Nonsurgical spinal decompression is a method of traction using a specialized table with the goal of decompressing the vertebral discs in the neck or low back.

The discs are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine and normally should have good water content. They have a tougher outer layer called the annulus and gel-like inner core called the nucleus. The outer layer can be thought of as a radial tire, the inner part as a jelly-filled donut.

Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine. This traction changes the force and position of the spine with the goal of taking pressure off the discs by creating a negative pressure. As a result, bulging or herniated discs may retract, taking pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. This in turn, over several visits, helps promote movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the discs so they can heal.

Doctors have used nonsurgical spinal decompression in an attempt to treat:

Surgical decompression is a completely different procedure that involves a surgeon removing a piece of bone and/or disc material from pressing on a nerve. Surgical decompression has its own risks and percentage of success rates like most surgeries.