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Cervical Traction

What is Cervical Traction?

The term cervical is a medical term referring to the neck and 7 vertebrae that make up that region. Cervical traction is a therapy that we use commonly in many conditions of the neck and upper back. The process involves a pull being applied at the upper neck through the use of a towel in manual traction or a strap in the case of mechanical traction. With the patient laying on their back, a towel in the case of manual traction (performed by the Doctor’s hands) or a strap in the case of mechanical traction (performed by a machine) lifts or pulls the head upward, causing each vertebrae in the cervical spine to lift toward the head. Through a rhythmic pattern of lifting and then returning to neutral, the therapy increases the space between each vertebrae that nerve roots occupy where they leave the spine, increases the space that each disc occupies and also opens facet joints (the joint that connects each vertebrae to the one above or below).

What does Cervical Traction do?

In plain terms, it is a long-axis stretch of the cervical spine that can also have effect on the upper thoracic spine too. Since our discs and the fluid filled cushions in our facet joints are only able to have waste products removed and new fluid pumped in through normal motion of the joints, this therapy is key for removing inflammation in the cervical spine and helping the discs and joints to maintain hydration. When an area of the neck becomes “stiff” this means that normal motion is not occurring in the area affected. This can mean that the discs and joints are not getting the hydration they need as the normal compression and decompression of those joint is not occurring. Typically we will address the source of the stiffness (usually muscular) through manual therapy and once the tightness is relieved, traction is applied to restore that normal motion and increase joint hydration, decreasing inflammation.

What Cervical Traction IS NOT!

Online, many people have seen aggressive manipulations of the cervical spine using a similar motion. A Chiropractor in Houston has been internet famous for some time as he performs an aggressive pull on the cervical spine with audible cavitations. Our cervical traction is a gentle and rhythmic stretch with no high force manipulation. The manipulation you may have seen is performed for different reasons but we do not perform that adjustment in office.

Conditions we have success with Cervical Traction:

  • Cervical facet syndrome
  • Cervical nerve root impingement/irritation
  • Cervical disc derangement (bulge, herniation)
  • Arthritis of the cervical spine

 Clinical example

(Written by Dr. Dan Bruner)

Two years ago, I had a patient present with motor weakness in his left arm. Due to facet joint irritation and a disc bulge, he was having impingement on the C5 nerve root which caused his deltoids to be severely weak on his left side. Without the assistance of his other arm, he was not able to even lift his hand high enough to grab a doorknob. We began treating with manual therapy to his neck and a period of 10 minutes of intermittent manual cervical traction. By his 4th treatment he had regained 50% range of motion in his shoulder and was able to grasp doorknobs, drink using that arm, etc. On his 8th treatment, when assessing his range of motion at the end, he lifted his arm straight up overhead without assistance. A great recovery that shows the power of diagnosis and cervical traction!

Location

Monday

9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Tuesday

9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Wednesday

9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Thursday

9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Friday

Closed

Saturday

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Sunday

Closed

Monday
9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tuesday
9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday
9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday
9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Friday
Closed
Saturday
Closed
Sunday
Closed