What is the role of cervical traction in the treatment of cervical disc disease?

Updated: Apr 16, 2020
  • Author: Michael B Furman, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Dean H Hommer, MD  more...
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Cervical traction may relieve radicular pain from nerve root compression. Traction does not improve soft-tissue injury pain. Hot packs, massage, and/or electrical stimulation should be applied prior to traction to relieve pain and relax muscles.

  • Traction regimens include heavy weight-intermittent or light weight-continuous. The neck is flexed 15-20º (ie, not extended) during traction. In the cervical spine, approximately 10 lb of force is necessary to counter gravity and 25 lb of force is necessary to achieve separation of the posterior vertebral segments.

  • Light weight-continuous home traction is cost effective and provides the patient with more autonomy.

  • Pneumatic traction devices afford greater patient comfort and, consequently, increased compliance.

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