Harvard Medical School & Spinal Decompression

It is no secret that Harvard Medical School is among the top institutions in the United States for teaching the physicians of tomorrow and continuing research to solidify our understanding of health further. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, is a graduate of Duke Medical School and was the head of the neurosurgery department at Harvard Medical School. He is known as one of the pioneers of non-surgical treatment options for spine pain.

As of this writing, Dr. Shealy is the most published author on conservative spine care. Vera Borgmeyer, RN, MA., has published various research articles independently of Dr. Shealy. However, their research article, Decompression, Reduction, and Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine: An Effective Treatment for Lumbalgia, first published in the American Journal of Pain Management, is a hallmark study showing the effectiveness of this type of conservative care.

This study, in particular, was designed to record the clinical changes in disc herniations as documented in an MRI study. The technology used in this study was the Decompression Reduction and Stabilization System (DRS). The DRS system would later become known as the DRX-9000 after several improvements in the technology within the components of this spinal decompression table.

20 patients in this study had a diagnosed radiculopathy (colloquially known as sciatica) from an EMG. These patients underwent a series of twenty spinal decompression treatments over four to five weeks. Fourteen of the twenty patients had a disc herniation, while six patients had additional diagnoses such as foraminal stenosis, facet arthropathy, and lateral spinal stenosis.

At the conclusion of this study, 17 out of 20 patients had significant pain relief and complete relief of weakness when present and immobility. In those patients with a disc herniation, 10 out of 14 had a 90% improvement in pain and disability, two had roughly 50% relief, and one had only 20% relief. Interestingly enough, one year after this study was conducted, 17 patients were re-interviewed and only one had a recurrence of symptoms.

Non-surgical spinal decompression should be considered as a promising alternative to surgery or long term disability for patients suffering from disc related issues.

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