Spinal traction done for therapeutic purposes comprises of either manually or mechanically created forces in order to stretch and mobilize the spine. Traction helps in relieving back pain by stretching the tight muscles of the spine which result from spasm. Traction also helps widen the inter vertebral foramen so that the nerve root impingement is relieved thus relieving pain.
Evaluation of the Patient:
Each patient is different and unique and what is effective for one patient may not be as effective for another. Therefore, each potential patient is evaluated thoroughly before starting the treatment. This evaluation allows the chiropractor or the therapist to decide on the type of traction to be used, the force/weight of the traction and the length of treatment.
Techniques of Traction:
Techniques in spinal traction depend partly on the patient's physical condition, disorder, tolerance level and the level of the spine to be treated. Traction may be applied manually, positional or mechanically. Traction can be applied intermittently or as a continuous force.
Cervical spinal traction is done as a short-term treatment for neck pain. It is designed in a way to relieve nerve root compression and muscle spasms. A steady or intermittent force is applied to the neck in order to stretch the muscles and soft tissues along with widening the spaces between the upper vertebrae by using a manual, i.e. hands only or mechanical force. The chiropractor or physical therapist decides the amount of force and the length of time a person stays in a traction. The amount of pressure is increased gradually.
In the same way, in lumbar traction intermittent or continuous force is applied to the spine either manually or mechanically. The aim of lumbar traction is to decrease the pain related with muscle spasms and nerve root impingement. Lumbar traction is also done for treating herniated or protruding discs, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. Just like cervical spinal traction, lumbar traction also increases the space between the vertebrae, and relieves pain and promotes healing.
Spinal traction (cervical/lumbar) is a treatment option that is centered on applying longitudinal force to the spinal column axis. Certain regions of the spinal column are gently and slowly pulled in opposite directions so as to stabilize or change the position of the injured or damaged sides of the spine. There are many medically accepted uses for spinal traction, including the soft tissues or joints mobilization, decompression of pinched nerve roots and herniated intervertebral disc reduction.
Traction is very effective and does wonders for realigning a dislocation in the cervical spine and stabilizing the injuries to the cervical spine. There are many neck or cervical traction device/ equipment, lumbar traction device and lumbar home traction equipment available in the market which the patient can do at home also. However, patient should always consult his/her physician before starting any traction treatment and care should be taken when doing it at home.
Contraindications to Traction:
If the structural integrity of the spine is impaired, such as seen in osteoporosis, infection, tumor or cervical rheumatoid arthritis, then traction should be avoided. Traction is also contraindicated in other physical conditions such as cardiovascular disease pregnancy, hernia and in some cases of TMJ. Traction if done in these conditions can prove to be very harmful.
Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Consult your medical care provider for medical advice, treatment and followup.