Unloader Training

The unloader is a special device we use with patients that have cervical or low back pain resulting from stenosis, herniated discs and pinched nerves. It is great for use in patients that have bad cartilage in weight bearing joints of the spine or legs, especially where weight bearing activities hurt.

Most of us are familiar with the benefits of aquatic exercises where the buoyancy gives patients the chance to exercise more with less pain. Yet not all of us are able to get to a pool regularly or some do not like to get in the water. This type of unloading exercises is especially helpful for articular cartilage repair where the compression decompression repeatedly helps increase cartilage and tissue hydration and helps wash out the pain metabolites.

Think of a sponge as your cartilage in the spine or disc or in a weight bearing joint. If there is dirty water ie pain chemicals in it what would you do? Since the cartilage gets hydration by diffusion from the surrounding tissues just like a sponge, you would put in water and squeeze and release many times and allow the dirty water to go out and clean water to come in. The low load compression decompression allows the cartilage to get in nutrients and help repair. It is important to not continue unloader exs when it is causing pain to increase and exercise at a correct partial weight bearing level so as to help the cartilage to improve.

Such unloader training can be used with a treadmill or with the neck harness and using a Upper body ergometer.

Indications for unloader training are:

  • when weight bearing hurts.
  • when there is a limp
  • when there is more pain at the end of the day.
  • when weight bearing causes swelling
  • when weight bearing range of motion is much less than non weight bearing ROM
  • when motion segments have abnormal movements and firing patterns
  • when the ligaments, tendons and muscles are weak or injured.

Your therapist will assist you in this and ensure that your posture and gait are correct as well as the correct amount of weight to be taken off when walking or using the UBE.

Most people doing this are surprised that they are able to walk more and with much less pain and then can continue this at a gym or pool as part of their ongoing Home Exercises program.

Call us today to find out more about this new and amazing treatment technique.