Does IDD therapy for lower back pain / sciatica work?  As an osteopath in Edinburgh, I have a strong interest in any treatment that may help lower back pain or sciatica.  And I’ve all ready written an article on IDD therapy Edinburgh – for lumbar disc problems.

Lower back pain or sciatica?

My impression was that IDD therapy targets the Intervertebral Discs.  But “IDD” stands for Intervertebral Differential Dynamics.  Are you any the wiser?  I am not – I find the term unhelpful. I thought the second “D” might stand for “Decompression”, with the first one standing for “Disc”. But I was wrong on both counts.

IDD therapy goals

On the IDD therapy website, they state that the goals of IDD therapy are:

  • Improve the health of the intervertebral disc
  • Rehabilitate supporting muscles and ligaments
  • Realign spinal structures
  • Release pressure on nerves

They also state that IDD therapy is appropriate for back pain, neck pain and associated conditions such as sciatica.

IDD therapy evidence

However, if you read some of the research related to IDD therapy, it’s not promising.  The research cited on their own website gives disappointing results.  The best quality research that they quote is a “single randomized controlled trial” with 60 participants.  In this study they compared sham IDD therapy with real IDD therapy in a group of low back pain patients.  Both groups took part in a graded exercise program.  The results were pretty good for both groups.  Patients achieved less back pain, leg pain and use of pain medication. But the closing sentence of the summary is “The added axial, intermittent, mechanical traction of IDD Therapy to a standard graded activity program has been shown not to be effective.”  This is another way of saying that the combination of graded exercise and placebo was effective.

IDD therapy summary

It’s expensive.  There’s no real evidence that it’s more effective than sham IDD therapy.

The other side of the argument

You may be able to find a considerable number of people who feel they got a lot of benefit from IDD.  You may also find a large number of people who feel they benefited greatly from lumbar disc surgery.  However, when compared to sham, neither fares any better in the long-run. Sorry to disappoint.