Journey Through Time: The Story Behind IDD Therapy

In a world where about 80% of us will experience back pain at some point, it’s easy to appreciate the search for effective treatment. The ubiquity of this discomfort has often been compared to the common cold. Yet, for the longest time, options to address severe cases were rather limited. Most found themselves grappling with invasive procedures such as surgery or spinal injections, or bracing themselves for a lifetime tethered to heavy painkillers. But as the 20th century drew to a close, a beacon of hope began to shine from North America. A game-changing intervention called Intervertebral Differential Dynamics Therapy (IDD Therapy) was emerging and was about to rewrite the narrative for those living with chronic neck or back pain.

IDD Therapy Explained

So, what exactly is IDD Therapy? At its core, it’s a non-surgical method of decompressing the spine, providing much-needed relief for those plagued by persistent back and neck pain. It works using a state-of-the-art machine called the SDS Spina. This remarkable machine, paired with computer-controlled forces, can specifically target damaged segments of the spine. The machine employs gentle forces to draw apart and move these spinal segments, encouraging them to regain hydration and nutrients. This not only decompresses the disc but also mobilises the surrounding tissue, creating an ideal environment for the body’s natural healing process.

The History of IDD Therapy

The idea behind IDD Therapy isn’t completely new. We’ve known for a long time that movement is crucial for the health of our spinal discs. It’s essential for hydration and nutrient supply, and when compression occurs due to conditions like sciatica or a herniated disc, chronic and debilitating pain often follows.

The concept of creating space between our vertebrae to promote healing is something that dates back to the days of the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, in the 5th Century. This was originally known as traction therapy. However, over time, this method fell out of favor due to a lack of solid evidence supporting its effectiveness.

The shortcomings of traction therapy were numerous. Clinicians often had to operate ‘in the dark,’ as advanced diagnostic tools like MRIs weren’t readily available until the 1980s. Traction therapy also had a ‘one size fits all’ approach, stretching the entire spine instead of focusing on the specific areas needing attention. Its rudimentary mechanics and linear movements also limited its effectiveness.

This is where IDD Therapy stepped in to revolutionize the approach. By employing precise computer-controlled cyclical forces, IDD Therapy could overcome the limitations of its predecessor. It could target specific segments, apply consistent forces, and maintain patient comfort throughout the process, effectively turning the tide in the fight against chronic back and neck pain.

The Evolution of IDD Therapy

While many dismissed traction therapy as a lost cause, a few visionaries, like North American Neurosurgeon Norman Shealy, saw its potential. Shealy believed that an alarming number of people were opting for surgery for spinal issues when non-invasive alternatives could be possible.

Shealy built upon the work of Dr. Ivan Ramos-Galves, who had studied the effects of vertebral axial decompression and demonstrated that it could significantly reduce intradiscal pressure. Inspired by these findings, Shealy set out to correct the shortcomings of traction therapy in the late 1990s.

He used principles of vector forces to target isolated spinal segments, creating more space for the discs and promoting healing. Working with his research coordinator, Vera Borgmeyer, Shealy conducted a randomized controlled trial comparing traction and targeted decompression techniques. The results were clear: while traction had some success, decompression significantly improved conditions in 86% of all cases.

Following this breakthrough, other neurologists continued the research, unveiling the full potential of IDD Therapy. In 2006, Neurologists Dennis McClure and Bethany Farris tracked 415 patients treated with IDD Therapy over a two-year period. Their findings revealed a 79% success rate for patients with lumbar pain. Remarkably, a staggering 92% success rate was reported for patients who were previously considered candidates for surgery.

Looking Ahead

Now, in 2023, IDD Therapy has become a global phenomenon. It not only offers people suffering from chronic back and neck pain a reprieve but also provides an effective alternative to invasive procedures. The journey of IDD Therapy from a concept to a world-renowned treatment methodology is a testament to relentless scientific inquiry and innovation.


Steve Morris is a highly experienced Osteopath with over three decades of hands-on experience. As one of the pioneering figures to introduce IDD Therapy in the UK back in 2010, Steve has not only established himself as a leading authority in the non-surgical treatment of disc conditions, but he’s also recognised as one of the country’s foremost experts in mechanical decompression through IDD Therapy.

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