Skip to content

Health & Balance

Font Size
A
A
A

Getting Rid of That Aching Back.

Avoiding the Knife

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Craig H. Kliger, MD

April 2, 2001 -- Eric Taylor suffered from back pain for almost 30 years. He tried physical therapy, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medicines, and surgery, but nothing worked. His doctor told him he could have steel rods placed in his spine or put up with the pain for the rest of his life.

Taylor sought an alternative. A friend told him about a new procedure called vertebral axial decompression (VAX-D) that might relieve pain without surgery. Taylor thought, why not?

Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

True View

According to Meredith Vieira, who for nine years has famously shared a couch and her opinions on ABC's hit morning talk show The View, "any illness is a family illness. It is the other person in the room - a living, breathing [person] who is there with you. To ignore an illness is not healthy, particularly if it's chronic." Vieira may trade quips and barbs on every subject from politics to pop culture with co-hosts Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Star Jones-Reynolds, but when...

Read the True View article > >

"As long as it was nonsurgical and noninvasive, I was open to it," says Taylor, a 54-year-old attorney in St. Louis. "I was ready."

Nearly 70% of all people will suffer from low-back pain at some point in their lives, according to the CDC. It is the most common work-related injury, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports. There is little, however, that can be done. Bed rest is the most prescribed remedy, followed by exercise, muscle relaxants, pain medication, physical therapy, chiropractic intervention, and surgery. These and other methods often fail to provide long-term relief. But researchers say there is new hope: The VAX-D therapeutic table.

Approved by the FDA in 1996, the device was designed by Allan E. Dyer, MD, PhD, a former Canadian deputy health minister who helped develop the heart defibrillator. Treatment using the table is said to relieve lower back pain by applying tension to the spinal column to decompress the intervertebral discs.

A study published in April 1998 in The Journal of Neurological Research found that VAX-D is effective in relieving pain in 71% of cases. The majority of the 778 patients -- cases reviewed from 22 centers across the country -- reported a reduction in pain to a level of 0 or 1 on a 0 to 5 scale (with 5 being the highest level of pain). About 1% of patients reported an increase in pain, while 7% experienced no change. About 4% of the patients had had previous lumbar disc surgery. The researchers suggest that postsurgical patients who still have persistent pain should try VAX-D before considering further surgery.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
Take your medication
Slideshow
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Article
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Slideshow
 
Woman worn out on couch
Article
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
Article
laughing family
Quiz