When it comes to chiropractic care, there are many different tables available to professionals in the field.
And it is estimated that over 50 percent of them use a treatment method called flexion distraction, making this particular type of table extremely common in chiropractic offices across the nation.
Flexion distraction defined
Flexion distraction is a chiropractic technique developed by James M. Cox, DC, roughly 50 years ago. This particular treatment method embraces a combination of chiropractic and osteopathic principles using mobilization of various body parts and slow manual traction to treat many different forms of pain that can affect a person’s back, neck, legs, and arms.
Some of the most common conditions treated with the use of flexion distraction tables include herniated discs, back pain as a result of pregnancy, spinal stenosis, and more.
Flexion distraction table basics
A large number of chiropractic tables are designed to respond to quick thrusts from the chiropractor, thereby realigning the spine. Some are called drop tables because various sections drop under the pressure, using gravity to help return the spinal column to a healthier position.
A flexion table, on the other hand, was developed to work best with slow and controlled movements. With this particular option, the chiropractor manipulates the patient’s body by moving portions of the table as opposed to a more hands-on approach which requires physically manipulating the patient’s limbs and torso.
How well does flexion distraction work?
In a study published in European Spine Journal, researchers found that the use of flexion distraction is beneficial for people who suffer from chronic lower back pain (defined as back pain lasting more than three months). Performing a control study in which 235 individuals were recruited and qualified as having chronic lower back pain, 123 received flexion distraction and the remaining 112 engaged in standard therapeutic exercises with trained physical therapists.1
Based on their findings, researchers concluded that participants who engaged in flexion distraction treatment via chiropractic care “had significantly greater relief from perceived pain” when compared to subjects who completed physical therapy. Thus, flexion distraction tables can be used by chiropractic professionals as part of an effective pain-relieving treatment plan.1
1Guadavalli MR, et al. “A randomized clinical trial and subgroup analysis to compare flexion-distraction with active exercise for chronic low back pain.” Eur Spine J. 2006:15(7);1070-1082.