Traction Therapy

Neck (Cervical) / Low Back (Lumbar) Traction Therapy / Decompression Therapy


Spinal Decompression Therapy involves stretching the spine, using a traction table or similar motorized device, with the goal of relieving back pain and/or leg pain.

This procedure is called nonsurgical decompression therapy (as opposed to surgical spinal decompression, such as laminectomy and microdiscectomy).

Theory of Spinal Decompression

Spinal decompression devices use the same basic principle of spinal traction that has been offered by appropriately trained health professionals for many years.

Both traction and decompression therapy are applied with the goals of relieving pain and promoting an optimal healing environment for bulging, degenerating or herniated discs.

Spinal decompression is a type of traction therapy applied to the spine in an attempt to bring about several theoretical benefits including:

Create a negative intradiscal pressure to promote retraction or repositioning of the herniated or bulging disc material.

Create a lower pressure in the disc that will cause an influx of healing nutrients and other substances into the disc.

Physiologic Effects of Traction

Some theories on the physiologic effects of traction suggest that stimulation of proprioceptive receptors in the vertebral ligaments and monosegmental muscles may alter or inhibit abnormal neural input from those structures. As with other theories to explain the physiology of traction, there is little to no empirical evidence to fully support it.

Other interesting effects have been reported in the literature. Manual traction with forces of 30 and 60% of the patient’s body weight has been shown to immediately improve straight leg raise testing in subjects with and without back pain. Traction has been theorized to reduce pain by relieving pressure on the dorsal root ganglion or mechanically stimulating large diameter myelinated nerve fibers, thereby silencing ectopic discharge. Improved nerve conduction could result from improved blood flow or alleviation of mechanical compression resulting from traction.



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