Yesterday, a patient came to my office and told me her medical doctor sent her to me to see if I did spinal decompression. For those of you who don’t know, non-surgical spinal decompression uses a specialized type of chiropractic table that provides computer assisted traction in order to separate the spinal bones and promote disc and ligament healing. Devices are known as the DRX-9000, VAXD, Lordex, DRS and others. The problem is, there are too many problems.
- Spinal decompression is a good procedure but has not been shown to be any better than techniques like Flexion-Distraction.
- Providers of spinal decompression almost always claim superiority of their technique over others.
- Spinal decompression devices are much, much, much more expensive than traditional flexion-distraction devices.
- In order to pay for their expensive, computerized tables, many spinal decompression doctors resort to false or misleading advertising, pre-paid treatment plans and other unethical practices.
- Decompression chiropractors frequently prescribe a 20 visit minimum treatment protocol (usually at about $200 per visit!!) for which there is no clinical rationale. Many of these patients would get better faster with other treatment methods.
I don’t have a problem with the DRX-9000 or other SD tables in and of themselves. The theory is pretty good and mirrors the excellent results we obtain with flexion-distraction for disc herniations and bulges. I have a major issue with the false and misleading practices, the high-pressure sales tactics, the false claims of superiority and the pre-paid treatment plans. I also don’t feel like paying an extra $60k to hook my table up to a computer.
I sent the MD who inquired about the technique a nice letter along with a copy of some of the articles naming lawsuits concerning the spinal decompression practices and some of the major insurance company positions on decompression (is it considered experimental and no better than currently available procedures). It would be nice to see this become a legitimate piece of equipment as a tool for chiropractors to use but as of now, there is too much controversy and too many unethical practices associated with it.
Dr. Brett Kinsler is a chiropractor in Rochester, NY. He gets excellent results with patients who have disc injuries in his Rochester chiropractic office and does not need to resort to hype and lies. His website is http://www.RochesterChiro.com