Can Inversion Tables Alleviate Back Pain?

An inversion table is a padded, foldable chair-like device that claims to alleviate low back pain. If you have not seen or used an inversion table before, they work a little something like this: the person using the device straps him or herself onto the table and allows the table to slowly flip him or her over. This is the “inversion” point of the process that is supposed to relieve pressure from your bones, joints and vertebral discs.

Inversion therapy does carry some risks though, primarily because it requires hanging upside down to achieve pain-relieving results. Therefore, individuals who have high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma are encouraged to proceed devices like these with caution because they can cause an unsafe rise in pressure.

The leaders in Utah pain management at Southwest Spine and Pain Center often recommend conservative treatments to coincide with the interventional treatments performed at the practice. However, there are some therapies, which may have become sensationalized, that the team would not suggest. Inversion tables are a touchy topic, and the physicians at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are sharing their benefits and risks with readers.

Benefits of Inversion Tables / Inversion Therapy

  • Some research has indicated inversion therapy can widen the spaces between vertebrae and decompress discs, nerves and soft tissue.

Risks of Inversion Tables / Inversion Therapy

  • The gravitational pull downward can increase your blood pressure and the pressure within your eyeballs. Those with high blood pressure, glaucoma or heart disease should not try this device.
  • Studies found inversion therapy does not provide long-term back pain relief.
  • Studies on the efficacy of mechanical traction for low-back pain were of poor quality (i.e. study published in the 2001 issue of Physical Therapy Journal).

Unfortunately, the research the is available indicates inversion therapy is not really a reasonable plan for low back pain. If you are suffering from back pain, it’s best to talk to your Utah pain management specialist at Southwest Spine and Pain Center. Our physicians may recommend steroid injections, nerve blocks or a minimally invasive procedure to relieve pain.

If chronic pain is impacting your life, don't wait to schedule an appointment at Southwest Spine and Pain Center. With four locations in Utah and growing, the pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are dedicated to helping those who suffer from chronic pain live the life they want to! To schedule an appointment, visit our locations tab!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

©Southwest Spine and Pain Center, 2015

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