What is cervical traction?
Traction of the spine, known as cervical traction, is a popular treatment for neck pain and related injuries. Essentially, cervical traction pulls your head away from your neck to create expansion and eliminate compression. It’s considered to be an alternative treatment for neck pain, helping people avoid the need for medication or surgeries. It can be used as part of a physical therapy treatment or on your own at home.
Cervical traction devices lightly stretch the neck to reduce pressure on the spine by pulling or separating the vertebrae. It’s said to be both highly effective and fast-acting. Read on to learn more about this technique and how it can be of benefit to you.
Benefits of cervical traction
Cervical traction devices treat different types and causes of neck pain, tension, and tightness. Cervical traction helps to relax the muscles, which can significantly relieve pain and stiffness while increasing flexibility. It’s also used to treat and flatten bulging or herniated disks. It can alleviate pain from joints, sprains, and spasms. It’s also used to treat neck injuries, pinched nerves, and cervical spondylosis.
Cervical traction devices work by stretching the spinal vertebrae and muscles to relieve pressure and pain. Force or tension is used to stretch or pull the head away from the neck. Creating space between the vertebrae relieves compression and allows the muscles to relax. This lengthens or stretches the muscles and joints around the neck.
These improvements may lead to improved mobility, range of motion, and alignment. This will allow you to go about your daily activities with greater ease.
A 2017 meta-analysis of studies analyzed the effectiveness of cervical traction in relieving neck pain. This report found that the treatment significantly reduced neck pain immediately following treatment. Pain scores were also reduced in the follow-up period. More in-depth, high-quality studies are needed to learn more about the long-term effects of this treatment.
A 2014 study found that mechanical traction was effective in treating people with pinched nerves and neck pain. Mechanical traction was more effective than exercising alone or exercising in addition to using over-door traction.
How it’s done
There are several ways to do cervical traction, either with a physical therapist or on your own at home. Your physical therapist can help you to decide upon the best method to suit your needs.
Your physical therapist may recommend that you buy cervical traction equipment to use at home. Certain devices may require you to have a prescription. Cervical traction devices are available online and in medical supply stores. Your physical therapist should show you how to use the device properly before you use it on your own.
It’s important that you check in with your physical therapist even if you’re doing a home treatment. They’ll make sure you’re doing the best treatment, measure your progress, and adjust your therapy as necessary.
Manual cervical traction
Manual cervical traction is done by a physical therapist. While you’re lying down, they’ll gently pull your head away from your neck. They’ll hold this position for a period of time before releasing and repeating. Your physical therapist will make adjustments to your exact positioning in order to get the best results.
Mechanical cervical traction
Mechanical cervical traction is done by a physical therapist. A harness is attached to your head and neck as you’re lying flat on your back. The harness hooks up to a machine or system of weights that apply traction force to pull your head away from your neck and spine.
Over-the-door cervical traction
An over-the-door traction device is for home use. You attach your head and neck to a harness. This is connected to a rope that’s part of a weighted pulley system that goes over a door. This can be done while sitting, leaning back, or lying down.
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Cervitrax neck traction brace has a unique design and offers you sufficient traction. The neck brace has a self-rotation switch to adjust the traction based on your preference. The bottom of the apparatus has a recoil pad that helps stretch the vertebra distance. There are also eight inflatable columns making it one of the most effective neck traction devices available on the market. The switch controls easily in reach.
It is usually regarded as the best home traction device, and its invention has led to the advent of more neck traction devices for home, which provides more comfort and is simpler. It lessens stress on the neck and is effective in case of injuries. The self-rotation switch feature in the new version allows for adjustment to provide comfort in any sitting position.
Side effects and warnings
Generally, it’s safe to perform cervical traction, but remember that results are different for everyone. The treatment should be totally pain-free.
It’s possible that you can experience side effects such as headache, dizziness, and nausea upon adjusting your body in this manner. This may even lead to fainting. Stop if you experience any of these side effects, and discuss them with your doctor or physical therapist.
It’s possible for you to injure your tissue, neck, or spine. You should avoid cervical traction if you have:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Post surgery hardware such as screws in your neck
- A recent fracture or injury in the neck area
- A known tumor in the neck area
- A bone infection (osteomyelitis)
- Issues or blockages with vertebral or carotid arteries
- Cervical instability
- Spinal hypermobility
It’s important that you follow any safety instructions and recommendations provided by your doctor or by the manufacturer. Make sure you’re performing the movements correctly and using the appropriate amount of weight. Don’t overexert yourself by doing cervical traction for too long. Discontinue use if you experience any pain or irritation or if your symptoms get worse.
Cervical traction may be a safe, wonderfully effective way for you to resolve neck pain. It may provide you with numerous improvements to your body, inspiring you to do it often. Ideally it will be effective in relieving neck pain and enhancing your overall function.
Always talk to your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any treatment. Touch base with them throughout your therapy to discuss your improvements as well as any side effects. They can also help you to set up a treatment plan that addresses exactly what you need to correct.
- Cervical traction for neck pain: https://www.healthline.com/health/cervical-traction#takeaway
- Cervical spondylosis (arthritis of the neck). (2015). orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/cervical-spondylosis-arthritis-of-the-neck/
- Fritz JM, et al. (2014). Exercise only, exercise with mechanical traction, or exercise with over-door traction for patients with cervical radiculopathy, with or without consideration of status on a previously described subgrouping rule: A randomized clinical trial. DOI:10.2519/jospt.2014.5065
Graham N, et al. (2008). Mechanical traction for neck pain with or without symptoms that radiate to the neck or arm.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Neck pain.
Yang JD, et al. (2017). Intermittent cervical traction for treating neck pain: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials [Abstract].