Spinal Decompression for Back Pain, Herniated and Degenerative Lumbar Discs

Non-surgical spinal decompression was introduced to Minnesota by Team Health Care Clinic years ago.  Since then, we have continued to successfully perform this treatment protocol for people with back pain with Vertebral Axial Decompression (VAX-D).  In our clinic alone, there have been hundreds of patients that were spared surgery by completing VAX-D services.

Since that time we have seen many clinics come and go claiming they have spinal decompression services.  It was the “wild west” with even simple traction units being touted as spinal decompression. But what is spinal decompression and how is better or different than simple traction?

Spinal Decompression Reduces Pressure on Lumbar Discs

When it comes to spinal decompression, it’s all about the pressure reduction achieved. Much like gauging the air pressure in a car tire, scientists have been able to measure the pressure on a disc in various positions. What they found is as follows:

Vax-D spinal decompression achieves negative pressure on the disc.

Notice that traction does not create a negative pressure on the disc. In other words, traction in the form of inversion tables, intersegmental traction units and many other devices claiming to be spinal decompression, are creating pressure reductions similar to lying down.  No negative pressure means no suction effect and that means little chance of decompressing degenerative and herniated discs.

VAX-D is Superior to Others

Non-surgical spinal decompression uses a machine that is proven to create a negative pressure on lumbar discs. There are few, if any, other thank VAX-D.  Beware —  many will claim they have research that proves negative pressure is achieved. However, when pressed to see the research, a few different schemes are discovered to overstate the research.

One technique is to use VAX-D research as their own.  They will show the research only when pressed for it and explain that the copycat device is similar to VAX-D so they claim it as their own.

A second approach is to do research on cadavers.  Other than the fact that any positive effect from decompression is too late for these subjects, there are obvious flaws in drawing any conclusions from this research.

Our bodies have receptors that create a stretch reflex when a force is applied to it.  For example, if someone is pulling your leg to stretch your hamstring, at some point your muscle will resist the force to avoid injury.  In cadavers, this reflex is absent so the researches can apply any distractive force and find erroneous positive results.  Don’t be fooled by this scheme.

Be an educated consumer and ask questions before agreeing to proceed with your doctor’s recommendation for non-surgical decompression.  Determine how they define “decompression” and ask for research to support their claims.

Finally, investigate its track record and its success rate.  Look past splashy marketing and grand claims. Five years ago, the Twin Cities metro was saturated with full page ads for decompression services. Almost 100% of those marketing campaigns were not able to stand the test of time and are now noticeably absent.

Consider VAX-D for non-surgical spinal decompression.  It is well researched, has a greater than 15-year track record, and is 80% successful in patients that had failed all conservative treatments.  It also has research that confirms it creates negative pressure on the discs of live subjects.

Is it Right for Me?

VAX-D has been a proven “positive negative” for hundreds of our patients. If you have been diagnosed with a lumbar disc degeneration or herniation, consult your provider to determine if VAX-D is right for you.

Joe Bertsch, DC

Joe Bertsch, DC

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): Not just for joint pain

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has been popular for treating joint pain, but there are other conditions that we treat with PRP at Team Health Care Clinic. After we saw how effective PRP could be for our patients with knee pain, tennis elbow, arthritis and other joint pain, our medical team decided to explore some of the lesser known uses for PRP. Research has shown that PRP can be used for conditions such as dry eyes, chronic sinus congestion, and acne. In today’s blog, we take a look at how PRP can help people suffering with these conditions.

What is PRP?

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a regenerative medicine derived from your own blood. It is obtained by drawing your blood and spinning it in a special device to separate the plasma from the red blood cells. By separating it in this way we can get concentrated levels of your own platelets, growth factors and other ingredients which stimulate a healing process. We then take all those concentrated ingredients and use them to supercharge your healing ability.

What are some of the lesser-known conditions that can be treated with PRP?

PRP is an all-natural treatment option for people who suffer from dry eye syndrome, chronic sinusitis, and acne.

Dry EyesDry eye syndrome: The PRP is mixed with normal saline to create a pH similar to that of natural tears. It is put in eye drop bottles and can be instilled into the eyes 3-4 times per day. The most common side effect is some minor burning to the eyes right after the eye drops have been instilled. It also feels cold when applied because it needs to be kept refrigerated. Some patients have shared that it feels soothing and moisturizing when applied. My patients who have been using PRP eye drops have noticed a reduction in their dry eye symptoms, less eye irritation, and have been without symptoms for longer periods of time.

Chronic sinus congestion: A PRP nasal spray can be made by mixing the PRP with normal saline and put in a nasal spray bottle that can be sent home with you. It can be used 2-4 times per day. If you suffer from chronic sinus congestion and frequent sinus infections then this could be the treatment for you. Patients who have used the PRP nasal spray have shared their surprise at the reduction in congestion just shortly after starting the treatment.

Acne: PRP used for acne is not mixed with anything. It is just the plasma itself, sent home in syringes for you to apply topically to the affected sites. It is applied at night before you go to bed, then washed off in the morning. Topical PRP for acne should remain on your skin for at least 8 hours. There are not any risks to this treatment. People who have used this treatment for their acne have reported a reduction in open and closed acne lesions and a reduction in redness within the first few weeks of treatment.

How it is stored

The PRP only maintains its effectiveness if kept refrigerated or frozen. It lasts for 1 week in the refrigerator and 3 months in the freezer. Each week you will use a new container of PRP for your treatment. When you choose to use PRP to treat your dry eye syndrome, chronic sinus congestion, or acne, you will be sent home with a 12 week supply.

PRP is a perfect fit for the Team Health Care Clinic wellness model and philosophy. It is 100% natural using each patient’s own healing properties. To find out if PRP is right for you, contact us to set up your consultation with one of our medical providers.


Tiffany Watson, CNP

Tiffany Watson, CNP

Is My Brain Degenerating?

People often ask me, “How do I know if my brain is degenerating?” At Team Health Care Clinic, we take the health of the brain as seriously, if not more, than any other aspect of the body and of one’s health. In many areas of our body, pain will help indicate when something is wrong. Pain is not the primary means of how the brain exhibits dysfunction and thus it shows up in other ways. Common signs of brain degeneration include depression or fatigue as a result of brain-related activity, such as reading or driving. Even when these signs aren’t apparent, degeneration may still be occurring.

Having a better understanding of what each part of the brain does leads to a better understanding of what degeneration of that area may look like.

Where does brain degeneration occur?

Let’s review the two most common regions that we see degeneration in the brain occurring in our practice.

Frontal Lobe

The frontal lobe sits behind the forehead and is the largest lobe of the brain. This area of the brain is what separates humans from other animals, as it gives us personality. It allows us to suppress impulses such as violent tendencies and socially unacceptable behavior, and provides emotional drive, planning, and motivation. It is also the area that is developmentally delayed in those with ADD/ADHD. When this area becomes impaired due to degenerative changes, depression, laziness, inability to control impulses, poor judgment and social behavior, and mental sluggishness may arise.


The cerebellum is the “little brain” that sits off of the back end of the brain under the base of the skull. When it comes to the function of the cerebellum it’s easiest to think of a DUI test that a police officer may perform, as alcohol suppresses the cerebellum. The test entails looking at balance, coordination, and spatial awareness. The cerebellum receives information from eyes, muscles, and the inner ears to calibrate proper movements, and allowing us to know where we are in space. Do you struggle with frequent episodes of dizziness or vertigo? Have poor balance? Easily carsick? Or have subtle shakes at the end of hand or finger movements? These may be early signs that your cerebellum is degenerating.

Identifying early signs of brain degeneration

It is crucial that your medical provider can look for and identify these early signs of an aging brain. In our medical system, most physicians aren’t trained on how to identify and manage early stages of brain degeneration until it has progressed beyond the point of return. For example, Parkinson’s disease often isn’t identified until someone has a resting tremor. In contrast,  chronic constipation, loss of smell, or slowness of movement may be an early sign of the disease. By the time symptoms such as a tremor are present, the disease has progressed enough that little can be done functionally to address the severity of the condition and focus changes to prevention of further progression. This is why being aware of the early warning signs of brain degeneration is critical.

Here at Team Health Care Clinic, we utilize in depth neurological exams, Interactive Metronome, BTrackS Balance Plate assessments, lab tests, and at times Neurofeedback as part of our neurological work ups to assess the brain health of our patients. If you or anyone you know may be suffering from the changes mentioned in this blog, don’t wait! Call our office today for a free consultation.

Erik Starr, DC