Cervical Traction For Neck Pain
- Posted on: Aug 31 2017
Many people suffer from acute and chronic neck pain that may radiate into the shoulders and even sends pain, tingling, and numbness into the hands and fingers that limits head movements which in turn can make simple everyday activities such as bathing, driving, and sleeping, painful and laborious. One treatment that can be used is cervical traction. Cervical traction can either be done manually, by a therapist; or mechanically, by a machine. Tractions benefits include stretching muscles and separate joints in your neck which can take pressure off spinal discs and the nerves that travel down your arms.
Manual traction is done by a physical therapist who holds your neck and head in their hands and gently pulls your head, separating the cervical vertebrae. The therapist should hold the traction for 10-15 seconds with periods of relaxation and soft tissue massage between. This can be done for 10-15 minutes.
Mechanical traction is performed by using a harness that holds and attaches to your head and neck (See photo). It sounds and looks like a torture device, but it can work wonders for neck pain. The device is attached to an air pump that when pumped by the patient, increases pressure and gently pulls the head away, creating space between the vertebrae. The pump has a gauge to show how much pressure is being applied to the neck. You should feel a nice comfortable pull that relieves the pain, but pressure should not exceed 10-30 pounds (7-10% of body weight). Tension should be applied for 2-4 minutes with intermittent breaks of 1 minute. Total treatment time should last 10-15 minutes.
Cervical Traction can be done for diagnoses such as spondylosis, whiplash, headaches, herniated discs, and radiculopathy among others. Traction should not be performed with acute spinal injuries or tears, tumors, spinal fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, and spinal hypermobility. Soreness felt following treatment is normal, but no pain should be felt during treatment and if so, should be terminated immediately. Talk to a specialist to see if traction would be beneficial for you!