Inversion tables are often used by people who are struggling with back pain. The method works by having the person lie flat on the table’s surface, strapping him or her down and turning the equipment so that the individual is hanging upside down. In theory, the inverted position is meant to stretch the spine and correct painful nerve and disc compression. The position may offer temporary relief, but the spinal column will return to its previous position soon after the person is released from the apparatus. Many spine surgeons in Beverly Hills have voiced concerns about the dangers that are imposed by maintaining an unnatural position on inversion tables, including the following:
Staying on the table too long can cause pulled muscles and leave patients in more pain than when they started therapy, and individuals who are overweight or pregnant are at a much greater risk for injury. Additionally, stretching the spine and allowing the structures of the vertebral column to move may cause a person’s back pain to worsen rather than relieve it. Anyone who has an abdominal or inguinal hernia should steer clear of inversion tables because they may cause the weakened muscle to bulge out further, resulting in a larger herniated area.
Hanging upside down for a period of time causes the heart rate to slow and the blood pressure to rise, and patients with a history of hypertension are advised against using this form of therapy. The increase in pressure throughout the cardiovascular system can put anyone with heart disease at risk for complications.
Eye and Ear Problems
The intraocular pressure caused by inversion has been known to cause some patients eyes to bleed and can significantly worsen conditions such as retinal detachment and glaucoma. The elevated pressure levels in the ear can result in pain and problems with the tympanic membrane, or eardrum.
Patients who have osteoporosis, degenerative disc disease or other ailments that affect the integrity of the bones should not attempt inversion therapy. The pressure exerted on the spinal canal could result in dangerous fractures along the vertebral column.
Although inversion therapy works for some patients, you should always speak with your physician before trying an alternate treatment that could potentially worsen your current pain. If your pain persists, it might be time to see a spine surgeon about spinal fusion surgery or decompression surgery. Call The Spine Institute at (310) 828-7717 and request an in-person consultation with a board-certified spine physician who can help you down the path toward a pain free life.