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

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This article was produced by FairWarning (www.fairwarning.org), a nonprofit news organization based in Southern California that focuses on public health, consumer, labor and environmental issues. You can sign up for its newsletter here.Desperate to relieve their suffering, people with chronic back pain who comb the internet looking for help sometimes stumble upon a device called the DRX9000.It’s a mechanical table attached to Space Age-looking 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.One Pennsylvania woman wrote on the DRX9000 Facebook page that she could barely stand long enough to take a shower or wash dishes because of bulging and torn disks.“I suffer everyday and I’m disabled because of it,” she wrote. “What should I do?”On Facebook and its website, the company behind the DRX9000, Excite Medical, offers compelling answers. Nearly 9 out of 10 patients who qualify for treatment on the DRX9000 will get relief, the company says. And it claims that researchers affiliated with prestigious institutions, including Stanford, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, have done studies that “demonstrated” or “documented” its effectiveness. …

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