I have been using various forms of traction in my practice for years. The reason is simple, it works. You may have heard the popular term, decompression therapy. This is only a new way to market an old treatment. The premise is extremely easy to understand. If the patient's symptoms are a result of a compressed spine, relief can be found by decompressing (tractioning) the spine. Not all conditions will respond favorably to traction type treatments, but when appropriate there is no better alternative. There are various ways to administer traction and I personally favor those types of treatments where I have the control (not relying on a machine).
For the lower back, I use a Hill flexion/distraction table. I utilze the Cox traction (www.coxtechnic.com
) protocols. This technique is a doctor-applied, doctor controlled, patient focused treatment designed to provide spinal pain relief. Initially, the patient will lie face down on my table designed specifically for this type of treatment. A tolerance test will be done to ensure you are a ready candidate for this treatment. When I deliver the traction, I focus on the levels of compression only. The goal is to reduce the stenosis (a stricture where the nerves exit the canal) and decrease the pressure in the disc. The end result is an increase in the size of the canal and a releasing of entrapped nerves. This procedure can be utilized in place of a spinal adjustment or in conjunction with an adjustment. To increase the chances of success, I will prescribe core strengthening/stretching exercises.
For the neck, I often use traction to alleviate pain associated with a pinched nerve. If the orthopedic examination dictates traction, the patient's success rate is extremely high. I will manually apply the traction in the office or use a traction table. If the patient responds favorably, I always prescribe a home unit to allow the patient to continue the decompression in the comforts of their own home.
The accepted and published protocols for traction indicate 3-6 treatments a week (whether in the office or home) for 4-6 weeks. If the patient does not see results after two weeks, I will order an MRI/CT to further investigate the problem. Depending on the results of the study, referrals may be made.