Treating Back Pain with the Cox Technique

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Few of us manage to avoid back pain entirely. If you’ve been experiencing painful sciatica, a back strain or sprain, or other occasional or increasing periods of pain located in the back, or radiating from the back to affect the neck, legs or arms, you’ll know just how much it can interfere with work, sleep, and your ability to enjoy life. If this description matches your back pain symptoms, you may be a good candidate for a chiropractic treatment known as the Cox Technique.

Cox Technique

The Cox Technique is one of the most effective treatments used by professional chiropractors and is backed up by extensive clinical research including the use of large scale patient studies and randomized control trials. The evidence shows that subsequent physician visits are reduced for back pain patients treated using the Cox Technique, and that is it more effective at reducing back pain for one year than physical therapy. Overall, in a study of 1,000 patients, 91% of patients reported significant improvement in their pain within 90 days.

The technique was invented by Dr. James M. Cox who also invented a special type of chiropractic table to use with the technique. You may even hear the method described as the Cox Flexion Distraction Technique.

How the Cox Technique works

Cox technique chiropractors base their treatment on a combination of principles drawn from both chiropractics and osteopathy. The objective of the treatment is to decompress the spine to help it heal naturally. This is achieved by gently stretching the lower spinal area and slightly separating the spinal components to increase the distance between the vertebrae, widen the spinal canal, reduce pressure on the spinal nerves, and realign the joints of the spine. These changes reduce pain and improve the range of motion.

Conditions which benefit from the Cox Technique

If you’re suffering from sciatica or occasional pain in the lower back, legs, neck, or arms related to compression in the spine or a back strain or sprain, the Cox Technique can offer rapid relief without the need for surgery or medications. The technique has also been shown to be effective in reducing the pain associated with slipped, herniated, or ruptured discs, lumbar facet syndrome, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, transitional vertebra, sacroiliac subluxation, and spinal stenosis. Outcomes for many of these types of conditions show that the Cox Technique treatment is only slightly less effective than surgery. The treatment is also sometimes used for patients who are in recovery from previous spinal surgery and has been shown to be effective in cases of “Failed Back Surgical Syndrome” – patients whose back pain was not improved by surgery or which returned soon afterwards.

What to expect at your chiropractic sessions

Depending upon the condition, patients are usually treated two or three times per week for approximately 3-6 weeks. X-rays and MRI imaging may be ordered to help your chiropractor to understand and visualize the issues to be treated. At each visit you’ll lie on a special chiropractic table that is made up of several different cushioned sections. Underneath the table will be some bulky mechanics that are designed to move the sections of the table independently from each other. Your chiropractor will use their hands to apply gentle pressure. At the same time they will move sections of the table apart to deliver controlled traction and stretch. All movements are slow and repetitive, and the treatment is usually pain-free and even relaxing.

Other forms of treatment that may be offered alongside the Cox Technique include electrical stimulation; heat and ice therapy, massage therapy, trigger point therapy, and exercise.
You can see Dr. Cox demonstrating the technique and his chiropractic table in this video.

What to expect after the treatment

Research shows that application of the Cox Technique is effective at alleviating back pain symptoms over the longer term. However, although pain symptoms can be relieved, sometimes for many years, degenerative conditions of the spine and weaknesses such as a slipped disc are not cured by the technique, merely controlled. Learning good posture, adopting correct lifting techniques, and following exercise and nutrition guidelines will all help to reduce the likelihood of the original pain reoccurring.