Spinal Decompression and Possible Misuse of FDA Logo

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

I was scanning through some websites this Saturday afternoon and something I came across on a chiropractors web site in Thousand Oaks, California, caught my attention. There was what appeared to be an advertisement for Spinal Decompression Services in the chiropractor’s office. What I found odd was seeing an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) logo underneath the link for more information on the spinal decompression service.

This was different from what I saw in a San Jose decompression advertisement in February, so I decided to grab a screenshot. Let’s take a look…

spinal decompression therapy with FDA logo The image reads: The World’s Most Advanced Non-Surgical Treatment for Herniated and Degenerated Discs

Below the image is a link which reads: Learn More about Spinal Decompression Therapy

Just below the link is the official logo for the FDA.

When clicking on the link, I was brought to a page which promoted traction and decompression therapies in the chiropractor’s office. The same image appeared on that page, along with the same linked text, and FDA logo.

After browsing around I noticed the page title read FDA Approved Back Pain Treatment (missed that the first time) and there was also a few paragraphs about this type of decompression therapy. There was an image of a woman receiving services on what appeared to be a Triton DTS Traction Unit (I assumed that’s what it was since the table said Triton DTS on the side).

I performed a search for Triton DTS and found lots of information on the company’s web site. I also found an FDA PDF document from February 24, 2006, regarding what appears to be a review and 510(k) clearance for marketing this product in the United States. Lastly, I found information on the FDA web site regarding misuse of the FDA logo. The Official FDA Logo Page reads…

Caution: The FDA logo should not be used to misrepresent the agency nor to suggest that FDA endorses any private organization, product, or service. Misuse of the FDA logo may violate federal law and subject those responsible to criminal penalties.

So now I’m confused. When looking at the screenshot image above it appears as though this product or service has FDA endorsement, since the web site features the official FDA logo everywhere it uses the phrase “learn more about spinal decompression therapy.” On the actual web page, the FDA logo is not clickable, or linked to anything, it just appears below the image and hyperlinked phrase.

Does this constitute FDA logo misuse and possible violation of federal laws? I’m not quite so sure, but I’d personally do more research before adding the FDA logo anywhere on my chiropractic website.