Neck pain can seriously affect you and hinder you from performing basic daily activities. A large number of people across the globe suffer from this prevalent musculoskeletal condition. As of 2019, the prevalence of this condition was found to be 27 per 1000 people. Several different causes can end up in neck aches in individuals.
If you are suffering from neck pain and have had enough of taking prescription medicines, we can help you!
Neck traction is a viable solution for those seeking symptomatic relief from debilitating neck pain. Read on to learn more about it!
What Is Cervical (Neck) Traction?
Cervical traction, also known as spine traction, is a simple and non-invasive procedure to relieve pain induced by pathologies of the spine. When used for neck issues, it is referred to as cervical spine traction or just cervical traction.
A physical therapist usually performs cervical traction. However, home cervical traction is also possible, thanks to reliable and effective cervical traction devices. Research suggests cervical traction can be beneficial in relieving neck pain. A study concluded that cervical traction could significantly reduce neck pain and disability.
How Does It Work?
The main aim of cervical traction is to create space between the cervical vertebrae (spinal neck bones). Space is created by gently pulling the head. The additional space allows a reduction in tension between the bones and muscles. Thus, patients can achieve pain relief.
There are two ways in which cervical traction can be done. Generally, the physical therapist decides which method shall work best for you. However, with new and advanced cervical traction devices, it is easier to get pain relief at home (all by yourself!).
Manual Cervical Traction
A physical therapist performs this type of traction. The professional therapist will gently pull your head away from the neck while you lie comfortably. The physical therapist will hold the head in this position for some time and then release it. The step is repeated a few times. Your therapist will often adjust the head to achieve the ideal position for the best results.
Mechanical Cervical Traction
The mechanical type of cervical traction is relatively easier to perform and thus can be more effective. In mechanical cervical traction, the physical therapist places your head (and neck) in a cervical neck traction device. The machine then gently pulls your head and keeps it in position for a specific period.
According to studies, using a cervical traction device with segmental mobilization and exercise is more effective than manual cervical traction for neck pain patients. Thus, modern therapists use cervical traction devices to provide instant relief to patients.
Cervical Traction Devices for Neck Pain
You can now mimic the hands of a professional with advanced cervical neck traction devices. A cervical neck traction unit can alleviate neck pain at home. The devices are safe to use with minimal risk of injury and also keep dangers to a minimum. The padded cushions are soft to the head/neck. A cervical neck traction device can be used for a herniated cervical disc, cervical radiculopathies, spondylosis, and neck pain.
Benefits of Cervical Traction
There are numerous cervical traction benefits for neck pain patients. Traction of the spine effectively alleviates neck pain. Patients across the globe claim to achieve instant relief with this non-invasive therapy.
With stretching of the neck, you can expect a reduction in stiffness of the neck muscles. This maneuver also increases the flexibility of muscles and improves the range of motion (when paired with physical therapy).
Cervical traction can be performed to provide neck pain relief for the following conditions:
Muscle spasms and strains are very common. The neck is a crucial structure, thus, prone to spasms. Cervical traction can help relieve acute pain arising from neck spasms. Recurring neck spasms are common in patients with cervical radiculopathy. Studies show that the procedure can be effective in providing relief from neck spasms.
Creating space between the vertebrae (atlas and axial vertebrae) reduces pressure and tension of the muscles. That eases the neck joint and improves motion and mobility.
Cervical Radiculopathies (CR)
Cervical radiculopathy is a painful condition characterized by compression and irritation of a nerve in the cervical spine. Nerve pain usually radiates from the neck into the arm and hand. Patients have also noted sensations of numbness, burning, and tingling.
The pinched nerve can be decompressed by cervical traction. A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that cervical spine traction could be effective in managing symptoms of cervical radiculopathy.
Those wondering if traction is suitable for the long-term can be relieved as studies reveal that even intensive therapy can work. According to a pilot study, an intensive cervical traction protocol significantly reduced disability in cervical radiculopathy patients. Half of the participants showed significant improvements in the mean neck disability index.
A cervical traction device can do the job perfectly for you. A traction exercise brace (cervical traction device) has been shown to improve CR condition by restoring the biomechanics and adjusting the neck's vertebra (and associated structures).
You can attain superior results by pairing traction with neural mobilization. 4 weeks of neural mobilization and cervical traction therapy resulted in noticeable reductions in pain and disability among CR patients.
Disc herniation can lead to severe neck pain that does not respond to over-the-counter analgesics. Cervical traction is a non-invasive treatment therapy for bulging discs. You can opt for continuous or intermittent cervical traction for your bulged disc. As per a study, intermittent cervical traction is a potent therapy for large-volume herniated disks. Therapy is most effective when given for three weeks.
It is effective as a treatment because it widens the disc spaces. Cervical traction showed promising outcomes in a 71-year-old patient with herniation at C5-6 and C6-7. Patients with traumatic disc herniation should be cautious while doing cranial-cervical traction. Such individuals must get an early realignment of the spine.
Spine traction can ease disc herniation pain in the neck region.
The cervical spine's degeneration and wear and tear are referred to as cervical spondylosis. The condition is characterized by the development of bony edges (spurs) on the vertebrae due to degeneration. The age-related condition leads to severe pain in the neck region. Cervical traction can be used to provide relief to patients.
In a detailed clinical trial, cervical spondylosis patients received treatment with cervical traction and exercise. The study concluded that cervical traction and exercise strengthened the neck muscles and are more beneficial in pain relief than NSAIDs (pain killers).
In a randomized controlled trial, cervical spondylosis patients were treated with a cervical traction device for four weeks. After the conclusion of the period, it was noted that traction via a cervical traction device is a highly efficacious process that provides instant relief. Thus, individuals with chronic neck symptoms due to cervical spondylosis can benefit from cervical traction.
Narrowing of joint space between the vertebrae is spinal stenosis. This condition can lead to different nerve symptoms due to pressure on the nerves. Cervical traction is a possible non-invasive treatment modality for patients with mild disease. As per studies, traction of the spine can be employed to release the pressure of different spinal segments and achieve neck and back pain relief.
Contraindications of Cervical Traction
Despite being a relatively safe procedure, cervical traction is contraindicated in several conditions. Older age people should avoid it. Patients of osteoporosis and osteomyelitis have fragile bones and should avoid traction. Conditions like acute torticollis and aortic aneurysms can cause further damage with spine traction. The non-invasive procedure may also be unsafe for myelopathy and spinal cord tumor patients.
Individuals suffering from chronic anxiety disorders or phobias (claustrophobia) should stay away from cervical traction as it may worsen the condition. Claustrophobics can feel suffocated during the procedure because it requires covering the neck and head region with a cloth or a device. Patients who have had cervical fusion surgery can damage the spine by doing cervical traction.
Therapists should avoid cervical traction on pregnant ladies.
Side Effects Associated With Cervical Traction
There are very few dangers of cervical traction as it is generally a very safe process. However, there are certain side effects associated with cervical spine traction.
It is important to note that a cervical traction process should be pain-free. Overdoing it might cause unwanted trouble. The possible side effects associated with cervical traction include headache, nausea, and dizziness. In some cases, it may lead to fainting. If experiencing any such effects, stop the traction exercise and consult your therapist/healthcare provider.
The following are some frequently asked questions related to cervical traction:
Does Cervical Traction Work?
Numerous clinical studies advocate the use of cervical traction for neck pain relief. This procedure allows the creation of space between the cervical vertebrae, which relaxes the musculoskeletal structures of the neck and imparts pain relief in several neck conditions.
Can You Do Cervical Traction at Home?
Yes, you can perform cervical traction at home. Physical therapists and chiropractors generally perform the non-invasive procedure, but you can do it yourself (if appropriately learned). You can use a towel or a long cloth for the purpose. You can also acquire a cervical traction device online.
Are Cervical Traction Devices Safe?
Yes, cervical traction devices are generally safe to use. The devices are designed to support your neck and apply gentle pressure, thus, keeping it within safe limits. Modern cervical traction devices can treat herniated discs, spondylosis, cervical radiculopathies, etc.
Are Cervical Traction Devices Effective in Reducing Neck Pain?
Yes, a cervical traction device creates space between the cervical vertebrae of the spine. Pain arising from stenosis, nerve impingements, and muscular spasms alleviates with a cervical traction device. The created space relaxes the strained muscles and releases the pressure on the compressed nerves.