Spinal traction is the process of applying a separating force through body weight or machine to draw apart the vertebrae of the spine. This is not as scary as it sounds!
Spinal traction may be indicated for people with cervical spine, low back, orradiating pain that is likely caused by a vertebral disc protrusion or degenerative changes. It can be used to accomplish one or more of the following purposes: distract (pull apart) vertebral bodies, distract and glide the facet joints, widen the inter-vertebral foramen (openings to the spinal canal formed by the vertebrae), or stretch spinal musculature. Release of discal pressure and widening of inter-vertebral space can reduce discal pain and pain caused by impingement of nerves exiting the spinal cord.
A full and thorough clinical assessment is required to guide the best approach to treating your problem and is rarely used as a stand alone approach.
There are different types of spinal traction. The most common method isintermittent mechanical traction; which involves the use of a split table and a mechanical device to apply and withdraw force rhythmically every few seconds. We have the specialist equipment to be able to offer this approach.
We can also perform other forms of traction not involving machines. Such as inmanual traction, the physiotherapist may use the weight of his or her body in applying a traction force to the spine. Manual traction is often used to assess a person’s response to traction, or when adjustment of the position or amount of force may be needed. Positional traction allows the patient to be positioned to maximize the effect of traction on the suspected causative structure, or to allow the patient to remain in a preferred posture until pain is relieved.
With mechanical lumbar traction, traction harnesses are placed around the patient’s pelvis and thorax. The client then lies comfortably on a special split table on his or her back, depending upon the position thought to be optimal for the specific symptoms being treated. The split table allows for minimizing of friction forces and optimum comfort. The straps of the harness are hooked to the motorized traction unit that is programmed for the traction force, overall time, and hold/rest periods desired.
For cervical traction, the exact position of treatment and harness differ, but similar principles apply to give best possible relief.