“Eighty-six percent of ruptured intervertebral disc (RID) patients achieved ‘good’ (50-89% improvement) to ‘excellent’ (90-100% improvement) results with decompression. Sciatica and back pain were relieved.” “Of the facet arthrosis patients, 75% obtained ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ results with decompression.”
C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, and Vera Borgmeyer, RN, MA. Decompression, Reduction, and Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine: A Cost-Effective Treatment for Lumbosacral Pain. American Journal of Pain Management Vol. 7 No. 2 April 1997
“Serial MRI of 20 patients treated with the decompression table shows in our study up to 90% reduction of subligamentous nucleus herniation in 10 of 14. Some rehydration occurs detected by T2 and proton density signal increase. Torn annulus repair is seen in all.”
Eyerman, Edward MD. Simple pelvic traction gives inconsistent relief to herniated lumbar disc sufferers. Journal of Neuroimaging. Paper presented to the American Society of Neuroimaging, Orlando, Florida 2-26-98.
“Results showed that 86% of the 219 patients who completed the therapy reported immediate resolution of symptoms, while 84% remained pain-free 90 days post-treatment. Physical examination findings showed improvement in 92% of the 219 patients, and remained intact in 89% of these patients 90 days after treatment.”
Gionis, Thomas MD; Groteke, Eric DC. Surgical Alternatives: Spinal Decompression. Orthopedic Technology Review. 2003; 6 (5).
“All but two of the patients in the study improved at least 30% or more in the first three weeks.” “Utilizing the outcome measures, this form of decompression reduces symptoms and improves activities of daily living.”
Bruce Gundersen, DC, FACO; Michael Henrie, MS II, Josh Christensen, DC. A Clinical Trial on Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Using Vertebral Axial Distraction Delivered by a Computerized Traction Device. The Academy of Chiropractic Orthopedists, Quarterly Journal of ACO, June 2004
Wikipedia’s opinion about Spinal Decompression Therapy Effectiveness
In a small randomized study of 44 subjects, in which one author disclosed a proprietary interest in Vax-D, it was shown to have a clinical success rate of 68.4%. 11
A 2004 report by the State of Washington Department of Labor and Industries concluded “Published literature has not substantially shown whether powered traction devices are more effective than other forms of traction, other conservative treatments, or surgery.” 12 A 2005 review of VAX-D (including the Sherry study above) by the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia concluded “To date there is no evidence that the VAX-D system is effective in treating chronic LBP associated with herniated disc, degenerative disc, posterior facet syndrome, sciatica or radiculopathy.” 13
A 2006 systematic review of studies of spinal decompression using motorized traction devices conducted between 1975 and October 2005 (including the two mentioned above) concluded that “…the efficacy of spinal decompression achieved with motorized traction for chronic discogenic low back pain [remained] unproved”, and called for “Scientifically more rigorous studies with better randomization, control groups, and standardized outcome measures … to overcome the limitations of past studies.” 14 A technology assessment conducted in 2007 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (for which the two studies cited above were included for analysis) said “Currently available evidence is too limited in quality and quantity to allow for the formulation of evidence-based conclusions regarding the efficacy of decompression therapy as a therapy for chronic back pain when compared with other non-surgical treatment options.” 15
A 2007 critique of research studies, including the two cited above, said:
There is very limited evidence in the scientific literature to support the effectiveness of non-surgical spinal decompression therapy. This intervention has never been compared to exercise, spinal manipulation, standard medical care or other less expensive conservative treatment options which have an ample body of research demonstrating efficacy. Considering the cost-benefit relationship, many better researched and less expensive treatment options are available to the clinician. 16
The truth about nonsurgical spinal decompression studies
- Sherry, Eugene; Kitchener, Peter; Smart, Russell (October 2001). “A prospective randomized controlled study of VAX-D and TENS for the treatment of chronic low back pain”. Neurological Research 23 (7): 780–784. doi:10.1179/016164101101199180. PMID 11680522. One author disclosed a proprietary interest in Vax-D.
- Wang, Grace (2004-06-14). “Powered Traction Devices for Intervertebral Decompression” (PDF). Health Technology Asessment (sic) Update. Office of the Medical Director – Department of Labor and Industries – State of Washington. http://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Files/OMD/TractionTechAssessJun142004.pdf. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- Martin, Craig W (February 2005). “Vertebral Axial Decompression For Low Back Pain” (PDF). WCB Evidence Based Practice Group – Program Design Division – Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia. http://www.worksafebc.com/health_care_providers/Assets/PDF/vertebral_axial_decompression_low_back_pain.pdf. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- Macario, A; Pergolizzi, JV (September 2006). “Systematic literature review of spinal decompression via motorized traction for chronic discogenic low back pain”. Pain Practice 6 (3): 171–8. doi:10.1111/j.1533-2500.2006.00082.x. PMID 17147594.
- Jurecki-Tiller, Marie; Bruening, Wendy; Tregear, Stephen; Schoelles, Karen; Erinoff, Eileen; Coates, Vivian; ECRI Institute Evidence-based Practice Center (2007-04-26). “Decompression Therapy for the Treatment of Lumbosacral Pain” (PDF). Technology Assessments. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – United States Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cms.hhs.gov/determinationprocess/downloads/id47TA.pdf. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- Daniel, Dwain M (2007-05-18). “Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy: does the scientific literature support efficacy claims made in the advertising media?”. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 15 (7): 7. doi:10.1186/1746-1340-15-7. PMC 1887522. PMID 17511872.