Traction is a gentle stretching treatment for the neck, back or sciatica. There are different types of spinal traction including manual and mechanical traction. During manual 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. Intermittent mechanical traction 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. During 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.

Traction is just one of the many skills used within our clinic and is rarely used as a stand-alone approach. A full and thorough clinical assessment is made at the start of treatment which allows the physiotherapist to use a combined approach in the management of inflammation, pain, to aid recovery and enhance rehabilitation.

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