Spinal Unloading Devices for the Treatment of Low Back Pain
The goal of traction is to separate the space between vertebral bodies to unload the spine and decompress discs, alleviate pain and support healing. Self-operated devices for lumbar spinal unloading are available for use at home and include pneumatic systems (e.g., Orthotrac Pneumatic Vest™, STx™ Saunders Lumbar Traction Device, Saunders Lumbar Hometrac™ Deluxe) and gravity-dependent devices (e.g., LTX 3000™). These devices have been investigated as conservative, non-invasive treatment options for subacute and chronic low back pain for individuals who have not responded adequately to standard medical therapy.
Spinal unloading devices for the treatment of low back pain are considered investigational.
Any specific products referenced in this policy are just examples and are intended for illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to be a recommendation of one product over another, and is not intended to represent a complete listing of all products available. These examples are contained in the parenthetical e.g. statement.
We develop Medical Policies to provide guidance to Members and Providers. This Medical Policy relates only to the services or supplies described in it. The existence of a Medical Policy is not an authorization, certification, explanation of benefits or a contract for the service (or supply) that is referenced in the Medical Policy. For a determination of the benefits that a Member is entitled to receive under his or her health plan, the Member's health plan must be reviewed. If there is a conflict between the Medical Policy and a health plan, the express terms of the health plan will govern.
There is insufficient evidence from peer-reviewed published studies to conclude that axial spinal unloading devices are more effective than standard interventions in the management of low back pain.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2016, November). Noninvasive treatments for low back pain: current state of the evidence. Retrieved April 26, 2019 from https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/.
American College of Physicians. (2017). Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Retrieved July 21, 2017 from http://annals.org/aim/article/2603228/noninvasive-treatments-acute-subacute-chronic-low-back-pain-clinical-practice.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2016, November; last update search December 2020). Low back pain and sciatica in over 16s: assessment and management. Retrieved January 14, 2021 from www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng59.
North American Spine Society. (2020). Evidence-based clinical guidelines for multidisciplinary spine care. Diagnosis and treatment of degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis. Retrieved January 14, 2021 from www.spine.org.
U. S. Food and Drug Administration. (2008, April). Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Code of Federal Regulations: Title 21: Volume 8: 21CFR888.5850: Part 888 Orthopedic Devices: Section 888.5850. Nonpowered orthopedic traction apparatus and accessories. Retrieved February 9, 2009 from http://frwebgate6.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/PDFgate.cgi?WAISdocID=213296488427+1+2+0&WAISection=retrieve.
ORIGINAL EFFECTIVE DATE: 7/1/2002
MOST RECENT REVIEW DATE: 3/11/2021
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