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What is Flexion-Distraction Therapy?

Woman laying on chiropractic table

Could Flexion-Distraction Therapy Help My Pain?

Most of us experience pain in our muscles and joints occasionally. If we're lucky, the uncomfortable symptoms subside after just a few days. For some people, pain becomes a chronic condition that lasts months or years.

Although pain medication can be helpful, it often causes nausea, dizziness and other unpleasant side effects that can make it difficult to drive or keep up with your usual workload. Flexion-distraction therapy, a natural, non-surgical technique offered by your chiropractor, provides an effective, alternative pain relief option.

What Is Flexion-Distraction Therapy?

Flexion-distraction therapy is performed on a segmented table that moves as your chiropractor slowly manipulates your spine. The manipulations, combined with the movements of the table, stretch and decompress your spine, relieving your back, leg, neck, or arm pain.

As your chiropractor performs the gentle manipulations, a section of the treatment table drops or moves, changing the positioning of your body. When your body drops slightly, gravity enhances the effects of treatment and helps realign your spine.

What Are the Benefits of the Treatment?

Flexion-distraction therapy can:

  • Reduce pressure on your spinal nerves and discs
  • Decrease bulging of herniated discs
  • Improve range of motion and mobility
  • Help you manage chronic back pain
  • Relieve stiffness
  • Decrease neck pain and headaches
  • Eliminate or delay the need for surgery in some cases
  • Promote good disc health
  • Relieve pain and numbness in the back, buttocks, arms, and legs
  • Improve posture

In a study published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers examined the effects of flexion-distraction manipulation on patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. The condition occurs when the spinal canal narrows and presses against the nerves that serve the lower back and legs, causing pain, weakness, numbness, and cramping.

Study participants who received flexion-distraction manipulation as part of their therapy experienced a greater reduction of their painful symptoms than those patients whose treatment did not include the technique.

Will Flexion-Distraction Help Me?

In addition to improving spinal stenosis symptoms, flexion-distraction can also be used to treat many other types of back pain. It may reduce pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis and improve spinal movement in patients who have scoliosis.

Flexion-distraction therapy can be helpful if you have sacroiliac syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, sprains, and strains. It's also very effective in treating muscle spasms or low back pain unrelated to a specific condition.

The technique is gentle enough to use after spinal surgery and can be an important part of your recovery treatment plan. If you have osteoporosis or another condition that affects your bones, some treatments may be too risky. Luckily, flexion-distraction is gentle enough that it can be a safe therapy option for people who have brittle bones or are frail.

Flexion-distraction therapy may even be helpful in treating knee pain. In a study published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, patients who had either acute or chronic knee pain received flexion-distraction therapy for two to three weeks. At the end of the treatment period, the mean pain scale score dropped from 7.7 to 1.8. Patients who suffered from chronic knee pain maintained their results by receiving the therapy once every month.

Are you tired of living in pain? Flexion-distraction therapy may offer the ideal way to relieve your symptoms, whether you've been experiencing pain for a few days or weeks, or you have a chronic condition. Call us to schedule your appointment.

Sources:

NCBI: European Spine Journal: The Global Spine Care Initiative, 9/27/18

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29480409

NCBI: Journal of Physical Therapy Science: Effects of Flexion-Distraction Manipulation Therapy on Pain and Disability in Patients with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, 6/30/15

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500015/

Chiropractic Economics: The Extensive Benefits of a Chiropractic Flexion Table, 9/15/16

https://www.chiroeco.com/chiropractic-flexion-distraction-tables/

NCBI The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association: Innovative Application of Cox Flexion Distraction Decompression to the Knee: A Retrospective Case Series

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596966/

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Testimonials

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I have been to 7 different chiropractors in the last 15 years.
    Then a friend told me about Dr. Sheffield in Austin. Even though I live 50 miles away from Westlake, I attended one of her "Lunch & Learn" luncheons and heard her speak. I heard things I had never heard before about the body as well as similar information that I knew about how chiropractic works. I was so glad I came to the luncheon that day.
    Dr. Sheffield has the most comprehensive approach I have ever been exposed to in chiropractic care. She has been getting to the root of my chronic condition and treating it and it's working. She has taken me to an entirely new level of healing than ever before. She is also very "aware" of what the body needs.
    Additionally, I feel so cared for by Dr. Sheffield. This extends to her Assistant, Sandra, also. They are both very caring people, and you can feel how much they care about you.
    I cannot recommend her enough!
    I feel like I am finally going to be well!"
    Cindy C
  • "Before visiting Dr. Katerina Sheffield, I had visited multiple chiropractors and a back specialist for almost 2 years on a weekly basis to address my severe lower back pain. I couldn’t see the end in sight. I had been thinking I’d have to get use to living with my lower back pain at just age 25. After visiting my massage therapist, Stacia Guerrero, she advised that I see Dr. Sheffield because my issues were structural, and not just muscular. Working with Dr. Sheffield, I found that her upper cervical work got right to the cause of my problem. I saw faster results in just a few months than in the past 2 years. I found her commitment to my healing process reassuring and I was surprised how quickly I noticed results. After just a few months, I feel so blessed that I found her. Thank you so much and I highly recommend Dr. Sheffield to anyone seeking chiropractic work."
    John E
  • "When I first came to the office, I was experiencing neck and spine pain that was preventing me from sleeping well. The pain was consistently at an 8 out of 10! I have seen other chiropractors in the past but with only minimal results.
    After a few treatments with Dr. Sheffield I started seeing differences in my sleep and mobility as well as decrease in the pain I had lived with for over 20 years! I was surprised and pleased that 11 consecutive weeks helped change my habits! Overall, my experience has been great and I am very grateful for Dr. Sheffield’s help."
    Bridge B
  • "I have found the last piece of the puzzle in the treatment of mid thoracic, neck pain and headaches. I’ve been on a 30 year journey with pain brought in partly because of poor posture and car accidents where I was rear ended at 55 to 60 miles per hour. ... Years later as back and neck pain set in I sought physical therapy believing this would “take care of it” and since I’m a PT myself, I had high hopes that it would. ...Becoming certified in Pilates instruction, I continued to improve some but the neck pain never stopped and the headaches got worse over time. ... At a friend’s suggestion I saw Dr. Sheffield. X-rays revealed some significant disc degeneration and improper weight bearing through the neck. Physical exam revealed mal-alignment of my atlas and axis. Treatment of these areas has finally, for the firs time in years, given me weeks now of NO headaches! I wish I’d have gotten here sooner!"
    Pam T
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield because my neck and shoulder were hurting. It was a 9 1/2 out of 10. I was unable to work without hurting. In the past I have tried massage and acupuncture with no long lasting results. After treatments with Dr. Sheffield, I started seeing differences in lifting heavy boxes and setting up displays, which are integral parts of my job. Dr. Sheffield listens to you and advises you on things you can do at home to stay healthy. She is kind, sweet and always a pleasure to see. Her staff is friendly and helpful. She had made a difference in my life and I would recommend her to anyone needing help with pain. I feel so much better and found the experience at Dr. Sheffield's office very rewarding."
    Terry M.
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield after being encouraged time and time again by a friend of mine. For over a decade I had struggled with neck pain and headaches so intense I would vomit form the pain. I’ve tried everything- steroid shots, volume shots, all kinds of drugs- and nothing touched the pain. I own a construction company so you can imagine how difficult it was to maintain my normal work load while dealing with these episodes. I stay very busy with intense activities like building homes and competing in 3 day nonstop ultra marathons which tend to aggravate my symptoms. Dr. Sheffield took the time to teach me proper ergonomics to maintain my adjustments. Being consistent and following her treatment plan over the last 2 months has allowed my headaches and neck pain to become manageable for the first time ever. It’s working and that makes it worth the 2 hour drive each way."
    David L
  • "I first came to Dr. Sheffield after an open-minded doctor who chooses to treat, rather than just medicate, recommended her to me. Because it is as much as it is a 175-mile round trip from my house, I had intended to be open minded enough to try it.

    Because of a lifetime of injuries from a gun shot wound to the mouth as a child, to oil field and construction injuries, plus 40+ years as a stone mason etc pain was a way of life, but at the age of 51 heart problems and strokes limited my activities. Having tried physical therapy, acupuncture and cupping, work hardening programs and years of chiropractic treatment with the then president of the American Chiropractic Association, with each having limited or temporary relief.

    So, after being treated for only a few sessions I experienced noticeable and longer periods of relief. With 66 years just a few months away, and other health problem, I am not calling this a miracle, but your help has surely been a blessing."
    Steve J
  • "I began seeing Dr. Shefield in April. When I arrived at her office, I could barely walk. I had been suffering with extreme lower back pain for quite some time but seemed to somehow "live" with it. In the month of March, while vacationing, I actually collapsed in so much pain. Dr. Shefield sent me to have x-rays done and my L4,5,6 discs were out and I also had an Atlas mis-alignment. I had no idea how much trauma had been done to my back over a course a several years letting this problem go.
    Dr. Shefield has truly kept me from having to have back surgery. I am no longer suffering with any back pain, neck pain, nor headaches. I can exercise again and wear my heels. She is an amazing Doctor! Until you suffer back pain you have no idea just HOW painful it can be. I am forever grateful for her"
    Laura B
  • "Dr. Sheffield has been great. My first visit was based on a recommendation from a friend when I had severely tweaked my lower back , and after just a couple of appointments, I saw a vastly reduced level of pain. At this point, I leave the office feeling better than when I arrived and look forward to my adjustments. I would highly recommend Westlake Chiropractic to anyone looking for a non-invasive approach to managing their spinal issues"
    Matt B
  • "I am 57 and my back NOW feels like it did when I was 35. I have been seeing Dr. Sheffield for about 4 months now, and now I am wondering why I went to all the other chiropractors…. Dr. Sheffield specializes in ATLAS (the vertebrae closest to the skull) therapy which little did I know, when correctly leveled, can have a huge impact on the rest of your bost – like MY LOWER BACK! It used to take me a full 30 seconds to get out of my chair in my office – stretch, groan a bit, stretch some more - and now I POP OUT of my chair like a teenager. Flying on planes is NOTHING now… as it used to be my worst nightmare. Check it out guys… my wife and my 22-year-old daughter is now going to see her…."
    Johnny S
  • "A fantastic place with a warm, beautiful and friendly atmosphere!
    Dr. Katerina has worked wonders with my neck and shoulder issues. After many months of pain and surgeries, I gave Westlake Chiropractic a try. I'm certainly happy that I did!
    Thanks to Katerina, I have regained a great deal of range of motion in my spine and shoulders. I'm now able to workout and do the things that I love in life!"
    Scott M
  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Sheffield for two years. I have had surgery for scoliosis so my needs as a patient are unique. Dr. Sheffields gentle technique and pinpoint accuracy with adjustments is what gave me relief and results after years of discomfort. Headaches went away, lower back pain left and my quality of life improved. I value that she also offers holistic care and can speak to other ailments and conditions and make recommendations for supplements and other treatments that would aid healing. She is an outstanding provider!"
    Christiana W.
  • "MD recommended

    I feel very fortunate to have found Dr. Katerina Sheffield! She did a careful exam on me, including specific evaluations of spine positions and my leg lengths. The actual adjustments were very gentle but powerfully effective. I had immediate relief from low back pain even though I only needed a slight neck adjustment. Best of all, my posture is erect with no effort at all. This is effective and gentle chiropractic as I have never experienced before!"
    Moira D., MD
  • "Relief for the first time

    I’ve had chronic back pain for much of my life. Over the years I’ve seen several different chiropractors with only a little lasting improvement, and no real idea what the problem was. Dr. Sheffield was the first chiropractor to diagnose that I have a rare congenital defect causing my back pain, and she has tailored a treatment plan that is, for the first time, giving me real relief. She is a conscientious and caring doctor."
    Don
  • "Dr. Sheffield has changed my life and my Spinal health is only getting stronger and better as I keep going to her. Anytime I feel something pulling or not right, I tell her the exact spot and the symptom and she corrects it! I am constantly amazed at her interaction with her patients, her ability to make you feel you are being healed and calm at the same time. She is changing lives, let her change yours! Haylee G. Dr. Sheffield is not only a remarkable practitioner, but a wonderful person. As patients of hers, my son and I can unequivocally say she is the best chiropractor in Austin."
    Kara B. - Austin, TX