Lower back pain is nothing less than debilitating. And between pain medicines, massage, chiropractic, pain injections, core exercises and surgical options, there is no shortage of ways to manage it.
One controversial approach to managing back pain and improving overall spine health is with an inversion table.
The questions are ‘is an inversion table effective?’ and ‘is it a good fit for my spine?’
First… A Very Short Anatomy Lesson
Your spinal column is made up of vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other from about the level of your belly button up to your head.
While the spine is designed to provide protection for the spinal cord as well as keep you upright much as a pole might keep a tent erect, its design also allows you to bend, twist, rotate, and otherwise move your upper body in every direction.
The bones themselves do not actually bend or twist. The mobility stems from the joints formed by each spinal bone joining up with the one below and above. Between each set of spinal bones is a disc (called an inter-vertebral disc) which connects to the spinal bone above and below it.
The discs not only act as shock absorbers but also have the added burden of creating a space between the spinal bone above and below is so that nerves branching out from the spinal cord to all areas of the body including muscles, organs and skin.
The discs are made of tough rings of fibrous elastic material called cartilage. At the center of the outer tough rings is a thick fluid with the consistency of thick molasses.
Secondary to old injuries and micro-trauma (i.e. sitting long periods, repetitive work, bad posture, etc) the discs and joints can get compressed and degenerate prematurely over time.
The Role of the Inversion Table
While the disc has a limited blood supply and thus cannot easily heal once compressed or degenerated or damaged, some studies indicate that the disc does have some nutrient supply arising from load-induced fluid movement in and out of the disc.
Research is controversial on how much nutrient 홀덤 supply the disc can obtain by compressing and decompressing it.
Why is this important?
In short, if the disc is not getting nutrients in some way, it will be begin to break down or degrade. As noted above, once this occurs it is not going regenerate or heal – at least not in an adult.
The role of the inversion table is to essentially decompress or stretch the discs and joints in the spine. Although controversial on the benefit, in theory you are reducing pressure on the tissues around the nerves that exit out between the spinal bones while also helping to improve the amount of nutrients and blood flow to the area.
Is Inversion Right for You?
Whether or not an inversion table is the right for you to add as part of your spine health and maintenance regimen really depends on two factors.
First, does it give you pain relief? If using it reduces any pain you are experiencing at that time then it’s a no-brainer that an inversion table is a great fit for you; for that reason alone.
Second, does it improve function with long-term use? If it improves your ability to walk, lift, exercise, sit at work comfortably, work in the yard, do house work or any other activity of daily living then it is again a great asset for you.