Traction is a type of therapy typically performed by a physical therapist. It uses a gentle pulling technique to stretch and lengthen the bones, while reducing pain, increasing blood flow, and promoting proper alignment. It’s commonly performed on the neck or spine for pain relief or posture correction. By removing the force of gravity, pressure is removed from the nerves; all traction is performed while the patient is lying down.
Manual traction is when a physical therapist uses his or her hands to pull and stretch, then gently release the affected area of the body. The technique is not forceful and should relieve (not cause) pain. As the therapist monitors your progress during manual traction, he or she might change the angle of the area being worked on for optimal results.
Mechanical traction is similar to manual traction but uses a device to exert the pulling force. The machine is typically made up of a harness or belt, straps, and a system of pulleys. Mechanical traction has the same benefits of manual traction and can be performed in a patient’s home with the proper device. A healthcare provider will determine the appropriate home care with mechanical traction.