Individuals with chronic back pain, problems in the spine, and compromised circulation often choose inversion therapy for relief.  Subsequent sections offer a detailed view of inversion tables and therapy to understand outcomes for sciatica and kidney stones in addition to the above conditions. While there is adequate documented evidence to indicate that the tables offer relief, it is essential to learn of the possible inversion table negative side effects. This is especially true in the case of individuals with existing illnesses, injuries, or specific conditions.

Overview of inversion therapy

The table appears similar to a lounge chair and the therapy involves the patient lying on the table in such a manner so as to be leaning back at a particular angle.  Depending on the condition, the patient may also be lying upside down on the table.  Known as spinal traction, the process is intended to reduce the pressure exerted on the nerves in the spine as a result of gravity. This pressure also extends to the disks in the spine. By reducing the pressure, the space between the discs is increased, and this offers considerable relief. Due to the pressure of gravity, the discs are all packed tightly together causing acute discomfort, and by relieving the pressure, the pain and discomfort are alleviated.

Conditions that are typically treated with the tables

Inversion therapy is typically used to offer relief from back pain, and to reduce the pain and discomfort from compressed discs in the spine. The tables are also used to reduce pain in tensed-up muscles and to bring down muscle spasms. The therapy is also useful in offering relief from sciatica pain; this refers to the pain in the nerve that runs from the lower back to the legs. As outlined above, inversion tables are also used in helping manage the pain from kidney stones. For individuals without any major problem or issue, the table may be used for gently stretching muscles and joints, which helps to offer complete relaxation.

Documented evidence of the impact of the tables in specific conditions

By virtue of being a different procedure, there could be apprehensions about the efficacy and outcomes from the tables. This section lists documented evidence that indicates positive outcomes from the tables. The therapy is known to offer short-term relief for patients with back pain, While the relief is not long-term in nature, it is significant in terms of pain relief on a short-term basis. This is especially more effective in treating pain in the lower back, and pain from conditions dues to compressed discs.

The therapy is known to be effective in treating pain in the sciatica nerve, and studies point out that the therapy when combined with physical therapy offers considerable relief. Depending on the condition it is also known to help dispense with the need for surgery.

Inversion therapy is also known to help patients with kidney stone conditions. When combined with diuresis, it is known to help in clearing the stones. Typically, the patient is administered shockwave therapy to break the stones, and following this, the patient receives a sufficient amount of fluids to induce urination. The broken kidney stones then get flushed in the urine, while the table helps to manage the pain and discomfort associated with kidney stones.

Proper methods of using the table to avoid possible inversion table negative side effects

The individual is ideally strapped onto the table securely. The patient is then maneuvered to a position where the head is lower than the position of the heart.  As this requires the right posturing and balance to prevent untoward incidents, it is best carried out in the presence and under the guidance of a physiotherapist, or in a hospital setting. Patients are advised to avoid installation of the equipment at home, with the exception of younger patients without any diagnosis of cardiovascular conditions. Regardless of where the table is used, it is important to perform the therapy with an individual to assist and monitor. This is also especially important for patients who find it difficult and unable to rise from a seated or resting position. It is also necessary to not overdo the process and ensure that the tilt angle is within the desired or recommended angles.

Individuals who are older are advised to keep the tilt angle to around degrees, while younger and healthier adults can tilt up to 30 degrees, depending on the condition. The patient is also advised to remain in the position for two minutes daily, initially to understand the effects and to determine if there are adverse outcomes. The tilting is to be performed slowly, and the rising back to the original position is also to be performed slowly. Any sudden jerk or fast movement may cause spasms in the muscles or pain in the back. Specialists also advise combination therapy involving stretches, as this helps in increasing flexibility – however, patients are to consult the treating doctor to understand if it is safe and advisable.

Commonly reported Inversion table negative side effects

As outlined earlier, though the therapy is relatively safe in nature, there is always the risk of undesirable effects. For instance, the patient’s heartbeat is likely to reduce, and the blood pressure levels of the patient are also likely to spike. This is also likely to be felt or experienced in the eyes as the pressure in the eyes may increase. Here is a compilation of some of the commonly reported undesirable effects of the therapy. It is necessary to bear in mind that this is not a complete or exhaustive list of possible unwanted effects.  The nature of the effects, the intensity, and the duration are all likely to differ from person to person. This depends on the age of the patient, other medications in use, and the condition being treated. In certain instances, the patients may not experience any kind of unwanted effects whatsoever.

#1 Pressure on the eyes and ear

As a result of the posture, there is a possibility of individuals experiencing pressure on the eyes and the ears. Consequently, it is necessary for patients with diagnosed glaucoma or other retina-related illnesses to avoid the therapy. Exposing the eyes to additional pressure may aggravate the condition further, and in certain rare instances, may trigger bleeding. The same applies to patients with ear or hearing-related issues. As a result of the increased pressure on the ears, it is necessary to avoid the therapy or seek medical advice regarding the process.

#2 Impact on blood pressure levels

As a result of the posture, wherein the patient is upside down for a few minutes, the heartbeat rate may reduce significantly, and this may also result in an increase in blood pressure levels. As a result of these actions, the movement of blood through the body, that is controlled by the heart may end up with greater force. Patients with existing conditions such as hypertension may end up with aggravated conditions and this could pose serious health hazards. Considering that hypertension is known to be a silent killer, it is imperative to keep blood pressure under check to prevent long-term organ damage.

#3 Exacerbation of pain

While inversion therapy is intended to offer relief from pain, there are instances, when the therapy could result in aggravation of the condition. Instances of an increase in back pain and discomfort, apart from an increase in blood pressure levels have been reported. While there are no known reasons for this aggravation, there are also instances when aggravation is attributed to incorrect posture, extended therapies, extreme angles, etc.

#4 Increased pressure on lungs

There is the possibility of increased pressure on the lungs as a result of the upside posture. This is especially true when the therapy is performed for a longer duration. An additional burden is placed on the lungs as a result of the position, wherein the weight of internal organs and gravity work on the lungs. This makes it necessary for individuals with breathing difficulties to avoid the therapy or to perform it only when continuously monitored and assisted by a trained specialist.

#5 Impact on blood vessels

The anatomy of the body is designed in a manner to facilitate the movement of blood, when in the upright position. However, if the position is upside down, there is a possibility of blood accumulating in the brain, and this could result in a rupture of blood vessels due to excess pressure. Consequently, this could result in internal bleeding in the brain, and this could be serious in nature. It is therefore important to use the therapy only for the recommended period of time to avoid possible inversion table negative side effects.

#6 Possible effect on muscles

There is the additional possibility of the individual experiencing muscle pulls. Muscle Pulls are typically experienced due to overdoing the therapy. Most individuals experience some kind of relief from pain and discomfort. However, in an effort to increase the effects or outcomes, individuals are known to perform the therapy for extended periods of time and this stretching of the muscles for longer periods can have a negative or undesirable effect.

Categories of individuals unsuitable for the therapy

As mentioned above; due to the nature of the side effects and the possible unwanted outcomes among certain categories of individuals, it is considered unsuitable for certain people. For instance, patients with high blood pressure levels, any kind of circulatory system disorder, or pressure in the eyes are advised to stay off the tables. Similarly, patients with existing conditions of imbalance are also to avoid the tables as this could aggravate the condition due to increased pressure on the ears.

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