Adapted from an article by Dr. Eric Kaplan
It all began in Ontario in 1987 with Canada’s former minister of health Dr. Allan Dyer. Already recognized as a pioneer in the development of the external cardiac defibrillator, Dr. Dyer designed and developed this new technology to be distinctly different from conventional traction tables. Although traction has been around for centuries, research into its effectiveness remains inconclusive. Dr. Dyer took the concept of traction and made critical engineering improvements to yield a treatment of unprecedented efficacy.
His theory was based upon the “pumping mechanics of disc hydration”. He thought that if he could develop a technology that could mimic the normal pumping action of a vertebral disc, it could restore hydration to discs and the negative pressure created within the disc could draw herniated and bulging discs back into their normal physiological position.
He called his invention Vax-D, (Vertebral Axial Decompression). While Vax-D did manage to overcome many of the limitations imposed by conventional traction, it still had a number of drawbacks. The rigid horizontal table made it difficult for some patients to use, and it was not designed to provide decompression for the neck.
Although Vax-D could treat the lumbar spine, patients were only able to lie on the table in the prone position. Today Vax-D technology has been reengineered to put the patient in the supine position (face down). The people who attack Vax-D would doubtless have attacked Henry Ford when he altered the Model T. Technology has advanced at a rapid pace, from our computers to our televisions. Old-schoolers never want to change; they fail to see that change is the only constant thing in life.
Numerous studies have been carried out on spinal decompression. One of the first and largest available studies on the efficacy of non-surgical disc decompression was the data compiled by Gose, Naguszewski and Naguszewski and published in Volume 20 of the journal Neurological Research. The data presented the out-comes of 778 patients from 22 medical centers. These patients had had pain for an average of 40 months. Thirty-one of them had previously undergone low back surgery. The treatment consisted of 10 to 20 treatment sessions. Six patients were excluded from the study because they improved before 10 treatments. 34 patients had extruded discs.
195 had multiple disc herniations.
382 had single disc herniations.
147 had degenerative discs without herniations.
19 had facet (joint) pain.
31 of these 778 patients had previous low back surgery.
The Results Were Extraordinary
1% reported increased pain.7% reported no change.92% reported improvement. Of these, 5% improved by 25- 50%; 17% improved by 50-75%; 70% improved by 75-100%. Before treatment, on a pain scale of 0–5, the average pain for all subjects was 4.1. After treatment it was 1.2—a difference of 71%.71% reported that their pain reduced to 0–1 on the 0–5 pain scale.
Extruded disc patients reported an average 56% reduction in pain and 53% reported that pain reduced to 0–Multiple herniated disc patients reported a 71% reduction in pain and 72% reported that pain reduced to 0–1.
Single herniated disc patients reported a 71% reduction in pain and 73% reported that pain reduced to 0–1. Degenerative disc disease patients reported a 70% reduction in pain and 72% reported that pain reduced to 0–1.
Facet syndrome patients reported a 72% reduction in pain and 68% reported that pain reduced to 0–1.
Of patients who had reported decreased spinal mobility before treatment, 77% reported improved spinal mobility.
Of patients who had reported limited activities before treatment, 78% reported improved activities.
On a scale of 0–3, the average level of satisfaction with treat- ment was 2.4, in other words, “very satisfied” to “completely satisfied” with their treatment.
This prestigious study paved the way for the use of spinal decompression.
Although research was and has been positive, many insurance companies concluded that these statistics were misleading and inconclusive. Study after study has showed the efficacy of spinal decompression but whenever these positive studies appeared, there was always a naysayer on hand to find fault.
At our Roseville Spinal Decompression Clinic we see these kind of results on a daily basis. Pre and post MRIs which some of our patients have chosen to do confirm the subjective findings – disc bulges and herniations are reduced without surgery!