Vertebral axial decompression (VAX-D) is a form of spinal traction that is widely promoted as an effective and safe treatment of degenerated and herniated lumbar intervertebral disks. Information targeted at the general public emphasizes that the treatment is completely risk-free. We describe a patient with a large lumbar disk protrusion who experienced sudden, severe exacerbation of radicular pain during a VAX-D therapy session. Follow-up magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar region showed marked enlargement of the disk protrusion, and urgent microdiskectomy was required. To our knowledge, this is the first reported complication of VAX-D therapy. This case shows that VAX-D therapy has the potential to cause sudden deterioration requiring urgent surgical intervention.
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