80 per cent of people will have back pain at some stage in their life. 30-50 per cent of people at any one time will be suffering from back pain, making it the third leading cause of time off from work.
Back pain can be crippling and exhausting. From a slight ache to severe agony, few medicines or therapies give adequate relief, but now a new invention's proven to be a success.
James Childs had a surfing accident when he was 14, which damaged his lower spine. He was one of 42 patients to trial the Nubax device through the University of WA.
He was a bit sceptical at first, after trying so many different things to get it fixed.
In just three weeks, James was already feeling results. At the start his pain was strong and constant, but after just six minutes each day, the change was dramatic.
By the end of the trial, James said he was probably 90% pain free. When the trial finished he bought one for himself and continued using it for another 6-8 weeks after that. By the end of that, James claimed he was totally pain free.
Professor Tim Ackland from the University of WA supervised the trial.
"These people came to us having at least three months worth of chronic lower back pain, they'd tried a number of therapies, and this provided them with immediate relief," he said. "All it takes is three minutes when you wake up, and three minutes before you go to bed."
The idea behind the device is that it uses body weight to provide tension stress on the lumbar and thoracic spine, and this provides a distraction for the vertebrae�a bit like hanging upside down from the monkey bars. Gravity will tend to pull the spine apart.
Traction of the spine was big in the early fifties, but it's popularity faded.
I suppose it went out of favour because there wasn't the devices around to test whether the traction was working or not, nowadays with medical imaging devices we can see whether the device is actually having an effect or not.
Alison Scott from the WA Chiropractic Association says although they'd like to see more trials, they're keen to test Nubax for themselves.
"We as an association do support self-care strategies. Our focus is to enable our patients to do as much for themselves as they possibly can to get healthy, and if this proves to be something that they can do then that's fantastic."
Nubax costs $495, some private health insurers allow you to claim some of that back. Compared to paying for physio or chiro once a week, if you add up the bills over a 6 to 12-month period you cover one of these devices quite easily.
Hopefully in the future people will be able to hire the units.
But a word of warning from Alison: "The spine can have so many different problems that someone choosing without any guidance whatsoever on their on self-care strategy probably isn't the best thing for them."
So check with a health professional to see if it will suit your condition before you race out and buy one.
For more information on the Nubax unit, contact "Practitioner Supplies" on 1800 088 668 or 8277 7677