Patients pay thousands for back pain treatment — with little scientific evidence that it works

It’s a device called the DRX9000. It’s a mechanical table attached to controls that its manufacturer claims can stretch the disks of the vertebrae, allowing bulges and herniations to be pulled back into place and taking pressure off nerve roots.

On Facebook and its website, the company behind the DRX9000, Excite Medical, claims nearly 9 out of 10 patients who qualify for treatment on the DRX9000 will get relief. And it claims that researchers affiliated with prestigious institutions, including Stanford, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, have done studies that “demonstrated” or “documented” the table’s effectiveness.

The DRX9000 is one of more than a dozen “spinal decompression” devices that for three decades have offered back patients the prospect of relief. Chiropractors across the United States buy the machines from Excite Medical and the makers of several similar brands and market the treatment, often using the same claims as the manufacturers and sometimes even going beyond them.

But a FairWarning investigation — based on review of lawsuits, scientific studies, government documents, chiropractic websites and interviews with experts — found that the claims of success for spinal decompression stretch the truth, enticing patients to pay thousands of dollars for a treatment that has never been proven in scientifically rigorous studies.

Spinal decompression treatment is often advertised as a safe alternative to surgery. But several lawsuits and FDA documents show that patients have alleged serious injuries from these devices.

The attorneys at Finkelstein, Blankinship, Frei-Pearson & Garber, LLP have successfully brought lawsuits on behalf of consumers aggrieved by such deceptive claims and are investigating the possibility that Excite Medical engaged in such practices. If you or someone you know has received the DRX9000 treatment based on their marketing materials, please contact us today.