Cervical traction, or traction of the spine, is a common therapy to treat neck and back pain caused by herniated discs, bulging discs, neck arthritis, and neck strains. Tension is placed on the head pulling it away from the neck. The purpose is to stretch the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine, expanding the space between the vertebrae. This position allows the muscles to relax, relieving spasms, and sprains, and releasing pinched nerves.
There are two types of neck traction used to stretch the cervical spine: Manual and mechanical. A physical therapist performs manual traction. Mechanical traction is accomplished by the use of different types of cervical traction devices. Some devices require management by therapists, and others are for use at home.
1. The ChiSoft ® Neck Traction Device
These devices inflate with air. Position the device around your neck and use the hand pump to increase the air gradually until the stretch it creates is comfortable for you. This method is recommended for tight neck muscles and bulging discs, to alleviate symptoms such as neck pain, numbness, tingling in the arms and headaches. This particular brand has a 4-star rating with users.
People report that using this device saves thousands of dollars in chiropractor and physical therapy bills. The device is very easy to use, doesn’t need assembly and can be used at home. It can be worn comfortably while sitting or lying down (unlike other devices), and relief begins within minutes. Some models allow for adjustable air pressure so that you can concentrate the traction more on one side than the other for more efficient relief. There are different sizes and designs available. Based on the brand and the quality of the item purchased, the device can cost from $14 to $65.
Some patients reported that the instrument placed their neck in an uncomfortable position. Other patients have reported that their device acquired small tears and holes from usage. Still other people said they had air leaks after frequent use.
2. The Neckpro Over- the-Door Cervical Traction Device
These neck stretchers also allow for neck traction at home. If you have arm pain originating from your neck or neck pain, this traction may be the method for your neck pain relief. It relieves neck pain from many sources including osteoarthritis, whiplash, and fibromyalgia.
This traction method uses a compression spring and ratcheting mechanism that gives the most precise amount of traction tension. There is a harness to attach to your head and a chin strap to keep it in place. The hook and pulley hang over the door. This particular product does not use a bag of water or weights like conventional home over-the-door traction systems do. It receives a 4.5-star rating from users.
Patient reviews give this method a high rating for effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and price. Although pricier than other devices, the treatment results make it a good value and it is available for home use.
This type of device is not very comfortable and not as portable as air neck devices. You will need a stable door and a straight- backed chair because it requires that you sit upright, in a straight-backed chair for minutes at a time. You also must make sure that the door you are using is not opened by someone while you’re sitting there. So, either lock the door or use a closet door.
3. The Comfortrac Home Cervical Traction Device
Each of these tools mirrors the material quality of and the professional results of the cervical traction performed in clinics, so they are very successful. With this device, you adjust the knobs that secure your skull, place the strap on your forehead, and pump up the pressure.
They are lightweight, portable, and made of durable material. They’re larger and provide stronger traction than other types of neck traction devices. No assembly is required, and they come in a carrying case. They receive 4.5 and 4.6 customer ratings.
They cost more than other types of neck traction (but the results are worth it). They’re not as easily portable as air traction, and they take up more room. Also, they can only be used lying down.
4. Arc4life Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillows
A quality cervical traction pillow can help you sleep all night, pain-free, and reduce your snoring. It can also gently stretch and ease your should muscles. The best ones are dense enough to last for years but are not too dense to be comfortable. The pillows are available in different shapes, and if you sleep on your side, you’ll want to choose one that doesn’t let your head slip back the middle while you’re asleep. These pillows are also available in various sizes and materials. This particular brand receives a 4-star rating from customers.
The Arc4Life Cervical Neck Pillow (mild v shape in the center of the pillow to cradle your head) is well suited for back sleepers.
The Arc4Life Cervical Neck Pillow may not be for you if you have a short neck. Also, it takes a couple of nights to get used to it.
5. The Pronex Pneumatic Cervical Traction Device
This device uses traction and air to give pain relief by providing equal pressure to the anterior and posterior discs of the cervical spine. It received an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 from people who use it.
The device is durable, the parts well secured, and the pump won’t break or deteriorate after many uses. It is handy enough to travel with and simple and ready to use right out of the box and comes in various sizes.
It must be used lying down.
Cervical traction can be a useful treatment for neck pain. Neck traction treatments at home should be discussed with and cleared with your doctor before you begin. Be safe and don’t cause harm to yourself by overdoing traction.
Spinal Stenosis and Neck Surgery
Treatment options for spinal stenosis include Water-based aerobic exercises, other low-impact workouts, losing excess weight, and devices that promote gentle traction. Also, strengthening exercises for the neck may improve posture. If you have had neck surgery, it is advised not to use neck traction at home.
Cervical traction is an effective treatment option for your neck pain and associated conditions. Consult with your doctor or therapist so that your neck pain therapy meets your particular problems and needs. Participating in an exercise program and postural correction are essential elements in your treatment plan.