Frequently Asked Questions


Who is the Director of SunCoast SpineCare?

Jay H. Schwartz, DC, DiBCN, DIBE is the Director of SunCoast SpineCare, which provides VAX-D. He is a chiropractic physician board certified in chiropractic, and is in the small group Board Certified in Chiropractic Neurology and Electrodiagnosis with over 30 years of experience in the field. Dr. Schwartz has researched many treatment methods for chronic back pain. He has found that VAX-D is an effective treatment, approved by the FDA, successful in over 70% of chronic cases as documented in multiple published peer review studies.

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What is VAX-D?

VAX-D (Vertebral Axial Decompression) is a revolutionary, non-invasive conservative treatment for patients who suffer from chronic low back pain, as well as leg pain, (sciatica) tingling and numbness caused by stenosis, herniated discs, bulging discs or degenerated discs and posterior facet syndrome. Patients who have had back surgery, yet continue to experience pain, may also be candidates for VAX-D. VAX-D is the only medical device that delivers treatment through its patented logarithmic decompression curve. The treatment is designed to relieve pressure on structures that may be causing lower back pain usually associated with bulging discs, stenosis or herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. VAX-D is safe, effective and does not involve the risks associated with surgery or injections also used to treat chronic back pain. Studies have proven that VAX-D reduces the pressure within the discs from a positive pressure to a negative pressure. (Average standing pressure on the discs is 200 mm. of mercury; With VAX-D, minus 180 mm. of mercury). This creates a vacuum-type effect on the disc and allows for a suctioning of the disc material back into its normal position. While back pain is usually treated with a combination of therapies, including medication, bed-rest, chiropractic care, physical therapy and exercise, many of these treatments only temporarily reduce symptoms. In contrast, VAX-D addresses the disc problem rather then just temporarily relieving the low back pain. A four year study showed that the majority of patients were still pain-free four years after completing the VAX-D regimen and 91% had returned to normal activities.

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Can you explain the VAX-D procedure?

The patient lies face down on the table and holds the hand grips; intermittent tension is applied through a pelvic belt. This decompresses the discs in the lumbar spine, lowering the pressures to minus 180 mm of mercury and thereby removing pressure from the disc and the nerves.

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How many sessions does it require?

Patients are treated consecutively for an average of 20-30 treatments. The patient's progress is evaluated weekly by the doctor. Some may require more frequent evaluations, depending upon their condition and response to treatment. The number of treatment sessions required depends upon the diagnosis and the overall severity of your condition. One treatment session is about 45 minutes long. Some difficult cases may require additional sessions. Relief from pain varies with each individual and their physiology. However, many patients will experience some pain relief within the first ten treatments.

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What is the cost of a VAX-D treatment?

VAX-D treatments are given in a series of 20-30 treatments. Your cost will depend upon your diagnosis, and on your payment arrangements. We do offer a consultation to determine whether VAX-D is right for you. We can provide treatment costs at that time.

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What will my insurance cover; I have "XX Insurance"?

Some insurance policies now cover VAX-D treatment. Bring in your insurance card and we will be glad to check your benefits for you. We do offer a consultation to determine whether VAX-D is right for you.

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How do I qualify for treatment?

Dr. Schwartz will evaluate your condition. If you have had X-rays, MRIs or CT scans please bring them with you.

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Is VAX-D traction?

No, it's a decompression procedure. VAX-D produces a vacuum like effect within the disc, while traction does not. It is the vacuum-like effect that results in the negative pressures created within the disc by VAX-D. Traction has never been proven to decompress the spine and discs. As a matter of fact, some researchers have stated that it can actually increase intraspinal pressure. Traction has been virtually abandoned over the past 50 years simply because it does not work.

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Is VAX-D experimental or investigational?

Most definitely No. TheFDA is the only agency that can make a decision whether a product ( device or drug) is experimental . No one else has that authority. Devices that have been registered by issuance of a 510(K) are not experimental and require no further investigation or testing as long as the use of said product is consistent with the official usage and/or indications. VAX-D was issued a 510 (K) in 1996. Therefore, it is not experimental or investigational.

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How effective is VAX-D?

A large 778 patient study was performed on VAX-D and published in April 1996 demonstrating a 71% success rate with patients suffering from uni-level to multiple levels of herniated and degenerated discs as well as extruded discs.

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How long has VAX-D been around?

VAX-D was in the development stage for about ten years. It was given full FDA approval for lumbar spinal decompression in 1996. Dr. Schwartz was one of the original providers of VAX-D.

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Does VAX-D treatment hurt?

No, in fact most people notice a reduction of pain during treatment.

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Does VAX-D have any risks associated with it?

No. VAX-D is very safe unlike most medications and surgery.

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Will I be able to continue working?

Patients are encouraged to remain at work during VAX-D treatments providing work activities do not aggravate their condition. A return to work assessment will be performed after 2 weeks of VAX-D treatments to assess the patient's ability to continue with or return to work.

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Are the effects of VAX-D permanent?

It depends on your definition of permanent. Since VAX-D has only been used for about 13 year in the US, we can't definitely state that the effects will last 30 years. However, a four year study showed that the majority of patients were still pain-free four years after completing the VAX-D regimen and 91% had returned to normal activities. In the medical world, four years is a very long time. Once a cancer patient is cancer-free for five years, he is considered cured by the medical community. As long as our VAX-D patients are careful and take their follow-up care and precautions seriously, they do very well in the long term.

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Can I have VAX-D treatments if I've had surgery?

Yes, providing they did not install hardware into your spine. If you do have hardware installed, you may still be a candidate for Cox Distraction.

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Can VAX-D help arthritis?

Yes, in many cases. Arthritis of the spine usually involves degenerated discs and stenosis, which respond well to VAX-D. The doctor can determine if you are a candidate for VAX-D.

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If VAX-D works so well, how come I haven't heard about it?

VAX-D is a relatively new medical procedure in the United States. The treatment has worked for thousands of patients, and over 3000 patients per day, worldwide, are now being treated. The awareness of VAX-D is growing every day, as physicians and healthcare providers learn about VAX-D and the phenomenal results it has achieved in numerous clinical studies. As a result, VAX-D is now becoming the standard of care for chronic low back pain.

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How is VAX-D different from the “decompression therapy” I see advertised?

Many patients and physicians have asked if VAX-D Treatment is any different than ‘traction’. The emergence and success of VAX-D Therapy has spawned a host of new medical devices (copycats) all claiming to be the same as VAX-D in their principles of operation and in their success rates. This has created a lot of confusion and questions about their similarities and effectiveness. Many doctors with simple traction devices are advertising them as “decompression”. Although traction devices can stretch the lower back, they have not demonstrated the ability to decompress the lumbar discs and spinal nerves. It is mind boggling that these providers can make these claims which cannot be backed up through legitimate research published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Some of those copycat manufacturers and providers have the 'nerve' to quote research performed on VAX-D as their own.

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What about the research I see for those other “decompression devices”?

Isn’t it interesting that VAX-D research is found on traction table websites? In other words they are touting the success of VAX-D and falsely giving the impression that traction is equal to VAX-D, but it certainly is not. This is similar to a car manufacturer advertising that their Model A car goes 200 miles per hour simply because Model X car goes that fast. They both have an engine and 4 tires so they must be identical.

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Don't those devices have their own research?

Providers of those treatments are making bogus claims and are falsely advertising that they “decompress” the lumbar spine and discs when they have no peer-reviewed published clinical studies to substantiate their claims. Some have implied that NASA scientists discovered decompression, which is unfounded. These devices claim to utilize newer ‘state of the art technology’ equivalent or superior to VAX–D. They claim to have equal or greater success rates than VAX-D (as high as 86%) with less complications, and at lower fees. Upon further investigation, you will find that these statements are just not true. In fact, virtually all of the VAX-D imitators are using linear traction technology. This means an electric motor and winch and cable mounted in a column or attached to the end of a table on a bracket. These devices are actually using traction technology that emerged prior to 1986 packaged into what seems like high tech computerized equipment. Several state licensing boards have taken disciplinary action against providers of these imitation treatments.

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So what should I do now?

Today’s healthcare market is full of super-salesmen with new promotional campaigns that utilize scientific references. Unfortunately what “sells” is not the quality of the product, but the ability of the marketers to influence their audience. Even when they realize their treatment method is unproven, they attempt to minimize this by mentioning that it has been proven to the satisfaction of the FDA or one of the recognized medical societies. The best way to avoid being taken in is to do your homework when considering new treatments, and this includes ours. Ask for copies of all of the published research on the treatment including clinical and patient-relevant outcomes. Make sure they substantiate their claims of therapeutic value.

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