Bank Repo Spinal Decompression Table Blowout

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Has the sky finally fallen on the spinal decompression market? The title of this article “Bank Repo Spinal Decompression Table Blowout” was exactly the headlines seen in my e-mail spam inbox this morning. Somebody’s looking to move some spinal decompression units and I imagine banks don’t want to get stuck with worthless outdated inventory. What’s this mean for the chiropractic industry? Is the sheriff coming to change the locks on US chiropractic offices? Much of that depends on the chiropractor.

computerized spinal decompression unit for low back pain(photo: a digital spinal decompression unit with touchscreen computer and patient monitoring system)

It was only a couple of years ago when my office was flooded near daily with advertisements for spinal decompression, cervical decompression, and lumbar disc herniation non-surgical spinal devices. While chiropractors have been offering various forms of “spinal decompression” for many decades now, those manufacturing new devices (as well as those putting on seminars), engaged in a heavy-duty marketing campaign to move them into the pipeline, and have old equipment replaced with new computerized technology.

I’ve saved many of the flyers I was sent, which included round-trip airfare and hotel for me and my spouse to go to places like Hawaii, the Bahamas and other destinations. All I had to do was show interest in the product (with some units ranging near $100,000 each) and I could get my trip. While I did not attend any of the sales education events, I’m assuming that financing for this kind of equipment was likely made as easy as it was to get a home loan around the same time. No worries that you had $200,000 plus in student loan debt, no worries that you hadn’t yet paid off the last gadgets you bought (or the build out on your practice), no worries that you hadn’t yet built up a patient base to utilize the services. The Flyers, e-mails, and telemarketing phone calls all promised visions of multimillion dollar practices by promoting and delivering nonsurgical spinal decompression services to the community.

Here’s the reality, I know several chiropractors personally that have built monster practices utilizing spinal decompression therapy. Some have gone with the latest computerized digital spinal decompression units, and some have just changed their marketing techniques and language in describing services such as Cox flexion distraction, Leander, and other chiropractic techniques that focus on spinal disc issues. There’s no denying that chiropractors can earn a hefty profit in providing services like these to their community. There is also reports that it works. While I’ve had a few new patients that felt they were duped into spinal decompression services that they felt offered no significant improvement, I’ve heard (mostly from chiropractors) that the services do wonders for cervical and lumbar disc herniations.

Here’s the kicker, the chiropractors I know that have built monster practices are monster marketers. They know their stuff and they know it cold. It’s my guess that those that didn’t plan properly, those they got themselves to deep in debt, and/or those that just lost focus on what it was they were trying to deliver, got sucked into a hole that’s only gotten deeper as our economy has shifted.

As a result we are seeing these e-mails where 2006 models for spinal decompression units like the DRX9000 are being sold for $39,000 and under. While spinal decompression is not my thing, this may be the time for one local chiropractor to drink the proverbial milkshake on their neighboring competition. Checking the chiropracticclassifieds, I’ve seen decompression tables (like a Dynatronics DX2) selling for under 10 grand. I’m also seeing ads for SpineMed Decompression Tables, Chattanooga Triton DTS Spinal Decompression tables, DOC Decompression tables, and others. It is looking to me like a buyers market.

And again, if gadgets are your thing, the market is not limited to decompression. There’s over two dozen active listings for surface EMG units, with brands that include MyoVision 8000, Insight Discovery, Neurodyne EMG, NeuScan EMG, Insight Millennium Second Generation SEMG & Thermo, and others. Just remember what I wrote the other day regarding gadgets and a recipe for new graduate failure.

Personally, I think now could be a great time for a chiropractor office to switch over to digital x-ray. Someone check up on the current market for converting analog over to complete digital and get in contact with me. Maybe we’ll do some product features. If you’re a chiropractor thinking about upgrading your office to digital x-ray, let us know what factors are affecting whether you purchase now, continue to hold out.

As far as spinal decompression goes, I don’t know that the market has dropped out on selling new units, but I suspect it’s a safe bet that some chiropractor somewhere is ready to walk away from their current lease, providing another with a sweet deal and a great opportunity. Drink those milkshakes, drink em all up. @ 12:42 pm | Article ID: 1224099792