Traction is NOT Decompression

From the desk of Dr Tim Burkhart

A little background on me which might explain my clinical perspective, I integrated non-surgical axial spinal decompression treatment into my practice in 2008. Since then, I have treated hundreds of patients with a comprehensive decompression protocol. Having been in practice for over 28 years, I can truly say the results have been amazing.

More and more people are seeking this treatment as an alternative to surgery and other invasive medical treatment. As I explain spinal decompression to patients, one of the most frequent questions I am asked, other than how much it will cost is, “What is the difference between traction and decompression?”

Currently, I believe there is a lot of confusion due to misinformation and a lack of understanding about what true spinal decompression is and how it benefits a patient. Many doctors and therapists make no distinction between the two treatments. Moreover, few in the medical community understand the significance of a comprehensive spinal decompression treatment protocol. Even many equipment sales and training personnel say that decompression therapy is traction. Based on the results I have seen over the years, this is far from the truth. Stating that decompression is traction is like saying a flip phone from 2002 is the same as a 4G Smart phone. Yes, both devices will make a phone call, but that is where the similarities end.

Only Hill DT Spinal Decompression brings healing nutrients to the disc with a negative pressured pulsating pattern that is simply not possible with traction.

You could also make the argument that a CT scan is in fact an x-ray evaluation. Yes, the CT uses radiation, but it is much different than a plain view x-ray film that might be taken in a medical or chiropractic facility. So, what’s the difference? The difference is the technology of the equipment used.

Pulling a patient in opposite directions with a set of cables attached to their spine, as with traction, IS NOT the same as a patient directly captured to a table that is monitoring decompressive force in millisecond intervals. Straight line or axial traction has been around as a back treatment for a long time. Unfortunately, traction treatment has had a poor record of treating chronic low back pain or similar conditions. If one considers the study done by Anderson & Nachemson, intervertebral disc pressure actually was found to significantly increase under traction. This is an inconvenient truth for those who argue that decompression is traction and traction is decompression.

In 1994, Gustaro Ramos, MD, was able to establish that decompression treatment could significantly reduce intradiscal pressures. Decreased pressure in the intervertebral disc leads to, by its very nature, a “phasic physiological” change that can bring about positive outcomes in patient care.

As more research and case studies are published, the body of evidence shows that, coupled with a comprehensive approach, decompression IS different than traction. The primary difference between axial traction and spinal decompression is the progressive logarithmic computer application of force that overcomes the patient’s muscle contraction. In 1997, a study authored by C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, clearly demonstrated that better outcomes were noted when patients were treated with decompression vs. traction.

I have seen the difference firsthand when using a traction-based strap or cable pull system prior to using our current direct patient capture logarithmic system. Patients’ number one complaint from the traction based system was muscle spasm, guarding or painful splinting of trunk musculature post treatment. No doctor or therapist wants to see a patient become more acute after his or her treatment. Once we began using the Hill DT system, our patients rarely, if ever, complained of an increase in spasms or pain after their treatment. In fact, many of our patients fall asleep during their 20-30 minute treatment!