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VAX-D stands for vertebral axial decompression

 I see a sign outside a local clinic advertising the new VAX-D treatment for low back pain. What is this? I have low back pain off and on. Could this help me?

VAX-D stands for vertebral axial decompression. It is a type of lumbar traction system that is fairly new on the market. The manufacturers boast that the improved technology makes this unit more successful than traditional or conventional traction units.

VAX-D has a low-friction surface that keeps the patient from sliding up and down on the table. The patient is positioned prone (face down) instead of supine (face up) on the table. An automated logic-control mechanism provides a unique type of traction pull. This is not available in other (more standard or conventional) traction units.

Obviously, pregnancy is a limiting factor in having this type of traction. But if you have back and/or leg pain from a disc problem, then you may be a good candidate for VAX-D traction.

Previous surgery to the spine may mean you won't qualify for this type of treatment. Anyone with osteoporosis of the spine, severe stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), or bone cancer can't have traction either.

You can always call the clinic and ask if there are any guidelines for patients who can (or can't) have this treatment. Consult with the doctor or therapist to see if you might benefit from this approach.

Limited studies using the VAX-D suggest there are very few problems after using it. Most patients report decreased pain and increased function after a six to eight week course of treatment.

Paul F. Beattie, PhD, PT, OCS, et al. Outcomes After a Prone Lumbar Traction Protocol for Patients with Activity-Limiting Low Back Pain: A Prospective Case Series Study. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabiliation. February 2008. Vol. 89. No. 2. Pp. 269-274.