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Traction

What is it?

Spinal traction is a technique we use to help open up the intervertebral joint spaces. This is done with a traction machine which uses pulleys to distract the individual intervertebral joint. Your Physiotherapist will place you on the traction bed and set it up for lumbar, thoracic, or cervical traction. It is a relatively painless technique that is used to treat the following conditions:

  • Spinal nerve root impingement.
  • Herniated disc.
  • Ligament encroachment.
  • Narrowing of the intervertebral foramen.
  • Osteophyte protruding onto the nerve root.
  • Spinal nerve root swelling.
  • Joint hypomobility.
  • Degenerative joint disease.
  • Extrinsic muscle spasms and muscle guarding.
  • Pain going into the arm or leg coming from the spine.

The distractive forces applied by the traction machine results in widening of the intervertebral foramina which temporarily reduces the size of a disc herniation/protrusion. This creates a negative pressure in the intervertebral disc to suck back the protruding disc secondary to taut spinal ligaments pushing the disc into protrusion. It causes a neurophysiological effects of pain inhibition and non-specific mobilisation of the facet joints as well as mobilisation of stiff intervertebral joints and stretching of the paraspinal muscles. Pain relief occurs as it releases and stretches the tight capsule, ligament, or adherent nerve root.