Cox® Technic
a discussion place for spinal pain management with Cox® Technic

Blog #6 - What Is Cox® Flexion Distraction Decompression Spinal Manipulation?

March 9, 2016 07:16 by jamesmcoxdcdacbr

Cox Technic Flexion Distraction Decompression Spinal Manipulation is evidence-based spinal care, a form of spinal manipulation in which the human spine is placed in distraction (a type of measured controlled traction of the spine) delivered on a specialized spinal manipulation instrument. The Cox Table is the well-designed instrument of choice.

Five specific changes in spine mechanics occur in the intervertebral disc and nerve openings with this procedure (1):

  1. The height of the intervertebral disc is increased.
  2. The size of the nerve opening which is called the intervertebral foramen is increased up to 28% in area.
  3. The pressure within the intervertebral disc which is created by the fluid within the disc is reduced from a positive pressure to a negative pressure gradient. This aids in dropping the pressure on the pain sensitive nerves within the disc and the pressure on the nerve which lies behind the disc which causes sciatic or leg pain when compressed over 20 mm of mercury pressure.
  4. The movements of the spine are restored. A specific spinal vertebral level (consisting of the intervertebral disc and the moveable joints lying behind the disc) is placing into its normal physiological ranges of motion. Remember that loss of spinal mobility is a part of back pain whether it be acute or chronic. Restoring normal spinal mobility offers improved activities of daily living and diminishing spinal stress that causes back pain.
  5. Nervous system tracts of nerves from the spine to the human brain are stimulated when spinal manipulation is administered. These nerve tracts respond to touch, motion, temperature, and pressure to initiate nerve reflexes that relieve pain and allow for normal spinal motion. Such nerve tracts can also affect balance and equilibrium that are so often affected with spinal pain.

The goal of Cox® distraction spinal manipulation is summarized as follows: Attain and maintain physiological range of spine motion with the greatest relief of pain. It is also vital to note that some spinal conditions are not cured, that is to say all the pain is relieved and the person can do any activity without pain recurrence. NO, some spinal conditions that are congenital (born with) or acquired from injury or degenerative spine changes are controlled not cured. In such cases it is important that the patient follow the training given by the chiropractor concerning proper ergonomics (how to move, bend, lift, twist the spine) to avoid pain, perform the specific exercise program developed for your spine condition, and in many cases have dedicated times for undergoing Cox® distraction spinal manipulation so as to maintain relief. Cox Flexion Distraction may well be a beneficial alternative to back surgery for back pain patients.

Respectively submitted,

James M. Cox, DC, DACBR


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What Are Patient’s Treatment Options For Back And Extremity Pain And Disability?

January 26, 2016 16:55 by jamesmcoxdcdacbr

patient consultation about back pain conditions and chiropractic relief optionsThis inaugural blog on the mechanism, diagnosis and treatment of spine and radicular pain appropriately opens with discussion of the most important element of spine care in the United States and the world for that matter – THE PATIENT.

Do you ever empathize with a person in spine pain who is seeking care – the stressful decisions to be made with sometimes with little knowledge of the problem? Can you blame him or her? Fact-filled alternatives are missing for such hard decisions. Just consider the following truths about spine care today.


Surgery yields varying feelings and opinions by patients and for good reason. Consider the following scientific papers on surgeons’ disagreement on spine surgery. The better trained the surgeon the less spine surgery is performed. More surgery is done by private clinics and 4 times less in academic and teaching institutions. (1) Degenerative lumbar scoliosis has variability in both non-operative and operative management. The appropriateness of surgery and specific surgical procedures have not been defined for this important pathology of the aging spine. (2) Such statistics support the patient’s plight in treatment decision making.


Patients seeking chiropractic care are known to be intelligent seekers of their best care. In a study of non-Hispanic black patients who went to chiropractors, they tended to be female, be older, be college educated, be employed, and have a positive viewpoint on their interactions with their chiropractor. (3) Other studies have documented this as well. So successful is spinal manipulation that physical therapists now practice all forms of chiropractic manipulation from high velocity to Cox® Technic flexion distraction and publish peer reviewed papers on it. In Germany, study of manual therapy by general medical doctors for nonspecific low back pain benefits is to be conducted. (4)


Cox® Technic flexion distraction and decompression spinal manipulation is a popular and growing form of spine care for people suffering from disc degeneration, disc herniation and spinal stenosis that cause leg pain called sciatica and arm pain and other spinal conditions such as spondylolisthesis, transitional segments, scoliosis, facet disease, pregnancy, spondylolysis, osteoporosis, arthritis, and so many more diagnoses.

Spinal mobilizations - low velocity passive oscillatory movements such as Cox® flexion distraction decompression spinal manipulation - are reported to reduce spinal pain in some patient subgroups by an endogenous pain inhibition system mediated by the central nervous system. Cox® flexion distraction low velocity low amplitude spinal manipulation shows short-term, remote antinociceptive effect similar to clinical findings in a rat study. (5,6) This author financed the building of a Cox® spinal manipulation instrument that is 1/12 the size of a regular Cox® manipulation instrument. It was built at the University of Iowa with input from Ram Gudavalli, PhD, and is used for rat experimentation as described here. Quite exciting to see how many years of study and research can lead to new approaches.


Favorable outcomes of back pain and radiculopathy are attained in the vast majority of patients under non-operative care. Surgical intervention is reserved for patients who have significant pain that is refractory, non-responsive to at least 6 weeks of conservative care. This author finds this window of time adequate to reverse back and extremity pain in the majority of cases with Cox® Technic Flexion Distraction and Decompression spinal manipulation. Patients who have a severe or progressive motor deficit, or patients who have any symptoms of bowel or bladder dysfunction are surgical candidates but this occurs in a small minority of cases, less than 1% with the condition called cauda equina syndrome. (7)

The Bone And Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force On Neck Pain and its associated disorders searched 5 databases from 2000 to 2014 finding 8551 citations for study. New evidence suggests that mobilization, manipulation, and clinical massage are effective interventions for the management of neck pain. It also suggests that electroacupuncture, strain-counterstrain, relaxation massage, and some passive physical modalities (heat, cold, diathermy, hydrotherapy, ultrasound) are not effective and should not be used to manage neck pain. (8)


Chronic low back pain is known to cause anxiety and depression for the patient. Can you blame them? Suffering without relief will make anyone anxious. The complex, bidirectional correlation between chronic low back pain and generalized anxiety disorder, common in primary care, can increase the risk of inadequate treatment. (9) Chronic low back pain participants have lower working memory performance and higher pain catastrophizing  compared to pain-free controls.  (10) This author finds patient confidence and understanding of their condition reduces depression; some patients state their relief to now just understand their condition as it had not been explained to them by any prior healthcare consultant, doctor or surgeon in an understandable language.


Classic side posture high velocity low amplitude spinal manipulation was compared to Cox® flexion distraction non thrust spinal manipulation in a study of 192 participants, mean age 40 years, 54% male with subacute and chronic low back pain. Similar effects in short-term low back pain improvement for both were superior to a wait list control. (11) This author notes the mean age of the 192 patients was 40, and Cox states that the older the patient the more reliable is flexion distraction decompression spinal manipulation due to degenerative spine disease and inability of the patient to tolerate high velocity thrust adjustment. Also no radicular patients were part of this study and radicular patients, show Cox® flexion distraction decompression non thrust adjusting has great superiority because side posture thrust adjusting is not well tolerated and is shown to aggravate disc herniation and spinal stenosis. Here is seen the erudite decision making of the chiropractor in determining spinal manipulation use and application. (11)


Lastly, evidence based clinical practice is three entities:

  1. research
  2. clinical expertise
  3. patient satisfaction and preference.

Chiropractic must persist in the research for documentation of its contribution to the epidemic problem of spine pain. Dissemination of this research to the chiropractic field doctor is an absolute necessity so he or she can implement the principles taught. Patient satisfaction with chiropractic research and clinical superiority will maintain the leadership role for chiropractic in spine care management.

Cox® Technic flexion distraction and decompression spinal manipulation has published scientific papers on the biomechanics and clinical outcomes of the technic for spine and radicular pain. Standards of care for cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine spinal manipulation are published as well as tutorials in the application of the flexion distraction and decompression technic. For full study of the work, go to the website There you will find copies of the research papers, descriptions of Protocol I and II applications of the technic, clinical outcome studies, and case presentations of spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis, intervertebral disc herniation, spondylolisthesis, Bertolotti’s syndrome, facet syndrome, synovial cyst, Tarlov cyst, scoliosis, and subluxation. Cox Technic Complete® program websites like this one more fully go into the examination, physical, orthopedic, neurological and diagnostic imaging of spine pain patients which are shown in video for patients to study and then arrange care with the physician. These studies are designed to lead to the most prudent diagnosis of the patient’s condition. Study opportunities with Dr. Cox and other certified chiropractors for those interested in the procedures are given. Certification following 32 hours of hands on and didactic study is available for international referral directory opportunities.

Clinical validity of Cox® Technic is shown in the just published Clinical Practice Guideline: Chiropractic Care for Low Back Pain in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics published online January 19, 2016. (12)  It shares that “currently, the most robust literature regarding manual therapy for low back pain is based primarily on high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) techniques, and mobilization (such as flexion-distraction) therefore, in the absence of contraindications, these methods are generally recommended.” (12) This validation of Cox® flexion distraction decompression spinal manipulation is necessary for developing chiropractic’s role in spine treatment.

It is the leadership of superior spinal manipulation that will ultimately draw the public’s acceptance. It is my opinion that our path of research, clinical application and patient preference is large in the future of expanded chiropractic medicine.

Thank you for studying with me.

Respectfully submitted,

James M. Cox, DC, DACBR, FICC, Hon.D.Litt., FACO(H)


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