Back Pain

Reporter: Belinda Wilkinson

Back pain - crippling, exhausting. From a slight ache to severe agony, few medicines or therapies give adequate relief. But now a new WA invention's proven to be a success. "Basically it's fixed my spine; it's the one thing that I've ever used that's fixed my back." James Childs had a surfing accident when he was fourteen which damaged his lower spine.

He was one of forty two patients to trial the Nubax device through the University of WA. "James, were you a bit sceptical at first that this was going to work? Very, I've tried so many different things to get it fixed, nothing's ever give it consistent results until this"

In just three weeks, James was already feeling results. At the start his pain was strong and constant but after just six minutes each day, the change was dramatic. "By the end of the trial I was probably 90% pain free, when the trial finished I got one for myself, I continued using it for another 6-8 weeks after that, by the end of that I was totally pain free with no worries."

All it takes is three minutes when you wake up, and three minutes before you go to bed. Professor Tim Ackland from the University of WA supervised the trial. "The idea behind the device is that it uses body weight to provide tension stress on the lumbar and thoracic spine, and this provides a distraction for the vertebrae a bit like hanging upside down from the monkey bars, gravity will tend to pull the spine apart."

Traction of the spine was big in the early fifties, but its popularity faded. "I suppose it went out of favour because there wasn't the devices around to test whether the traction was working or not, nowadays with medical imaging devices we can 17.59 18.05 see whether the device is actually having an effect or not. "

Alison Scott from the WA Chiropractic Association says although they'd like to see more trials, they're keen to test Nubax for themselves. "We as an association do support self care strategies our focus is to enable our patients to do as much for themselves as they possibly can to get healthy and if this proves to be something that can do that then that's fantastic."

Nubax costs $495, some private health insurers allow you to claim some of that back. Or the cheaper option... hire one from your local physio for a week. James says "Compared to paying for physio or chiro once a week, I was going to chiro 3 times a week at one stage, so if you add up the bills over a 6 to 12 month period you cover one of these devices quite easily." But a word of warning. Alison says "the spine can have so many different problems that someone choosing without any guidance whatsoever on their on self car strategy probably isn't the best thing for them." So check with a health professional to see if it will suit your condition before you race out and buy one.

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