For low back pain, there is flexion-distraction. And for flexion-distraction, there are tables. This well-known treatment technique has helped countless people find relief from low back pain, while utilizing specially-designed flexion-distraction tables that counter-balance your patients and help you to properly administer the application. Today, many chiropractors have at least one flexion-distraction table, and the choices are many, with each manufacturer adding something special to their products that enables you to achieve better outcomes during treatment.
Technique and table, together
With flexion-distraction, pressure is applied to specific areas of contact that are intended to relieve pain, as well as restore range of motion and realign the spine. As you control the process, it is usually a very gentle experience for the patient. This makes flexion-distraction particularly well-suited for patients who need a lighter touch, such as those with osteoporosis or of an advanced age. If a level of 50 percent relief is not achieved after four weeks of treatments, you may refer the patient for imaging studies or a specialist consult. However, if at least 50 percent relief is achieved, you then repeat the flexion-distraction process until the goal is realized, which may include a reduction of pain and the restoration of functionality. Of the most well-known techniques in chiropractic today is the Cox Technic.
Developed in the 1960s by James Cox, DC, the Cox Technic is based on chiropractic and osteopathic principles noted in the Manual of Osteopathic Technique by Alan Stoddard, DO, which was written about the early 1900s manipulative procedures of John McManis, DO. Years of refining have gone into the Cox Technic, which is taught in chiropractic schools and written about in textbooks. With its hands-on approach that uses a special flexion-distraction table, the technique is widely used today for cervical and lumbar disc herniations, as well as to increase spinal joint mobility and non-disc spinal disorders. Tables that are suitable for the Cox Technic include features such as a long y-axis that allows you to focus on each individual segment while maintaining control.
Whether you are Cox Technic certified or not, there is no shortage of tables available on the market today that focus on flexion-distraction technique. The right table enables you to perform the treatment according to your specifications.
Bringing technique to the table
While there are many choices in flexion-distraction tables, a specific brand of table isn’t necessary to perform flexion-distraction techniques.
Many practitioners who offer flexion-distraction rely on one of the most well-known tables to perform the technique. Its adjusting features include a ball hand grip that reduces stress on the hands and wrists while performing the adjustment. Other movements that can be performed include lateral flexion, extension, flexion, circumduction and cervical rotation.
Another popular flexion-distraction table offers a pneumatic system that helps to counterbalance the weight of the patient, as well as air-powered abdominal thoracic breakaways. Optional features include auto-distraction and cervical flexion headpiece.
There are also tables that focus on variability over technique, allowing you to perform a broad range of adjusting techniques. Featuring several drop variations and extensive adjustability, these all-in-one tables offer great flexibility in performing flexion-distraction.
However, the hallmark of any flexion-distraction table is that it lets you perform the technique properly, while documenting the protocols utilized for each condition. The tables can also be used in conjunction with electric muscle stim, ultrasound, strengthening exercises and ice/heat therapy to increase successful outcomes.
Where the tables are
If you are interested in offering flexion-distraction treatment, or already provide it, your table is the center of the universe (along with your technique, of course). Selecting a table that works for you and your patients takes time. Look at the research and development that goes into the table, and ask to review supportive materials that outline the protocols for using a specific technique with it. And by all-means, seek-out colleagues and manufacturer representatives to guide you on the journey toward the right table – after all, it’s the place where the good that is flexion-distraction technique occurs.
Julie Duck is the former editor of Chiropractic Products and a healthcare writer with more than 16 years of experience. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.