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Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression in Scottsdale


Non-surgical Spinal decompression involves pulling specific vertebrae apart through a special motorized traction table in an attempt to:

  • Create negative pressure in the intervertebral disc in order to promote retraction of a herniated or bulging disc.
  • Create an influx of oxygen, water and other nutrients into the disc to restore the height. [1]
  • Reduce pressure on a spinal nerve

The intervertebral discs in the spine act like shock absorbers. There is a disc in between each bony vertebra. These cartilaginous joints act like ligaments that hold the vertebrae of the spine together and allow mobility of the spine.

Patients that have neck pain, low back pain or pain going down an arm or leg are candidates for non-surgical spinal decompression.

The idea for the DRX9000 began with observations in space.    When astronauts experienced weightlessness during antigravity, the pressure on their spines were reduced and disc spaces were increased. [2]

spinal decompression on the DRX-9000

What Is Spinal Decompression?

Why is non-surgical spinal decompression done?

Treatment with the Decompression Reduction Extraction (DRX) 9000 is an advanced intermittent traction technology that allows treatment at a specific intervertebral disc.

When intervertebral discs budge, protrude or herniate, they can cause low back pain or neck pain.    When the inner part of these gelatinous discs press on nerve roots, they can cause pain, numbness, tingling, weakness or a combination symptoms.    The symptoms can also travel the length of the nerve they are affecting; so, pain or numbness can be present in an arm, hand, leg or foot.

Non-surgical decompression, especially the DRX9000, uses a controlled amount of force specific to the patient and spinal segment to gently pull apart the neighboring vertebrae in order to create a small vacuum-like effect to promote resorption of the herniated disc material, and restore disc height.    By creating more disc height and “pulling back in” the disc material, pressure is taken off of the surrounding nerve root which leads to a decrease in symptoms.

Patients seek non-surgical decompression for a variety of conditions including:

  • Bulging discs [3]
  • Herniated discs [3]
  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD) [3]
  • Worn out spinal joints (posterior facet syndrome) [3]
  • Sciatica (pain going down the leg) [3]
  • Leg pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Radiculopathy
  • Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots
  • Pinched Nerves

Risks/Complications of treatment

There are no long-term risks associated with non-surgical spinal decompression. [4]

Possible short-term risks include:

• Mild soreness/discomfort

• possible muscle spasm. [4]

These side effects can be controlled with ice, tens, ultrasound or cold laser.

How you prepare

Before your non-surgical spinal decompression treatment, your doctor will likely:

  • Review your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions in regards your condition, to prior treatment interventions, current medications, current or prior conditions, family history, etc.
  • Review your imaging. Be sure to bring any pertinent imaging with you such as x-rays or MRIs.    If you do not have any, the doctor will likely be ordering them.
  • Do a physical exam. Your doctor will perform an exam that may include: vital signs, range of motion testing, or orthopedic testing.
  • Discuss your expectations. Talk with your doctor about reasons for seeking treatment, risks, how many treatments you might need, and how long it will take for results.

Food and medications

  • There are no dietary or medication restrictions.

Clothing and personal items

  • The lower harness wraps around the patient’s hips and clips to a belt in between the legs.    Skirts and dresses would not be appropriate, shorts or pants would be more appropriate.
  • Many patients have something to read or listen to music during treatment.

What happens during non-surgical spinal decompression on the DRX9000?

During non-surgical spinal decompression for the low back, patients remain clothed and lie on a special motorized table:

  • Two harnesses are fitted to the patient and placed around the hips. [3]
  • The Patient steps onto a platform at the base of the DRX9000.    The platform has a scale in it to obtain the patient’s weight which is used to calculate appropriate pressure to be applied during the treatment. [3]
  • The harnesses on the patient are tightened and attached belts and buckles located on the DRX9000. [3]
  • A pillow is placed under the patient’s legs to ensure the knees are slightly flexed. [3]
  • The table is tilted down so the patient is lying on their back. [3]

For non-surgical spinal decompression on the neck:

  • The patient lies down into a cradle is fitted to the head and neck. [3]
  • The cradle is attached to belts located on the DRX9000. [3]
  • A pillow is placed under the patient’s legs to ensure the knees are slightly flexed. [3]

After parameters for treatment and a specific disc level is chosen, pull begins with the press of a button.    Pressure and pull can be stopped or adjusted at any point during the treatment. [3]

Pressure cycles from half to full pull throughout the 30-minute treatment.

Typically, non-surgical spinal decompression is painless; however, a stretch in the spine may be felt.

After non-surgical spinal decompression on the DRX9000

While non-surgical spinal decompression is typically painless, there may be some mild discomfort after due to the paravertebral muscles consolidating [3].    The discomfort is short-lived and can be further decreased with ice.

Frequency and number of sessions vary case-by-case; however, Axiom Worldwide, the inventors of the DRX9000, recommend the following protocol:

  • 5X a week for the first 2 weeks [3]
  • 3X a week for the following 2 weeks [3]
  • 2X a week for last 2 weeks [3]
  • Once a month for maintenance [3]

The recommended frequency will be adjusted to fit the patient’s specific condition and needs.


  1. Ramos, G., & Martin, W. (1994). Effects of vertebral axial decompression on intradiscal pressure. Journal of Neurosurgery, 81(3), 350–353.

  2. Excite Medical. (2018, Aug 8). DRX9000 Explained by a Neurosurgeon - How does it work? Excite Medical.

  3. Axiom Worldwide, Inc. (2000). DRX9000 Operator’s Manual PN 64-0001 Rev. B. Tampa, FL. Axiom Worldwide, Inc.

  4. Stubblefield, H. (2017, July 9). Spinal Traction. Healthline.

  5. Apfel, C. C., Cakmakkaya, O. S., Martin, W., Richmond, C., Macario, A., George, E., Schaefer, M., & Pergolizzi, J. V. (2010). Restoration of disk height through non-surgical spinal decompression is associated with decreased discogenic low back pain: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 11(1).

  6. Richmond, C., Leslie, J., Macario, A., Apfel, C., Florio, F., Auster, M., & Pergolizzi, J. (2008). 716. Pilot: Effectiveness & Safety of Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression. Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine, 33(Suppl 1), e219.1-e219.

  7. Pergolizzi, J., Yochum, T., Florio, F., Richmond, C., & McCain, B. S. (2008). Management of Discogenic Low-back Pain with a Non-surgical Decompression System (DRX9000TM)—Case Report. Touch Breifings, 3(1), 14–15.


  9. Leslie, J. B., Pergolizzi, J. V., Pergolizzi, A., Apfel, C. C., Clair, D., Richmond, C., Florio, F., Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, Departments of Anesthesia and Health Research and Policy, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, Clinical Research Consultants LLC, San Francisco, California, Vibrance Medical Group, Beverly Hills, California, NEMA Research, Inc., Naples, Florida, Axiom Worldwide, Inc., Tampa, Florida, & Department of Radiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. (2008). Prospective Evaluation of the Efficacy of Spinal Decompression via the DRX9000 for Chronic Low Back Pain. The Journal of Medicine. Published.

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