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Brett Sears

Do Inversion Tables Help Low Back Pain?

By January 22, 2012

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An inversion table. Image: Price Grabber.com I am often asked in the clinic if inversion tables really work for people with low back pain (LBP). Many of my patients have seen advertisements on TV or on the internet that promise pain relief and functional improvement with the use of inversion tables. But do inversion tables really help low back pain?

While doing some research into the benefits and risks of inversion therapy, also known as gravitational traction, I came across a study by Tekeoglu, et al. The study measured the amount of traction that was achieved by using inversion tables. Thirty people with low back pain were put on an inversion table and x-rays were used to measure the amount of separation of the lumbar vertebrae that occurred. A group of 30 people with no LBP were also measured.

The results indicate that both the LBP group and the no-LBP group showed distraction of the spinal bones during gravitational traction. Therefore, gravitational traction may be effective in separating the lumbar vertebrae.

Sounds great, right? But wait...does inversion traction help low back pain? While researching, I came across a website that cited the study by Tekeoglu. This website concluded that gravitational traction is effective for low back pain. Hmm. Wait a minute. The real study said that the inversion provided traction, not relief from LBP. And many high quality studies have shown that traction is not very effective in the treatment of LBP.

When choosing the treatment or modality you use to treat low back pain (or any other medical condition) you must be careful about evaluating the research. Sometimes the conclusions drawn by one group may be different than the conclusions published by the actual researchers.

The risks of inversion tables (changes in heart rate, blood pressure and eye pressure) might possibly outweigh the benefits of (maybe) reduced low back pain. Plus, inversion tables can be quite expensive.

A proven low cost treatment for LBP is postural correction and low back exercises. Your physical therapist can teach you how to care for your own back and prevent future problems with your condition.

Special thanks to my friend Debbie Colgrove, the Guide to Sewing at About.com, for asking me to investigate this topic for her.

Photo: Pricegrabber.com.

Source: Tekeoglu I, Adak B, et al. Distraction of lumbar vertebrae in gravitational traction. Spine, May 1998;23(9), pp1061-64

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Comments
January 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm
(1) Brad says:

Thank you for sharing this.

January 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm
(2) physicaltherapy says:

Brad,
Thanks for reading. If you are suffering from low back pain or sciatica, physical therapy may be the right treatment for your specific problem. ~Brett

January 26, 2012 at 10:46 pm
(3) Brad says:

Brett-

I have found a number of exercises which have helped alleviate my sciatica. I am grateful that you have taken the time to share your expertise on this subject.

January 28, 2012 at 11:18 am
(4) pack pain relief products says:

Very good blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get responses from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Appreciate it!

January 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm
(5) physicaltherapy says:

You can start a conversation in the physicaltherapy.about.com forum. Just click on the “Forum” link on this page. ~BS

April 16, 2012 at 9:44 am
(6) Michael K. Hill says:

Brett, thank you for sharing!

This is really a great help for such people who suffer from low back pain.
My mom has this problem and we’ll definitely visit this site!
It’s cool!

August 13, 2012 at 7:50 am
(7) Katherine M. Myers says:

Thanks Brett!
The pain in the back is what practically ruins my life…I think I’ll try your approach. At least I hope it will help.Something just must help!

August 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm
(8) physicaltherapy says:

Katherine,
Thanks for reading, and good luck treating your own low back pain.
Brett

October 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm
(9) Angelo says:

Hello There. I found your weblog the use of msn.

This is a really neatly written article. I will make sure
to bookmark it and return to read more of your helpful info.
Thank you for the post. I will definitely comeback.

October 23, 2012 at 6:28 am
(10) chocolate cookies recipe from scratch says:

There is certainly a lot to know about this issue.
I like all of the points you have made.

November 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm
(11) Albert says:

Ha! A physical therapy site which condones the inversion method. Well no (*) they have things against it, they just want you to waste your money on physical therapy which is far more expensive. I stopped all that physical therapy and chiropractic crap and my inversion table is far more effective with the one payment. Get one, you won’t be disappointed.

November 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm
(12) physicaltherapy says:

Albert,
Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you are getting some benefit from your inversion table. Good for you!

In my clinic, patients seen with low back pain average 4.7 visits to P.T. Round that up to 5, with an average co-payment of $25.00, and they have spent about $125.00 out-of-pocket dollars to treat their problem and to learn strategies to prevent future episodes. Perhaps about equal to what you paid for your inversion device.

And, please try to limit the use of the cuss words on the comments…makes me feel icky.

Thanks again,
Brett

November 24, 2012 at 11:16 am
(13) becki says:

I am a PT who has been out of orthopedics for some time. That being said, did you search for a study that investigates the relationship between traction and peripheral symptoms below the knee and/or radicular signs. Clinically, it seems that there may be a subset in this population that does respond to traction.

November 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm
(14) Lawest says:

I had good results with the table for LBP.

December 18, 2012 at 5:17 am
(15) John says:

(**) He has no idea what he is talking about, Inversion therapy can help with back pain Specially sciatica. The detraction helps alleviate the pressure and also take stress off the spine. Pt is something that should also be used to keep a healthy and correctly postured back.

I have done all, and continue to work out and use inversion therapy. What you put in is what you get out, thats especially the case in fitness and health.

His post is completely biased and slanted. As you are reading he clearly shows he favors PT. however he is also describing the method in question with pure ignorance. Albert btw… it definitely takes more than 5 PT visits to get that back pain taken care of and cost quite a bit… I mean 4.7 round to 5? Who the hell goes to PT 4.7 times? And in 5 sessions you’re back will not be close to being healed? Can you go to the gym 5 times and start to show muscle? Nope!

In concluding… This is just another one of those sites that proves not to believe anything you read on the internet, since these idiots are allowed to make post about (**) they have no idea over…

December 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm
(16) physicaltherapy says:

John,
First, thanks for taking the time to comment.
Second, please keep it cordial and clean. I’ve replaced some questionable content with the (** ).
Third, if you add up all the visits of all the patients who present to my clinic over a certain time period with a specific diagnosis code (let’s say 722.10, or lumbar disc displacement), and then divide those visits by the total number of patients, you get what is called an average. It’s math. That is how I get 4.7.
Fourth, I assume your sentence that starts with “The detraction…” should read “The distraction…”
Fifth, please post a citation for a double blinded, randomized, controlled trial that supports the use of inversion therapy.
Sixth, not all low back pain requires strengthening to improve. Sometimes range of motion or postural correction is enough to help.
Again, thanks for your insightful comment.
~Brett

December 26, 2012 at 9:08 am
(17) Mac says:

Thanks for posting this article. I believe that the more information available about the subject allows people the opportunity to make a better decision about the course of treatment that is right for them. My wife has an L5-S1 herniation, and unfortunately never found any benefit with pt. Her most recent therapist focused on very questionable exercises, and pain management meds. For a period of about three months, she stopped her prescribed treatment, and chose to focus on overall functional strength resistance training. After 18 months of seeing no beneficial changes in her pain levels, or back health, she began functional lifts, such as squats, dead lifts, and good mornings. For three months, her back health increased, and her pain levels decreased. Where she once could not stand upright for more than 30 minutes, she was now able to enjoy hiking again. After improving by leaps and bounds, she returned to her therapist for a check up. He seemed very pleased by her progress, until she described her regimen. He promptly put her on a traction machine, and she has been unable to do much of anything since. (cont)

December 26, 2012 at 9:10 am
(18) Mac says:

(cont) Facing surgery, we were scrambling for other options. I was hesitant about inversion therapy, due to the fact, it is considered a type of traction. After much research, and a better understanding of the differences of mechanical traction, and inversion therapy, we decided to bite the bullet, and invest in a table. I must say that it was the best decision that we have made. I don’t have any research, or double blind studies to back my findings. I only have my wife, that after trying everything minus surgery, is starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We hope to start her resistance training again in the future, once she feels that she is ready. There are many people who have seen benefit from pt, and I do believe it works in most cases. If it doesn’t work for you, my advice would be to research your other options. In our case, at least in the short term, it appears that the answer was inversion.

December 27, 2012 at 10:12 am
(19) physicaltherapy says:

Mac,
First, thanks so much for your insightful comments. I do hope your wife continues to improve and is able to get back to normal activities soon.

I am curious about why her therapist used traction for her upon returning for a checkup. When patients are improving by leaps and bounds with exercise, the use of a traction machine seems a bit unnecessary.

Of course, scientific studies are useful for looking at large groups of people and reporting on the effect of specific interventions with (hopefully) minimal bias from the researchers. But not one specific intervention is right for every person. Each person must do their own research into suggested interventions, and make informed decisions about his or her treatment and care. I’m glad you are finding some results with the inversion.

Again, thanks for commenting!

~Brett

January 2, 2013 at 11:12 am
(20) Freda says:

I think each case (lower back pain) is unique as the individual, there is no one size fit all. What works for some may not for others. I am skeptical of infommercials that benefit from your buying their product. I have been to physical therapy, had 3 series of injections and experienced some relief. The Dr. is recommending spinal lumbar fusion surgery…definitely want to explore all available treatments before committing to surgery. It helps to get an “unbiased” opinion to make an informed decision!

January 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm
(21) Raj Thapa says:

I am an owner of a simple but very well built Inversion Table (Samsclub.com purchase for approx $125 inclusive of shipping cost).
I am also a Mechanical Design Engineer by trade.
My personal experience with my Inversion Table is not related to relieving any lower back pain but to maintaining a healthy back and body.
Inversion therapy may not cure chronic lower back pain but it will definitely help to normalize the spinal shape back to its natural shape by helping to stretch and relax all muscles and tendons that attach to the spinal column.
Inverting and hanging upside down for 5 minute to 10 minutes (assuming you do not have high blood pressure problems, glaucoma or other issues that can prevent you from being inverted for 5 minutes), can definitely stretch all major core muscles and related tendons and all muscles and tendons attached and related to the spinal column.
Stretching muscles and tendons attached and related to the spinal column helps to normalize pulls and tension on the spinal column. This can lead to normal spine shape and vertebrae alignment.
Since in my assumption, all lower, mid or upper back pain and problems [which are NOT a result of accident related injuries or extreme sports activity related injuries] are a result of inactivity and no stretching regiments. Lack of physical activity plus stretching regiment can lead to unbalanced muscle pulls and tendon pulls on the spinal column.
Using an Inversion Table to Invert and stretch muscles attached to the spinal column [daily] will definitely help in reverting the spinal column shape to its original natural shape.
Inversion tables are CHEAP. Less than $150 for one as good as you need, ever. 5 minutes per day of inversion is enough also. 10 minutes will be even better helping to stretch and relax muscles and tendons for a longer period. Is this too much to dedicate yourself to and eliminate any future back pain and problems (other than accidents related)?

January 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm
(22) physicaltherapy says:

Thanks for the comment!
Brett

January 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm
(23) Kimberley Edwards says:

The best treatment, in my opinion and from my experience, for any back pain is a good chiropractor.
That being said, I have an inversion table, and using it provides immediate, if temporary, relief most low intensity back pain. I am only speaking from my personal experience and cannot speak at all to blood pressure, eye pressure etc except to say that it is really only meant to be done for 5 or maybe 10 minutes a day at any rate – you will find that being gripped by the ankles becomes increasingly uncomfortable and that in itself will limit the amount of time you can comfortably hang there, but the stretch it provides is very soothing and really helps unkink the little kinks in the back.

January 28, 2013 at 9:51 pm
(24) physicaltherapy says:

Good points Kimberley! Thanks for your comment.
Brett

February 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm
(25) Bill says:

Brett,
It seems all your research and comments dogging inversion therapy blew up in your face. By an inversion table and stay away from Brett.

February 4, 2013 at 9:20 pm
(26) physicaltherapy says:

Bill,
Thanks for your very insightful comment. My blog post doesn’t “dog” anything. It simply says that one study showed that inversion caused traction, and a website claimed that the study showed it helped low back pain. But that is not what the study concluded. Clearly, inversion helps people. That’s why some people are commenting at how much they love their inversion tables. But if we look at large groups of people and put them through randomized, controlled trials, the evidence stating that inversion is beneficial is lacking. Some studies even show that “standard physical therapy” care is lacking when it comes to LBP. But many studies support the use of exercise and postural correction for LBP.
I assume that you meant to write “Buy an inversion table…” and not “by an inversion table…” when you were taking a jab at me…eh?

Again, thanks for reading.
~Brett

February 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm
(27) Morgan says:

Thanks for all the posts, they have helped me figure out which way to go. Which way isn’t important but I had to say it’s nice to see Brett post this, comment on it and open up a conversation on it. It’s also worth saying he didn’t delete the foul worded comments, rather edited the words. It shows he’s not hiding any truth; rather trying to let us decide on our own. Thanks again for the post.

February 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm
(28) physicaltherapy says:

Morgan,
Thanks for your comment and your kind words, and thanks for reading.
~Brett

February 8, 2013 at 9:13 am
(29) Dr Hobbs says:

Hi Brett,
Man, you stick your head above the crowd and you’re bound to have tomatoes thrown at you, eh? As a chiropractic neurologist, I have been doing some informal work combining inversion table and manual tractionand manipulation with some patients suffering from lumbar radiculopathy (lower back nerve compression causing leg pain and often qualified for surgery). I haven’t seen enough to be certain, but I appreciate your pulling up some research. Your reference helped me find another published after you first commented. As you know one study alone is not conclusive, but it is quite suggestive. This one (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22263648) suggests that inversion may be quite helpful for this population. But I agree with you that caution should still be observed, and let’s do anything we can to help someone avert terribly invasive surgery.

February 10, 2013 at 8:58 pm
(30) physicaltherapy says:

Dr. Hobbs,
Thanks for your comment. I’ll keep ducking the tomotoes. I saw that study and it is quite suggestive. I’ve contacted the authors to get the full study, rather than just the abstract. The information is quite interesting in that both groups improved, but the inversion group seemed to avoid surgery. I’m intrigued, but I didn’t want to report on it until I got the full study. As you know, no single treatment is right for everyone. Every person is different and everyone’s LBP responds differently under different loads. Your statement about helping someone avert terribly invasive surgery is spot on. Of course, some folks need the surgery and do quite well with it…
Thanks again!
~Brett

February 28, 2013 at 12:41 am
(31) Bill says:

Brett,

Your own analysis is as flawed as your critique of a single website. You cite that “And many high quality studies have shown that traction is not very effective in the treatment of LBP.”. But we aren’t even talking about traction here are we? We are specifically referring to inversion, not to mention that your reference to “many high quality studies” is as specious and as irrelevant as the single website you attempt to discredit. Granted the Medical, Pharmaceutical and PT community has little to gain from a device that eliminate the need for all of them. And, why would someone fund a “high quality study ” for something that effectively put’s them out of work? I received an Inversion Table on Monday, I sit here on Wednesday night enjoying my first back pain free night in 11 years( without strong narcotics). IN TWO DAYS!!!!!! And the first day, I couldn’t figure out how to put it together. Maybe you haven’t ever suffered chronic LBP, but I am here to bear witness to it’s debilitating effects. These things work. I need no drug company or medical association studies to warrant that. I began feeling parts of my feet and legs today that I almost had forgotten existed.
Please stp being an apologist for the overlords and share the amazing stories of people who this is helping. I have been made consistently aware of numerous individuals(I did my homework) who had struggled through numerous surgeries only to find that this was the effective option for them.
Free at Last, Free at Last . Thank God Almighty I am Pain Free at Last

February 28, 2013 at 6:00 am
(32) physicaltherapy says:

Bill,
Thanks for sharing your amazing story. Glad things are working for you!
~Brett

February 28, 2013 at 11:48 am
(33) Elaine says:

I just received my inversion table and will wait for my husband’s return from work to assemble it, so the jury is still out for me. However, after reading many forums with the pros and cons, and since I do not have any of the risk factors (high BP, Glaucoma) I’m going to cautiously give it a shot. Will report back on my findings, but at this time I guess my comment is…at $129, after paying thousands for back surgery 15 years ago, now experiencing a flare up again with terrible sciatica, I find this a small price to pay to find out if this works! I am certain I’ve paid much more in years past for Rx drugs and “conventional” therapies that either caused side effects or were not effective. (Not only for back pain, but for various ills.) I go into this realizing I may be throwing $129 away, but to me that is a small price to pay to see if I can get some relief. As I say, been down the “surgery” road before, so paying $129 to explore this option is well worth it in my estimation!

That said, I am sorry, Brett, that some people can not offer an opinion without getting so hostile, using offensive language, etc. The mind and body all work together, so perhaps getting rid of some of their anger issues might help their back pain as well! :)

March 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm
(34) physicaltherapy says:

Elaine,
Thanks so much for your comment and kind words. I really hope you find the relief you are seeking. Please keep in touch and let us all know how things work out. Good luck getting rid of your sciatica. And good point about the mind-body connection!
Best,
~Brett

March 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm
(35) Buzz says:

I swear by these tables. I have had lower back pain for the past 10 years, that is all muscular related with at least 4 trips to the doctor a year. After having the table for the past year and using 3 times a week for about 2 minutes, I have had no relapse. A chiropactor will never recommend these tables because they work and you fall off their payroll with new lease on mobility.

March 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm
(36) Chanda says:

One of the reasons I have an interest in inversion tables is due to lower back pain. Part of my diagnosis was a reduction of fluid in my discs. From what I understand inversion therapy can temporarily help re-hydrate your discs. Do you know of any other methods that may help in re-hydrating your discs and/or prevent further dehydration?

March 14, 2013 at 11:45 am
(37) Pam says:

I have cervical radiculopathy in C6 which is causing burning, numbnes, tingling and pain in my arm and have been referred to a pain management center for a cervical transforaminal epidural steriod injection. After reading about the shot I am looking for an alternative, does anyone know if the inversion table will help with neck pain from degenerative bulging disc?

March 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm
(38) physicaltherapy says:

Pam,
I have recently teated a patient with low back pain who reports her inversion table helps her neck and shoulder pain, temporarily.
Brett

March 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm
(39) john g says:

I have bad lbp and find that inversion gives me the temporary relief that I need to do gentle back stretching exercises, it does not cure or fully remove the problem but it does help.

March 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm
(40) physicaltherapy says:

John,
Yes. I have had patients who also use inversion, but they seem to augment it with exercise. I did have a patient who uses inversion, but she notes that she travels quite a bit for work, so she needs other means (exercise) to control her pain while traveling.
Thanks,
Brett

April 5, 2013 at 7:17 am
(41) Stu says:

Brett,

Thanks for a great article. I wound up with an inversion table in my warehouse (I am a furniture mover) and was trying to get some information before trying it.

Stu

April 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm
(42) physicaltherapy says:

Stu,
Let us know how it works out!
Thanks,
Brett

April 23, 2013 at 11:26 am
(43) warner says:

john say’s that 5 visits show no muscle,WELL IF YOU ARE HEALTHY &EAT RIGHT YES I CAN GO TO A GYM & SHOW EXTREMELY GOOD MUSCLE STRUCTURE IN 5(FIVE) VISITS.I DO NOT WORK OUT,AS A MATTER OF FACT I AM DISABELED (LEGALLY ON SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY FOR CLOSE TO 30YEARS)
SO BASSICALLY JOHN IS FULL OF IT !!!!

April 29, 2013 at 8:24 am
(44) Steve Lockhart says:

I was interested in seeing what other inversion machines were on the market and read these posts. I was compelled to write as I have been successfully treating back pain and sciatica for 25 years so can tell you with absolute confidence and authority the facts. Of course I could talk on the subject ad lib for an hour and do on my website but will be brief here.
Physical therapy, surgery and chiropractic is an overpriced and pretty ineffective way to treat back pain and sciatica, primarily because they treat symptoms and look at the body as a sum of part rather than one integrated system.
Inversion machines generally fail because they put too much traction on the knees and ankles and dont allow you to do balanced exercises on them, i.e. stomach crunches AND back extensions while inverted.
continued…

April 29, 2013 at 8:25 am
(45) Steve Lockhart says:

Around 90% of back problems are set up from muscle imbalances allowing a body to sag under the weight of gravity and build pressure around the spinal segments and other joints. That’s where the pain and problems cvome from.
The best way to get lasting relief from back pain or sciatica is the have the muscle system rebalanced and ensure all of your muscles are functional and healthy. Stretches, surgery, adjustments, and exercises don’t do this.
There are always exceptions but very few dont respond to this approach. The greatest challenge you face is finding a therapist who can do this. The conventional ones can’t because they are not trained how and most don’t want to sweat it out over a body for an hour. They want to be a ‘consultant’ that passes on some stretches or exercises or do a 5 minute adjustment that is pretty much ineffective, for way too much money.
If your physio, surgery or chiropractic HAS worked for you it has only helped your body compensate, it hasn’t taken away the cause and given you a lasting cure.
I am not here trying to put anyone down, just wanted to tell you the absolute facts, 100% guaranteed. You can do what you wish with the information, ignore it or use it to further search out your cure, but be assured you have been told what you need to know.
Good luck everyone.

May 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm
(46) Mike says:

I can say that my inversion table has done wonders for my lower back pain and improved my posture. There was an instant improvement from day one.

May 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm
(47) Dorothy says:

I have a question for Steve. You spoke of rebalancing the muscle system. Where can I go to have this type of therapy done and what exactly is it called. Thanks.

May 17, 2013 at 2:30 am
(48) mike says:

ya stevo im very interested in rebalancing muscle just dont know where to start. I think you have exactly the right idea. I would like to hear more please

May 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm
(49) Darin Smith says:

Where do you get a back inverter for $129

June 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm
(50) Roy says:

I have had lower back pain and tried everything – the inversion table didn’t cure me but made a massive difference – it was the only thing that worked.

June 20, 2013 at 4:44 am
(51) Mom.in.pain says:

Hi Brett,
I have had LBP for approx. 10 years now. Doc says that I have degenerative disc disease and need spinal fusion. I have just started my research and stumbled on this thread. I have an inversion table set up in my house that I never use because it hurts my feet very badly. I am going to commit to it for a few weeks and report back. Right now I am backing off the Norco and then we’re going to do an epideral. Doc says it won’t work but we can try. I work out with a personal trainer to strengthen my back and core, have had extensive physical therapy, injections that didn’t work ( I think it was called a medial branch block) and I am at a loss. It seems that all the docs want to do is surgery, surgery, surgery. In your experience, what percentage of folks that have spinal fusion make a full recovery?

Like I said, I just started my research and you appear very knowledgeable so I would appreciate your input. BTW, love your responses to the meanies out there. Made me giggle!

July 10, 2013 at 10:21 pm
(52) physicaltherapy says:

Thanks for your comment.
It is tough to give a number to who gets better and who doesn’t after a fusion. I can say that 100% of my patients are encouraged to stay active, walk, and live a healthy lifestyle after a fusion surgery. Some choose to, others do not. Some folks get better after the surgery and don’t require and PT or rehab. Others seem to have a tough time getting going again. Back pain is a very tough condition to effectively treat, and the fusion surgery carries with it many risks. Good luck making the right choice. Glad I could make you giggle.

Brett

June 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm
(53) Stephanie says:

As someone who is new to the world of low back pain and sciatica, I appreciate all of the information that is available out there, including this article. I am finding that a multi-faceted approach is working well for me. Physical therapy, hot and cold therapy, chiropractor visits, the use of an inversion table, and my own efforts have brought me great relief.

Losing weight to take some strain off of my spine is helping, doing the prescribed stretches, performing low impact exercise, and sitting on a yoga ball (of all things) is helping me to feel better physically, and I’m also feeling more empowered…and not so helpless. I am very pleased with the results that my team and I have been able to achieve, since I did NOT want to be on pain meds, steroids, etc. I am not necessarily opposed to those options, I just wanted to do as much as I could (naturally) before turning to prescription medication. Thankfully, with the help of these professionals whose practices have beautifully complimented one another, I’ve been able to avoid taking anything stronger than occasional OTC pain relievers. I am also in better physical condition overall!

It is because people participate in these conversations that sufferers like me are able to find the information they need to make their own decisions. Whether you agree or disagree with this article, I think it’s important to encourage these conversations, and not attack the authors with whom we may differ in view(s). Thank you, sir, for weighing in, and for helping people like me find relief.

July 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm
(54) physicaltherapy says:

Stephanie,
Thanks for your comment! Yes, a multi-modal approach to care can be very helpful. Keep at it and hope all goes well.
Brett

July 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm
(55) instagram likes says:

I every time spent my half an hour to read this
web site’s articles all the time along with a mug of coffee.

July 4, 2013 at 5:05 am
(56) Scott Johnson says:

Chiropractic is the only true method for long term relief.

July 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm
(57) physicaltherapy says:

Scott,
Thanks for your comment. Chiropractic care is effective for many people, and studies show that chiropractic care can be helpful for low back pain.
~Brett

July 11, 2013 at 1:26 am
(58) Debbie says:

I have been researching the inversion tables and came across this site trying to see if, of course, the tables are worth it. There has been twice in my life that I could not walk, I’ve suffered from migraines for decades and have been unfortunate to have been in many auto accidents, that resulted in many whip lashes, chest, upper and lower back problems. What’s gotten be back on my feet is Chiropractic care and PT. Migraines are under control with medication, everything else was only temporary. Migraines were back in 3 – 4 days.
It has accrued to me in all my researching that no one has ever stated that everything DOES NOT work for EVERY body. What works for one does not all ways work for the other. For example I could not use the same diaper cream on my daughter as I did with my son that worked so will on him, it did nothing for her.
I am looking for my husband because he needs something to at home along with Chiropractor and exerciser, his left foot goes numb after he walks a while. We were thinking it might help too since it’s difficult to get to the Chiropractor on a weekly bases.

July 11, 2013 at 9:45 am
(59) Pinched Nerve says:

I think my pain is/was from a pinched nerve.
I have found that jogging keeps me from getting low back pain. weird.

July 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm
(60) Dr J Malay says:

Just as there are many causes of lower back pain in women and men, there are also many methods of treatment. It is imperative that medical professionals understand the benefits as well as the risks of any selected treatment.

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July 29, 2013 at 11:49 pm
(62) Dr Stan Rocklin says:

Just very pleased to find this site and using it to get an inversion table. I think that the website given you by the chiropractor (published by the National Institutes of Health) settles the argument about the pros & cons of inversion tables with it’s most scholarly research in favor of traction. Trick’d be to know just how much pressure and for how long. Thank you for publishing this worthwhile web page. Here’s that link again:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22263648

October 3, 2013 at 12:50 am
(63) B Ack says:

I think the best thing is to get a good doctor!

I’ve had lower back pain for as long as I could remember. My primary care doctor would every couple of years send me out for x-rays and MRIs for years and he would always come back saying it was arthritis or inflammation, by the time is was properly diagnosed turned out it was a shifted vertebra and bulging disc. That doctor referred me to a surgeon and pain clinic and their immediate response was I needed to have my nerves burned, injections and surgery!

I freaked but also though they were all nuts and luckily a coworker referred me to a great surgeon that said yes my back is screwed up but I need to try physical therapy first and believed the least invasive options first and surgery as a last alternative. Luckily my back has been stable the last two years but I do require regular pain medication. I have not been serious about the PT and in hindsight realize that was a big mistake as you really have to build up your supporting muscles to if anything delay the deterioration. I have started Yoga recently and was amazed how some of the moves were the same as what I (should be) doing in PT.

However I also decide to order an inversion table this week but still am not 100% behind if it will help. I realize it could also screw it bad up if done wrong. From what I have learned though studying is people with back issues or anyone for that matter – start out small, a 10% incline for 2-3 minutes is more tan enough as a start. I saw all these videos of people hanging but so few even pointed out, like everything you better start small and slowly increase.

I am fortunate that I did not have the surgery and realize how now two years later and it is painful but stable that had I been doing my back exercises regularly the last two years I could have done some real good. So my advice is do both, the POT and the inversion but be sensible and work up slowly and intelligently to improving as much as you can!

October 3, 2013 at 10:13 pm
(64) physicaltherapy says:

Hey B ack,
Some great advice. Not ONE treatment works for every person. Do your homework, be an advocate for yourself, and keep active.
Good luck, and thanks for your comment!
Brett

October 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm
(65) cy says:

I agree there is no ‘one size fits all’ treatment. Im 44, worked maual labor jobs most of my life and now sit behind a desk with lower activity levels which has brought on my LBP. I’ve been going through vax-d spinal decompression treatment now for 3 months and considering an inversion table to save me the $75 visits. I do feel much better, but also credit a good physical therapist to give me an exercise and stretching routine to improve core strength I think was a big factor to keep a new found posture in place. After years of weight lifting I couldn’t believe how weak my core was, and simple floor exercises and anything involving balancing helps (like stand up paddleboarding is awesome). Anyways, it’s good to hear some people have experienced success with inversion, and I would be very skeptical of anyone pushing drugs and surgery without trying alternatives first.

October 15, 2013 at 12:07 am
(66) T J says:

I have had lbp on & off since I was about 18 . I’m 56
Now. I have had all the different methods of lbp relief.
I have also had decompression surgery at L4-L5 to
relieve severe sciatica pain.the surgery was sucessful In immediate pain relief. but I also have to credit it to the surgeon and type of surgical method (endoscopic). But I still get lower back pain some due
To a lot of gravitational stress on my back. I have been a very mechanical minded person. , I didn’t even know there was such a machine and I thought of trying to devise such a thing till i found they already exist. My reasoning: (cont.)

October 15, 2013 at 12:25 am
(67) T J says:

Brett,
I have had lbp on & off since I was about 18 . I’m 56
Now. I have had all the different methods of lbp relief.
I have also had decompression surgery at L4-L5 to
relieve severe sciatica pain.the surgery was sucessful In immediate pain relief. but I also have to credit it to the surgeon and type of surgical method (endoscopic). But I still get lower back pain some due
To a lot of gravitational stress on my back. I have been a very mechanical minded person. , I didn’t even know there was such a machine and I thought of trying to devise such a thing till i found they already fexist. My reasoning is to undo something you do the opposite ie addition ; subtraction, multiplication ; division. So to reverse stress due to gravity like an hour glass turn it upside down and let gravity pull the spine and relax the discs. I have plans to get an inversion table just to prove my theory , but I also wanted to try after i had a few days of relaxing usage is to try a few crunches while inverted to strengthen the muscles around the spine .)

October 15, 2013 at 12:43 am
(68) T J says:

To undo something you do the opposite, ie. Addition : subtraction. Multiplication : division. So to undo gravitational stress turn it upside down like an hour glass. I have plans to get an inversion table to prove my theory. I have spent way more than $125 in my lifetime to relieve back pain. Another idea I have is after I get accustomed to relaxing my spine, is to do a few crunches while inverted to strengthen the muscles around the spine to increase the ability to support the back in an upright position. Will let you know how it turns out.

October 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm
(69) Ricky Tran says:

I’m searching for my partner since he needs something to in the home along side Chiropractor and exerciser, his left-foot goes numb after he walks some time. We were thinking it could assist too since itís hard to make the journey to the Chiropractor on the weekly bases.

October 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm
(70) Dr Carrino says:

The good news is that inversion therapy does create separation of the adjoining vertebrae and a possible secondary response of reactive increased hypertonicty of the intrinsic muscles if performed incorrectly; this is a problem. However the DRX 9000 Non-surgical spinal decompression system utilizes computer control of servo’s (like auto-pilot on an aircraft; it doesn’t crash) sensing ANY resistance from the patient and therefore avoiding the secondary response all together. This can be phrased as ‘traction” however the DRX is much safer than all the other forms of ‘traction” due to this technology and the results are beneficial as well.

Lastly, your sources are outdated, 1998 and 2001. Many current and more reliable studies exist. I strongly agree that posture correction and exercises are a very important part of one every day life to maintain pain-free health and accelerate recover from painful conditions or injuries but there is a traction system that is very effective, the DRX 9000. Many readers get confused about the type of system as well as think of it as inversion falsely as the patient receives the therapy while supine (face up), like laying in bed. Inversion has definite risks including stroke, the DRX does not!

November 4, 2013 at 1:03 am
(71) physicaltherapy says:

Dr. Carrino,
Thanks for your comment. Very insightful indeed.
As you know, low back pain can be a very difficult condition to treat, and many factors are involved. I’m sure you have had many successes with patients treated on your DRX (I assume you own one?). Some folks respond well to exercise and postural correction, others to DRX, and still others to surgery. The trick is finding out who benefits from each specific treatment.
Could you please, for my readers, cite some randomized controlled trials about the efficacy of the DRX?
Thanks again for your comment.
Brett

November 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm
(72) Jimi says:

I’ve tried P T and inversion table was part of thier program, i’ve since purchased one and am very happy with it. There is no one fix for everyone.

January 11, 2014 at 8:36 am
(73) Fred A. Constantine says:

this is sure.inversion table is good for reduce back pain ,released muscle ,fewer joint injuries and allows existing injuries to heal more quickly. Even the U.S. Army has been convinced of the benefits of inversion therapy and has invested in inversion tables to help reverse the damage done to recruits during rigorous training sessions.

January 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm
(74) physicaltherapy says:

Fred,
Yes, I have seen the advertisements from the Teeter inversion table website that states how happy the US Army is with their inversion tables. I typically do not trust these first person, commercialized quotes about the benefits of a specific product.

Thanks for your comment.
Brett

January 28, 2014 at 4:40 am
(75) Joseph Amofog says:

Thanks so much for sharing this information. I was going out to buy one tomorrow after seeing that commercial for the Teeter thingy. Now I am just going to start my lower back exercises rather than going out to spend my hard earned money. Good luck to all those who take heed to this information.

January 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm
(76) Tinker says:

I’ve tried physical therapy, chiropractic care, stretching exercises, and had a spinal block injection to help with terrible back pain. Most dissapointing was the physical therapy. The PT was extremely expensive and a complete waste of time and money! I was actually given a book called “How to Heal Your Own Back” by my physical therapist! Neither the therapy or the book helped me at all. My last resort before returning to a pain management specialist is the inversion table. I actually don’t mind spending the $200 on the table as much as I minded spending much more on the physical therapy and chiro “care” that I received.

February 3, 2014 at 10:23 pm
(77) Robin says:

Thanks for the info!

February 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm
(78) Sarah says:

I had a lumbar degenerative disc that gradually got worse and worse. I did 3 months of physical therapy, took Yoga classes and purchased an inversion table. I benefited from all of those, but eventually had to have spinal fusion surgery. My question was “Can you use an inversion table AFTER spinal fusion surgery?” I’m coming up to the end of the 6-month recovery period and would like to start using the table again.

February 26, 2014 at 10:33 pm
(79) physicaltherapy says:

Sarah,
Thanks for your comment.
The surgeons that I have worked with do not recommend using any form of spinal traction for 12 months following a lumbar fusion.
Your surgeon may have a different set of rules, and everyone is different, so it is a good idea to check in with him or her prior to starting any specific treatment for your back.
Good luck,
Brett

March 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm
(80) Rachel T says:

After the first 2 days alone of using my table. ..whoa…now it’s 7 years later and I don’t need a chiro or a physical therapist.

March 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm
(81) Sallie Planty says:

A year ago, I fell and fractured my hip. I laid there for more than five hours before being discovered and whisked to the hospital. One partial hip replacement procedure later, Sciatica and attendant peripheral neuropathy symptoms set in (during the first week of recovery). The symptoms only increased during the month-long traditional PT sessions.
I finally was released and began at-home PT, then it was back to my orthopedic surgeon who proposed a series of “nerve deadening” procedures, coupled with on-site PT sessions.
The PT session which involved mechanical stretching of the vertebral column was the only procedure that gave any type of relief, which was immediately cancelled by the subsequent attempts at deadening the Sciatic and Sacroiliac nerves.
There has to be a reason for this. I had to stop all treatment when I left the area. I’ve since shrunken two inches and am in constant pain, with muscle seizures and the typical peripheral neuropathic pain.
I’ve concluded that I would do well with PT that included mechanical stretching. Whatever studies have shown, each case is unique.
The greatest problem most back-pain sufferers face is the inability of doctors and therapist to personalize treatment – much like the many doctors who are lured by attractive pharmaceutical sales persons into peddling stop-gap measures that always come short of cures.
Honesty is required. Have you tried it? What were the results that you, personally, observed? Is treatment based on other people’s studies, solely, or have you actually tried the procedures you either promulgate or despise?

March 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm
(82) physicaltherapy says:

Sallie,
Thanks for you comment, and sorry to hear about your unfortunate accident. Hopefully you continue to find the treatment that works best for you. I think you make a valid point: each person is unique and requires personalized care and treatment.

I practice what is known as the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, and every patient of mine gets individualized care and treatment. There is not a “one size fits all” treatment for back pain or sciatica. Randomized, controlled studies show that the McKenzie Method of assessment is valid and reliable (see A. Long, 2004, Spine Journal “Does it Matter Which Exercise?”

I’ve never tired and sort of mechanical stretching device: I perform my back exercises regularly to prevent such problems. Even if I am on vacation or traveling for work, I need not worry about my back, since I can perform postural correction and lumbar stretching exercises anywhere, and without the aid of external devices. Even though this works well for me, it sounds like your specific condition is as unique as you are, and you may require something different.

Thanks again for your comment, and I hope you continue to make gains with your painful condition.
Brett

April 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm
(83) Joseph says:

My head is spinning. I have peripheral neuropathy and a herniated disc and wonder if the teeter is harmful or helpful and find that there are so many opposing and differing opinions and many from those that are eager to push their own agenda that I am left feeling I will be better off dealing with the pain.

I can deal with the neuropathy. Lyrica is covering that well except that it is a drug. The herniated disc is a different story, the pain is such that therapy is not beneficial so am therefore considering surgery. However surgery does not have a high success record.

Hate being in limbo!!

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