My back gave out and I dropped to my knees in excruciating pain! I sought help from two different prominent back specialists in town. One was a neurosurgeon and the other was an orthopedic surgeon. The MRI and X-rays ensued and I was preparing my mind for surgery. I was almost begging for surgery.
The first specialist never saw me face to face. He had his nurse inform me that he did not see a problem that he could repair surgically. She gave me prescriptions for pills and physical therapy.
The second specialist I saw reviewed the images with me. He drew diagrams on my images and pointed out bulges in my lower two spinal discs. The surgeon went on to explain that he could perform surgery and I had about a 60% chance of pain relief. He said that he would go in the front of my body moving organs to the side and apply a putty type substance to my lower spine that would harden and fuse my spine together. The surgeon then told me my insurance no longer covered this procedure. I asked if he would recommend I have this procedure and he said no he would not. He wrote prescriptions for pills and physical therapy. I told him to keep the pills. I know that is an unsustainable option.
The next several weeks I drove across town on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 30 minute physical therapy sessions. I rolled on a mat. I did "wood chopping" exercises on the universal gym. I did core strengthening exercises. I walked backwards on a treadmill and I had traction. If it had not been for physical therapy I would not have learned about traction.
I can honestly say that traction, also known as spinal decompression, saved my life! The therapist strapped me into the traction machine on my second visit. It took two people to strap the top half and bottom half of my body to a table with a hook on the bottom harness that connected to a computerized winch. The therapist entered a number on the keypad of the control unit that corresponded to the amount of force the machine was going to pull and then walked away. The amount of pulling force that she programmed was not near enough to be therapeutic. The next visit I asked for more pulling force and it was way too much! It was uncomfortable to the point I almost triggered the emergency stop, but after the 20 minute session my back felt better than it had in a long time! From then on I asked for traction 20 minutes out of the 30 I had in therapy.
Each visit we worked together to dial in the perfect amount of force for my back. The perfect amount was one that bordered on discomfort but not pain. I could feel my lower back stretch and once the amount of pulling force was perfect it felt very pleasurable to have my lower spine stretched. It was more pleasurable and effective than deep tissue massage. I was sore for about a day after the first few sessions but not so much after that. Until then my spine had been compressed and tissue was being stretched that had never been stretched before so a little soreness was understandable. The throbbing pain had disappeared from my lower back. The sharp pain in my buttock had disappeared.
After 7 traction sessions my pain was gone and they said my therapy was over. It took about three weeks for the pain to return.
I attempted to alleviate the recurring pain in my back by wrapping a ratchet strap around my ankles and hooking it to a 1/2 ton hoist in my garage to lift myself upside down in an attempt to stretch my spine as the traction machine in physical therapy did. This turned out to be very painful on my ankles and when the blood pooled in my head I got a terrible three day migraine headache. This experience eliminated the inversion table as an option for me for ongoing pain management. Also, less than my total body weight was not near enough for the pulling force needed for long term relief. The search began for the perfect home traction machine.
I researched home traction machines. I found one that resembled a weight bench where you strap yourself in and someone else loads approximately 200 pounds of weight on the foot end. It would not work for me to rely on someone else to help me every time I needed traction. Next was the traction device resembling a suitcase with a hand pump. This one had promise but it did not take long to see it was not going to work for me. It did not create anywhere near the pull that I needed for therapeutic relief. It was also made of plastic with a lot of parts which meant inevitable breakage and frustration. I was tired of spending money on things that broke soon after purchasing.
I researched equipment made for professional healthcare providers in the $6,000-$12,000 range. As I continued my search I realized that anything available for purchase, regardless of price, had the same drawbacks. Mainly they were either cheaply made and would never provide the amount of pulling force needed or they were not self operated. Most of the ones made for healthcare providers have a computerized winch that I knew would eventually malfunction or need repair at a high cost one day and they cannot be self operated since you cannot reach the control panel while you are strapped to the table. I found that the traction machines healthcare providers use for patients with back pain have significant drawbacks. They require a technician or therapist to input numbers corresponding to pounds of force they think are right for your back. Everyone's back is unique with different tolerances for pain. If the pull is too much it causes you to automatically tense your back muscles in a self-preservation reaction to avoid perceived damage. This seemed to me to defeat the purpose and caused needless soreness. If the force is set too low you will waste your time and money because there will not be enough force to be therapeutic.
My research yielded no good results for a self-operated machine that would provide the preferred personalized pulling force. Not one!
I realized I would have to build my own. That's how LumbarTrac™ was created. Out of sheer necessity. I wanted something I could make small adjustments to and maximize the therapeutic effects.
You strap yourself in, you turn the handles, and you are in complete control of your "pull". LumbarTrac™ enables the finest of adjustments to find the perfect amount of pull for your back. You can confidently relax every muscle in your back to enable the most efficient "pull" knowing there is no possibility of uncomfortable loading or unloading of tension force on your back.
It was only a few short years ago when my chronic back pain was so bad I had a hard time finding reasons to get out of bed. It was out of necessity that I found a way to manage my pain and I am so glad to be able to say that back pain is no longer a factor in my life.
I now understand frequent traction/spinal decompression can do the same for the tens of millions of people who are suffering just like I was. The problem I found was that the spinal decompression devices made for consumer use are too cheaply made to be therapeutic and the ones made for healthcare providers require trained technicians to operate which has made simple spinal decompression cost-prohibitive for most people to have as frequently as needed for long term pain relief.
Please feel free to call me anytime with any questions or concerns.