Mechanical Traction

What is spinal traction?

Spinal traction is a treatment to elongate your spine, thereby relieving the pressure that’s causing your pain. There are two main types of spinal traction, including: 

Manual spinal traction

Manual spinal traction involves hands-on manipulation to your back. Specific movements using controlled force can increase the spaces between spinal vertebrae (the tiny bones that make up your spinal column). 

Mechanical spinal traction

In mechanical traction, you’ll wear a harness that’s attached to a mechanical decompression machine. Your physical therapist programs the machine with specific treatment parameters so the system knows exactly where and how much pressure to use to elongate your spine. It then pulls the spine apart to relieve pressure.

The fellowship-trained providers assess your situation and needs carefully so they can recommend which of these approaches will be most effective for you. 

What conditions might require mechanical traction?

Mechanical spinal traction can be an excellent treatment option for both back and neck pain. It’s also an effective approach for back pain that shoots to the leg (sciatica) and neck pain that shoots to the arm (cervical radiculopathy).

Some examples of conditions that mechanical spinal traction can help with include: 

  • Herniated discs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint syndrome
  • Spinal stenosis 

In most cases, mechanical traction is one part of a comprehensive recovery plan. For example, most of these conditions improve rapidly with a combination of mechanical traction and other treatments like massage therapy, electrical stimulation, instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, or other techniques. 

How does mechanical traction relieve pressure and pain?

Mechanical traction gently pulls the vertebrae apart, which works to relieve pain in a couple of ways. 

First, mechanical traction eases pressure on your discs and nerves. For example, if you have a herniated disc, mechanical spinal traction can allow the disc to move back into its proper place between your vertebrae. This prevents the disc from pressuring other spinal structures like your nerves to ultimately ease pain. 

In addition, mechanical spinal traction allows blood to circulate to the damaged or injured tissue in your spine. Blood contains the oxygen and nutrients critical to healing, so as your tissue heals it further eases pain and other symptoms. 

Mechanical traction offers tremendous pain relief without drugs or invasive treatments. To learn how it can help with your back or neck pain, call Back To You Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation to book an appointment today.