People with chronic lower back pain in surrounding areas may have a new alternative to surgery soon. The vertebral axial decompression machine, or VAX-D, was recently installed at Thomson Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, and the first patient was treated on the table Tuesday.
The machine was developed by Dr. Allen Dryer, the same doctor that invented the defibrillator. VAX-D treatments consist of 30-45 minute sessions on the machine that creates negative pressure on the lumbar vertebrae of the spine, allowing the back to heal without surgery.
Nurse Sarah North talks while a patient uses the VAX-D.
Jason B. Smith
"I think we are going to be impressed with the results of this," said Dr. John Bieltz of Thomson Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. "We've got a lot of patients who have been anxious about this treatment."
According to Anthony Calandra, director of regional sales for VAX-D, the treatment is 80 percent effective in reducing or eliminating back pain for all comers. If the patients are screened, he said the effectiveness rises well above 90 percent.
The machine was in the developmental stages for seven years and was approved by the FDA in 1989. The VAX-D table at Thomson Orthopedic and Sports Medicine is the only one in the area and one of a handful in the state.
"It allows doctors to achieve what surgery does without the surgery," Mr. Calandra said.
The price of treatments on the VAX-D is about 10 percent of the price of back surgery, Mr. Calandra said.