Inversion Therapy Pros and Cons – Does It Work?

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When you suffer from chronic back pain, you may be ready to try any remedy that will provide fast and noticeable relief from your discomfort. While you could take over-the-counter medications or undergo chiropractic laser surgery, you might want to consider natural and relatively safe pain relief options first. Inversion therapy is one of the latest back discomfort remedies showing promise for being an effective if not a temporary alternative to taking medications or going through surgery. Decide if inversion therapy is right for you by learning what it entails and what risks are commonly associated with it.

What Is Inversion Therapy?

a man in an inversion table

As its name implies, inversion therapy involves inverting your body to find relief from back pain. In its simplest definition, it requires that you briefly hang upside down from your feet or ankles until your back realigns itself and your discomfort stops. You do not have to take any medication before or after you invert yourself. It also can be done at home and as often as needed for back pain.

Of course, you may be unable to find a place from which to invert yourself in your home. It might be impractical and unsafe to hang upside down from the porch rail or stairwell banister, for example. As such, most people who want to use inversion therapy as a chronic back pain treatment invest in either an inversion therapy table or gravity boots.

The degree at which you invert your body also can determine the quality and effectiveness of this therapeutic measure. If you hang completely upside down, for example, you might be able to pop your back and realign your discs. However, you also could put a lot of strain on your ankles and feet as they support your body weight while you are inverted.

To spare themselves extra pain, many people invert themselves so that their heads are angled rather than pointing directly at the floor. This lesser angle eases your back pain and saves your ankle and feet from the strain of holding onto your body’s weight while you are inverted.

The Pros and Cons of Inversion Therapy

two people doing stretching exercises

Inversion therapy comes with an array of pros and cons about which you should be aware.

The Advantages of Inversion Therapy

Some of the more notable advantages of inversion therapy include:

  • Non-medicinal approach to back pain relief.
  • Relatively safe for most people.
  • Can be done in the privacy of your own home.
  • Does not require a doctor to administer or supervise.

At the same time, inversion therapy does have some disadvantages that could make it a less than ideal choice.

The Disadvantages of Inversion Therapy

  • Requires you buy an inversion table or chair or gravity boots.
  • Can cause severe acid reflux.
  • Can put pressure on your sinuses and eyes.
  • Cannot be done if you are pregnant or just had a baby.
  • Can cause dizziness or vertigo.
  • Can raise your blood pressure and heart rate.

Inversion therapy causes blood to flow to your head, neck, and upper abdomen. This increased blood flow can be dangerous for people who suffer from medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, or glaucoma.

It also can decrease blood flow from an unborn baby, which is why this therapy is not recommended for pregnant women. If you suffer from any of these conditions or if you are expecting a baby, you should consider other back pain relief options.

Finally, the results from inversion therapy are temporary. Your back pain may come back as your discs go back to their normal positions.

Does Inversion Therapy Work?

a man using gravity boots

Doctors and chiropractors agree that inversion therapy can work if it is carried out properly. People who attempt to use this option for back pain relief often make the mistake of inverting themselves to an extreme angle or leaving themselves inverted for too long. They end up suffering additional and unneeded pain and distress in their legs, knees, hips, and back as a result.

Still, when done properly, this therapy can actually be an effective way to get quick relief from minor to moderate back pain. It allows gravity to pull on and realign your spinal column and create extra space between your discs. That extra space could give you near instant relief from misalignment, pinched nerves, and other damages that play into your overall back discomfort.

It also gives you relief without you having to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen or making an appointment with your doctor. You can set up the inversion table or chair in your home and undergo this therapy as often as needed for back pain. You avoid the embarrassment and cost of going through outpatient care at a chiropractic clinic or surgery at a hospital.

Another key factor in whether or not inversion therapy works centers on how at ease you are with inverting yourself without having someone help you. People knowledgeable with this technique recommend that you have someone close by the first couple of times you use your inversion table or chair or gravity boots in case you panic, suffer a medical emergency, or simply get stuck and cannot get back into an upright position.

Putting It All Together

In fact, even after you grow comfortable using your inversion therapy equipment at home, you still may find it wise to ask someone to monitor you. Doctors do not recommend that patients use inversion therapy alone in case of an emergency.

Chronic back pain can affect both your physical and emotional well-being and make it difficult to carry out your normal routine. When you want to find an effective way to relieve this discomfort, you may prefer a remedy that does not involve going through surgery or taking medications. Inversion therapy utilizes gravity to realign and increase the disc spaces in your back. Used properly, it can be a legitimate yet temporary way to find relief from minor to moderate chronic back pain.

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