Feature Archive

VAX-D: Treating Back Pain Without Surgery

Experts discuss the effectiveness of a back pain treatment that offers an alternative to surgery.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

Before a sudden onset of excruciating back pain left him barely able to stand, retired internist Ernie Reiner, MD, was busy volunteering at a health clinic in Tampa, Fla., and improving his golf and tennis game. After several tests showed a herniated disk and lumbar stenosis (narrowing of the spine in the lower back), he reluctantly scheduled back surgery. Having been through the slow and painful recovery from back surgery once before, he dreaded another round.

Searching for alternatives, Reiner discovered vertebral axial decompression therapy (VAX-D), a relatively new, noninvasive form of traction-like therapy for low back pain. After 28 treatments lasting 45 minutes each, he considered himself recovered. "I canceled my surgery date and never rescheduled," Reiner says. Six years later, the 85-year-old continues to swing a golf club and a tennis racket vigorously.

How VAX-D Works

In principle, VAX-D works by alternately stretching and relaxing the lower spine, thereby relieving pressure on structures in the back (the "cushion" disks and vertebral bones) that cause low back pain.


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