Do Inversion Tables Help With Neck Pain?

Inversion therapy, a subset of spinal decompression therapy, is becoming popular. However, if you suffer from neck pain, you should know a few things before spending your hard-earned money on an inversion table. This therapy isn't for everyone.

Inversion therapy may help with your neck pain. (Image: Milan Markovic/iStock/Getty Images)

Inversion And Neck Pain

Inversion therapy is a relatively new treatment for spinal problems. According to the Mayo Clinic website, the theory behind inversion is that by hanging upside down, you take the pressure of gravity off your spine, increase the space between your vertebrae, taking pressure off nerves and relieving pain. However, the clinic reports there is inconclusive evidence that inversion therapy is effective in providing long-term spinal pain relief.

Expert Insight

Inversion therapy works via spinal decompression, according to chiropractor Luke Martin, D.C., of Fort Collins, Colorado. Martin reports that when a traction is applied and the spine lengthened, blood and nutrients move into the spinal disks, keeping them healthy. This prevents degenerative disc disease and helps prevent burst disks. However, Martin does not recommend inversion for neck problems, or any back problems for that matter, because your hips and legs rather than your spine absorb much of the downward force.

Warnings

Inversion therapy isn't for everyone.Hanging upside can be risky; it slows your heartbeat while increasing your blood pressure. Therefore, MayoClinic.com recommends that those with heart problems, circulation issues or glaucoma avoid inversion therapy. If you do decide to buy an inversion table, make sure the model you select is sturdy, stable and not likely to tip during use. As with all fitness equipment, read and follow manufacturer safety instructions.

Alternatives

If you have health problems that don't allow you to use inversion tables, or have decided this treatment isn't for you, you don't have to forgo the benefits of spinal decompression therapy. Some chiropractors offer decompression therapy via traction applied by specialized machines. This method may be safer than home inversion, because you engage in it under the watchful eyes of a trained professional. However, always discuss risks with your health care provider before starting any new treatment.

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