Did you know that the majority of people on this entire planet have experienced low back pain at least once in their lifetime? They may only experience it once and never have it again, but many people experience low back pain for weeks, months and even years. What are the next steps? Over-the-counter medicine, prescription drugs, injections, physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, surgery? Unfortunately, many people take this path and have no relief and continues to get worse. What if we told you that there is an answer to all of your prayers? Have you ever considered looking into non-surgical spinal decompression? If this sounds like you or someone you know who is suffering from low back or neck pain, you are going to want to read this week’s blog as we discuss what non-surgical spinal decompression is and who it can help.

Brief History of Decompression

The first non-surgical spinal decompression was developed and manufactured in 1985 by former Canadian Minister of Health Allan Dyer, MD. He called it Vax-D (Vertebral Axial Decompression). He is also recognized as a pioneer in the development of the external cardiac defibrillator that we see in hospitals today. Several years later, neurosurgeon, Norm Shealy, MD, Ph.D. brought the DRX-9000 to life. The DRX-9000 is what we use in our facility. After buying out Axiom Worldwide in 2007, founder and CEO of Excite Medical, Saleem Musallam, has obtained manufacturing operations for the DRX-9000 and promotes the decompression services to doctors all over the world. He has also gathered and conducted studies involving results using his decompression tables and shares them with doctors globally to show patients interested in services proof of success.

Spinal Decompression VS. Spinal Traction

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of decompression, we first need to discuss a big misconception between spinal traction and spinal decompression. We can’t begin to tell you how many decompression candidates have walked into our office and said that they received spinal traction at another chiropractor’s office, and it was unsuccessful. That’s because it was spinal traction and not spinal decompression. On the outside, they may look similar, but looking at it deeper, the science and technology behind spinal decompression makes it completely different to spinal traction.

Other than a patient strapped in, laying on a table being pulled by a cord, the two therapies utilize a completely different mechanism. Spinal traction pulls the patient continuously at a certain weight based on the patient’s weight and stretches the entire spine. Spinal decompression angles the table to a certain degree depending on the affected disc level, so it only pulls one disc level of the spine versus the entire spine like traction. Another distinct difference between the two is that spinal decompression has a pull pump mechanism where spinal traction only has the pull mechanism. The pumping mechanism is a huge component for rehydrating a damaged disc.

The biggest take home from all of this is that spinal traction does not have a set or defined treatment protocol. Its goal is to pull the spine, open the disc space and eliminate pain associated with the disc. There is no set weight, set number of visits or weight progression throughout care. Spinal decompression on the other hand has a set and defined treatment protocol that we will discuss momentarily.

What Conditions Does Spinal Decompression Treat?

Decompression can help patients with failed surgeries, back pain, sciatica, herniated, bulging and protruding disc, degenerative disc disease, facet syndrome, tingling or burning sensations, leg/arm pain, neck pain, and loss of sensation. Another great candidate for this service is someone experiencing chronic pain who has tried almost everything to get out of pain. If you are saying, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t in pain? then decompression might be your saving grace. Just because someone doesn’t have a disc injury doesn’t mean they aren’t a candidate for spinal decompression. Think back to the patient at the very beginning of the blog. This patient tried everything to get out of pain. This is the vicious cycle that we see in our practice every day. The goal in our practice is to restore each patient’s health and life. If we don’t think we are the doctor who can help, we will let you know and get you took a doctor who can.

How Does The Decompression Protocol Work?

The DRX-9000 that we utilize in our facility has three different units: DRX-9000, which is a lumbar unit, DRX-9000c, which is a cervical unit and DRX-9000 Combination System which is a lumbar & cervical unit combined. We have the privilege of having two lumbar units and one combo unit.

The DRX-9000 works on the injuries that happen due to nerve compression by applying an equal amount of pressure on the vertebral columns by stretching the spine and creating a gap in between the discs. With improved flow of nutrients through the vertebral columns, injuries heal slowly and steadily after regular DRX9000 decompression treatment sessions. Each decompression patient has a treatment plan that is designed specifically for the patient’s needs. It all depends on the patient case and the severity of the condition. Typically, sessions last 25 minutes each protocol, and consists of 20-30 sessions. Treatment is broken into 5 times per week for the first 2 weeks, 3 times per week for the next 2 weeks and 2 times a week for the remaining 2 weeks. After each session, patients are given 10 minutes of electric muscle stimulation to help relax muscles and reduce inflammation.

Spinal Decompression VS Spinal Surgery

Patients always try to find alternative ways to get out of pain before choosing the worst-case scenario…surgery. Surgery doesn’t only have a high unsuccessful rate, but it also is very expensive, even with insurance. With only a 20% success rate, surgery isn’t the golden ticket to a better life. Spinal decompression has a very high success rate of 93% and is not even remotely in the same ballpark price as surgery.

Unfortunately, we encounter patients who chose the surgical route. It was unsuccessful and they spent large quantities of money on a procedure that did absolutely nothing. We have helped many patients who had failed back/neck surgeries using our decompression service and we really wish that they knew there was an easier, safer and more effective way to achieve pain relief.

How Does Our Facility Operate The Decompression Program?

Just like a chiropractic patient, we will not perform decompression until we sit down with the patient and discuss the issue at hand, take a set of x-rays and conduct a thorough neurological examination. We also like to take a look at any MRI or diagnostic imaging to help confirm an appropriate diagnosis. In order to give patients the lives they want, we must first know exactlynwhat is wrong so we know what type of examination we need to perform and the extensive treatment plan we need to design to meet established goals. Once the patient has agreed to care, we begin treatment immediately including spinal manipulation, decompression and 10 minutes of electric muscle stimulation during each visit. Once the patient has completed their decompression program, we assign a maintenance program, but we will discuss that in another weekly blog.

Here is our biggest take home message from this week’s blog: If you or someone you know are tired of living in pain and have tried just about anything to do just that, please consider non- surgical spinal decompression. It could be your saving grace. If you have any questions about spinal decompression, please feel free to call us at (724) 547-3377 and checkout our website at for more content on spinal decompression.

Yours In Health,

Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC