A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Colorado Springs Spinal Decompression
"What is this "miracle cure" that keeps popping up on TV and radio ads and littering my mailbox? Is it all that it is cracked up to be?"
Well, yes and no. Here are the facts:
The Top 4 Misunderstood Facts About
1. When and why would someone use spinal decompression?
Spinal decompression is a computerized form of mechanical traction, approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Traction is the literal language for what happens during a treatment and decompression is the metaphorical.
Traction (which is technically axial elongation resulting in intervertebral distraction) is necessary to allow decompression (reduction of pressure on the disc).
The FDA has disallowed the term spinal decompression, because there is no machine available on the market to measure the decompression during treatment. Of course, this does not mean that decompression does not happen. It just means it cannot be measured.
There have been many attempts to separate spinal decompression from its predecessor (traction), but these attempts were eventually charged by the FDA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in 2007. The FBI raided the manufacturer of the DRX9000 (pictured above) in 2007, due to allegations of false advertising. Even one of their hired marketers was fined tens of thousands of dollars in Oregon.
Though the DRX sure looks slick, for this and several other reasons you will see below, we have stayed away from the DRX.
If you search hard enough, you will find mud on decompression. However, this does not mean it is not effective. It only means that its claims are likely overrated.
The concept of mechanical traction is not new, however the original concept has been greatly improved upon, both in the look and feel of the machine. Decompression tables can be therapeutic for many signs and symptoms, and for some, it truly is a "miracle cure."
To truly find out if spinal decompression can work for you, it is best to get MRI, which gives you a visual image of the disc. X-ray does not show the disc, though you can see if the space between the vertebrae have been lessened, which may indicate a "slipped" or herniated disc.
Despite some of the legal entanglements over particular companies advertising and terminology, decompression has produced results, and here are a few of the major signs and symptoms that can be helped by spinal decompression:
- "Pinched Nerve"
- "Slipped Disc"
- Herniated Disc or "bulging" disc
- Numbness in legs or arms
Sciatica (shooting pains down the legs)
- Spinal Stenosis
- Chornic Back Pain
- And more...
2. Does size matter? Why do some machines cost so much while others do not?
At the peak of the spinal decompression market, fancy models were sold to doctors for upwards of $150,000. That's steep! Due to a glut in the market and doctor's not able pay their bills, the decompression table market has fallen through the floor.
The original steep price forced these doctors to charge upwards of $150 per visit, but in order to do that, the machine had to look worthy of that kind of dough. That is why some of these machines, like the DRX9000 (photographed above to the left) look like they can launch you into outer space.
The reality is that some of the less fancy models, which often cost the patient 50-75% less per treatment (like the model shown to the right), do a better job because they are more adjustable and you can put the patient into various positions while doing traction, rather than just flat on their backs.
3. Who is qualified to operate these machines? Aren't they dangerous?
As with most things, if the doctor knows what they are doing, and they have properly diagnosed the symptoms, then spinal decompression is likely not dangerous. But, that is a big "IF."
The ugly truth is that a non-certified assistant can operate these things, even if the doctor is not certified. There are several organizations that certify via 3-4 day seminars, but not all doctors get certified, especially if they have purchased their machine in the secondary resale market.
4. Is spinal decompression a miracle cure, or are their other ways to do the same thing?
There are several techniques that can help the same symptoms that spinal decompression addresses. And sometimes, spinal decompression doesn't help while these others
Core strengthening and stretching alone have helped low back, herniated disc sufferers.
Simple yoga poses have helped patients.
FDA-approved cold laser therapy, like our MicroLight 830, has helped reduce pain symptoms.
Chiropractic adjustment has done wonders for many patients where spinal decompression hasn't (and vice versa).
Physiotherapy, exercises and soft tissue/muscle work has helped some too.
So, don't feel cornered into spinal decompression; especially not a gigantic care plan (sometimes upwards of $5,000 - $6,000) without knowing your options and exploring them. We have literally seen a simple yoga stretch help a patient after they had already spent $2,500 on decompression at another clinic.
We do offer spinal decompression in Colorado Springs at our clinic, but it is not a one-size-fits all treatment. We chose to purchase and use what we believe to be the most capable and affordable spinal decompression table on the market, so that we can pass those savings onto our patients. That way, we aren't burdened with debt, and you aren't either.