What Is Flexion Distraction Therapy?

March 10, 2021

Don’t get used to lower back pain!

Find out how flexion distraction therapy can help.   Lower back pain is extremely common here in America. Other than upper respiratory infections, back pain is the most common reason for visiting a doctor. But just because pain, numbness, tingling, or other symptoms have become a part of your daily life, doesn’t mean things should stay that way. And your friendly neighborhood chiropractor can help. At Oviedo Chiropractic, one of the (many) methods we use to relieve pain is a technique called flexion distraction. In this article, we’ll discuss what this technique is, who it can benefit, and why you’ll want to give it a try as soon as possible.  

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Inside Your Discs

Before we go into what flexion distraction is, it might help to take a closer look at what this form of therapy treats: namely, your spinal discs. Your spine consists of a stack of vertebrae separated from each other by spongy discs. These discs provide cushion and lubrication so your joints can move freely and without pain. Without spinal discs, your bones would rub against each other, causing extreme pain and stiffness (as  anyone with arthritis can tell you). Flexion distraction therapy works wonders on compressed discs. While this spongy, flexible material is the perfect choice for cushioning hardworking joints, it also comes with a drawback. Throughout the day, gravity pulls down on your body, squeezing and compressing your discs. If you’re dehydrated, the effect is even worse.  

What is Flexion Distraction?

Flexion distraction therapy aims to reverse spinal disc compression by gently stretching your spine. A special table (sometimes called a Hill table) provides the movement necessary to stretch your spine. You lie face down on this table and your chiropractor secures your ankles using a comfortable strap. Next, the table will move the lower half of your body up and down in a slow, rhythmic motion.   As your feet lower to the floor, your chiropractor may also provide gentle pressure to your spine to enhance the effect. This movement gently stretches your spine, pulling the vertebrae further apart. Since your discs are flexible and spongy, they are decompressed and restored to their natural state. This is similar to how you would clean a sponge in your sink. (In fact, make sure you drink plenty of water after your appointment, as this is when your discs are most able to absorb hydration.)  

Benefits of Flexion Distraction

The most immediate and significant benefit of flexion distraction is reduced pressure on your spinal discs. Intradiscal pressure can be caused by a number of factors, but one of the biggest culprits is too much sitting. Sitting for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your body and is a major contributor to compressed discs. Flexion distraction therapy not only gives your joints the maximum amount of cushion and support, it relieves pressure on the nerves running to and from the spine as well. Referred pain—which occurs when a nerve within the spine is compressed and sends a pain signal to another area of the body—is well treated with this therapy. silhouette of person riding bike at sunset Other benefits of flexion distraction include:
  • Improved range of motion;
  • Treatment for herniated or prolapsed discs;
  • Reduction in stiffness, pain, headaches, and numbness; and
  • Improved posture.
Flexion distraction is even gentle enough to be used following back surgery and on those with osteoporosis.  

Flexion Distraction vs. Spinal Decompression

If you are familiar with chiropractic care, you may also be familiar with spinal decompression. While this technique also aims to decrease pressure on the spinal discs, it differs from flexion distraction in a couple of significant ways. First of all, rather than bending your body at the waist, spinal decompression tables stretch your spine in a straight line. This method is not as gentle nor as effective as flexion distraction. Second, most patients find spinal decompression to be more uncomfortable than flexion distraction. Motorized tables can place stress on other areas of the body and inversion tables are likely to cause headaches and put you at risk of having a stroke. Further, current research has found that because they stretch the spine from the back of your spine (rather than the front), these types of spinal decompression tables are simply not as effective as flexion distraction. At Oviedo Chiropractic, we rely solely on flexion distraction to provide the necessary stretch to compressed spinal discs, as we have found that this treatment is far more comfortable and effective than other treatment methods.  

Drug-Free Pain Relief

Why should you try flexion distraction? This gentle, effective technique—like other forms of chiropractic care—treats the underlying condition, not just your symptoms. Most patients find that chiropractic adjustments, flexion distraction, e-stim treatments, and massage therapy prevent the need for drugs and surgery (without the side effects or long recovery times). If you’re in pain following a car accident, work accident, or just a day at the office, schedule your appointment at Oviedo Chiropractic.
Justin Cough

Dr. Justin Cough, D.C.

Dr. Cough graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, FL after receiving his BS in Education from SUNY Oswego. Before becoming a chiropractor, he coached many middle and high school sports teams including football, lacrosse, basketball, and soccer. He is passionate about focusing on our bodies' natural healing mechanisms and helping his patients enjoy the utmost sustainability in their lives.

For some, chiropractic offers relief from pain. For others, it's about feeling and looking good. Call today and see what chiropractic can do for you!

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Oviedo Chiropractic

2871 Clayton Crossing Way Suite 1073
Oviedo, FL 32765
(407) 542-1614
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