prospective Study. British Medical Journal 1998: 316 : 1356-1359 (2 May).
Eyerman, Edward. Simple Pelvic Traction Gives Inconsistent Rellief to Herniated Disc Sufferers. Journal of Neuroimaging, June 1998.
Shealy, C. Norman, Borgmeyer, Vera. Decompression, Reduction, and Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine: A Cost-Effective Treatment for Lumbosacral Pain. American Journal of Pain Management Vol. 7 No. 2 April 1997.