Is Spinal Decompression the Same as Traction? PART 2

Posted on 29 Aug 02:30
The debate continues . . . In PART 1, we discussed some of the reasons doctors and clinical personnel have mistakenly argued that spinal decompression and traction are NOT the same. Here are some of the most common reasons given to claim that spinal decompression is superior to traction. Patents Spinal decompression table manufacturers have been touting their “patents” for years as an explanation of why spinal decompression and traction are nothing alike and that spinal decompression is far superior in every way. In response to our question concerning why the AccuSpina spinal decompression table was different from traction table the AccuSpina sales rep replied, “Our machines have more than 5 patents.” Sorry, but a patent does not make one product superior to another product any more than a license to drive somehow qualifies someone as a professional race car driver.  While we applaud companies for going through the patent process, which can be an expensive procedure, the existence of a patent does not explain “why” a spinal decompression table is different than a traction table. Expense One doctor went on to say “The reason why treatment using the Evolution DT®, a true vertebral axial decompression table, is more expensive than traction tables is because the technology that is implemented is very advanced and expensive,” basically assuming that one is better than the other is because it is more expensive. A manufacturer also used expense as justification, saying, “Our decompression motor cost 5 times what a traction motor costs.” While some spinal decompression motors are more expensive than others, the essential difference is the smoothness of pull during treatment and the patient’s recognition of the amount of pull that is occurring.  On some tables, 80 pounds of force may be perceived as “a lot of force” while on others, 80 lbs of force my be perceived as little to no force at.  So while the quality, smoothness and ramping up response may lead to different perceptions, it doesn’t distinguish spinal decompression from traction. Logrythmic Curve Another doctor explained the difference by pointing to logrhythmic curves and anti-muscle guarding technology, suggesting that a motorized response to resistance at several hundred times per second makes a difference. While a logrhythmic curve can have a significant impact on the ramping up and ramping down of a treatment, we were not able to find a single manufacturer in the last 9 years that wasn’t using a motor based on a logrhythmic curve.  Anything manufactured in the last 10 years is probably based on a logrhythmic curve. Yes, even the “fake” and “fraudulent” Triton DTS is based on a logrhythmic curve and has the ability to change everything that a “true” decompression table can change including angle, force, time and ramping up and ramping down. In fact, the Triton DTS actually allows you to change 80% more variables than the DRX900, which only allows you to adjust the time, angle and force. While a logrhythmic curve can have a significant impact on ramping up and ramping down during treatment, we were not able to find a shred of evidence supporting this argument. Dr Jay Kennedy, one of the world’s foremost spinal decompression experts says, "It is interesting that there is not a single published study that cross-compares a logarithmic device to a linear device. In my experience, having cross-compared my VAX-D to less expensive linear devices, the result was identical."  Dr. Kennedy goes on to say, "No science exists to support the notion that elongating muscles/soft tissue will trigger contraction at the speed that traction forces are normally applied, regardless of the linear or logarithmic nature of the pull. Biomechanically speaking, if the paraspinal muscles did contract in response to being elongated, it is obvious that we would see the patient driven into hyperextension. Having tractioned/decompressed thousands of patients, I have yet to see this occur. Additionally, there are no fewer than four published trials that show vertebral separation during inversion therapy which further debunk the notion of reflexive guarding." Check it out for yourself: Kennedy J. Debunking the Myths of Decompression. In: KDT Newsflash Extra, April 2008. But wait, there’s more. Look for our next blog on the topic soon. Are you buying the claims of superiority? For up to date info on the latest in decompression technology, simply email your questions at You’ll hear from us with answers right away.