Does flexion and distraction therapy help patients get better? In my experience absolutely, flexion and distraction therapy can be used for multiple conditions that I have found which help alleviate pain. Most practitioners use this therapy for disc treatment which can be effective for herniated discs. This method in theory creates a negative pressure or vacuum in the disc and pulls the herniation off of the nerve, not to mention the motion can help decrease inflammation. There are two camps of thought for disc herniation treatment, the flexion camp and the extension camp, done right I'm sure both can be useful, although I use flexion therapy more often than not.
There are other conditions that can be treated with this therapy as well. I have found that general low back pain, facet syndrome, muscle tightness and muscle soreness can be helped with flexion and distraction therapy. The mechanics work by first putting the spinal into traction, while doing this process the tissues are also being stretched. The type of stretch employed in the therapy is an elongation stretch which is a gradual motion. Also the gradual elongation stretch facilitates a pumping action to remove toxins and promotes healing. This dumping action helps in the facet joints of the lower back when they are inflamed. From my experience the results from the stretch and mobilization can be seen directly after the therapy, the patient will typically report an increase in the range of motion. The flexion motion also stretches the joint capsule, breaks joint adhesions, making lumbar adjusting somewhat easier, and also puts tensile force on the spinal cord which helps in the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid (csf).
When the flexion and distraction therapy is used in combination with regular chiropractic adjustment in the lumbar spinal I have found to have great results with patients. The course of treatment should be based on three steps and can vary in patients from condition to condition, obviously a patient with a herniated disc is going to take a longer time compared to a simple low back case. The three phases should center around the relief phase, correction phase, and strengthening phase. As usually a person with a simple case should start seeing a decrease of pain within the first week of care and the pain should decrease every following week. Physical therapy can be employed to help gate the pain at the beginning, but can be eased out as the patient reports more relief.