The Long-Term Effectiveness of Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression

Patients often ask me, “Dr. Lea, what are the long-term effects of this treatment?” My answer depends on how many complicating factors they have or if they have any co-morbidities that may inhibit the healing process.

Robert H. Odell, MD, Ph.D., and D. Boudreau, DO, conducted a study that was published in Anesthesiology News in March 2003. They wanted to study the long-term effects of non-surgical spinal decompression on reducing chronic back pain. The study included 23 patients diagnosed with herniated discs and degenerated discs. The treatment consisted of spinal decompression from the VAX-D, an early predecessor of the DRX-9000. The FDA approved this device in 1989 for the treatment of herniated and degenerative disc disease and radicular (radiating) pain.

The four-year follow-up study revealed that of the 23 patients who responded, 52% had a pain level of 0/10. Amazingly, 91% of these patients could resume their normal activities of daily living.

Prior to this study, patients reported an average pain level of 7.41 out of 10. This decreased to 3.41 immediately after treatment. Researchers believe that the pain reduction is due to the negative pressure created during decompression, which allows nutrients, oxygen, and water to be right back into the disc.

Drs. Odell and Boudreau claim that VAX-D treatments actually reduce the cost burden of back pain on the economy. These assumptions were based on each treatment costing $250, which consisted of 27 treatments. Comparatively speaking, traditional interventional medicine for low back pain is significantly higher.

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