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Cervical Traction Device
Cervical traction has been utilized for many years for relief of pain associated with neck muscle spasms or nerve root compression. Traction is a medical technique in which opposite forces are applied to separate parts of the body to stretch soft tissues, and/or separate bony structures. Cervical traction focuses on stretching the head away from the rest of the body to release tension and pressure on neck structures. It generally requires 2 minutes of sustained traction before the intervertebral spaces begin to widen. Forces between 20 and 50 pounds are frequently used to achieve intervertebral separation. Duration of cervical traction can range from a few minutes to 20 to 30 min, once or twice weekly to multiple times per day.
A variety of cervical traction devices are available for use in the home. The most commonly used device uses an "over the door" design, in which a patient wears a chin strap harness attached to a counterweight that is suspended over the door using a pulley system. The weight pulls the chin harness upwards, relieving tension on the neck. Other variations of this device include frames which attach to a headboard or freestanding units. "Over the door" units are designed to deliver no more than 20 pounds of tension. Pneumatic devices are also available that push up the head while pushing down on the shoulders. Pneumatic Traction device, which consists of a soft foam cushion that extends from the patient's shoulders to the back of the head (occiput) and is secured with a head strap. A patient-controlled bellows then inflates the cushions, thus applying up to 20 pounds of tension. Some pneumatic traction device can deliver up to 50 pounds of tension.
Pneumatic cervical traction devices were developed to deliver cervical traction in the home comparable to forces applied by physical therapists in the outpatient setting. The patient is instructed in home traction to relieve symptoms, an exercise routine to relieve spasm and discomfort, and to report any weaknesses, eye symptoms, and bladder or bowel incontinence immediately.
Efficacy of home cervical traction therapy study showed 81% symptomatic relief for mild to moderately severe cervical spondylosis.
American Journal Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 1999; 78(1):30-2 (ISSN: 0894-9115) Swezey RL ; Swezey AM ; Warner K. Swezey Institute, Arthritis and Back Pain Center, Santa Monica, California 90403, USA.
Cervical traction is administered by various techniques ranging from supine mechanical motorized cervical traction to seated cervical traction using an over-the-door pulley support with attached weights. Duration of cervical traction can range from a few minutes to 20 to 30 min, once or twice weekly to several times per day. Anecdotal evidence suggests efficacy and safety, but there is no documentation of efficacy of cervical traction beyond short-term pain reduction. Because of a clinical impression that a simplified, inexpensive, over-the-door home cervical traction method of treatment requiring 5 min of cervical traction twice daily was efficacious for both cervical pain and radiculopathic syndromes, we undertook a retrospective study of 58 outpatients treated between 1994 and 1996. Age range was 29 to 84 (mean, 56) yr. Twenty-three males and 35 females were classified as Grade 1 to Grade 3 according to the Quebec Task Force of Whiplash-Associated Disorders Cohort Study. Outcomes were as follows: Grade 1 (mild)--4 of 4 (100%) patients improved; Grade 2 (moderate)--34 of 44 (77%) patients improved (P < 0.01), 5 were unchanged, and 5 felt their symptoms were aggravated by cervical traction; Grade 3 (patients with radiculopathy)--9 of 10 (90%) patients improved (P < 0.01). In a retrospective study, a brief (3-5 min), over-the-door home cervical traction modality provided symptomatic relief in 85% of the patients with mild to moderately severe (Grade 3) cervical spondylosis syndromes. Prospective, randomized assessment of cervical traction for this and other methods is needed.
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Cervical Traction Device
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