Non-surgical Spinal Decompression: Hoax or Evidence Based?

Traction has been used in the treatment of low back pain for decades, if not centuries.

However, recently re-branded and glorified as the miracle cure are traction machines costing over $100,000. Their radio ads, full-page ads in newspapers and pamphlets claim 86-90% success rates.

A 2007 article analyzed the relationship between marketing claims and the scientific literature on non-surgical spinal decompression.

Two commonly quoted articles in the advertising of spinal decompression are found in a non peer-reviewed journal or in “informational” sections of an Internet newsletter.

A letter to the editor of the Archives of Medical Rehabilitation, regarding a spinal decompression advertisement printed, stated “it appears this is a paid advertisement intentionally created in such a manner to deceive readers into believing that it is a true news story that the editors decided to publish for the information of its readers…all these components attempt to create the impression that it is an objective piece of medical journalism?.

In a Nutshell: It can safely be stated that the few studies that exist on these expensive traction devices are
i) biased with financial interest
ii) of low quality
iii) making exaggerated claims.

Regrettably, due to amazing marketing, desperate patients pay thousands of dollars on this treatment approach with the hopes of a cure.

Posted on: January 26, 2010

Categories: Lumbar Spine

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