Lumbar Traction?CT Scans support effectiveness!

Reference:: Onel D, Mills S, Jenkins V, et al 1989 Computed tomographic investigation of the effect of traction on lumbar disc herniations. Spine;14:82-90

There is no good solid research study yet that proves lumbar traction actually works! (What I mean is no randomised controlled study at least.)

Clinically, I have no doubt of the effectiveness of high traction on some patients who have non-resolving herniated discs with or without neural symptoms.

A 1989 study published in Spine, involved 30 patients with herniated lumbar discs who were treated with lumbar traction. The patients received traction of 45 kg force for 40-minute periods, daily for one month.

Computed tomography (CT) before and after treatment showed retraction of the disc herniation, which correlated with clinical improvement in 28 of the 30 patients.

It is of interest to note that the mean weight of the patients was 59 kg and the traction force used was 45 kg, which is 76% of their body weight?that is pretty high!

Personal Comment:Recommended use of traction as per HD Saunders:

Patient population: Patients with herniated lumbar disc with radiculopathy who don?t respond well to lumbar extensions or side glides.

Traction forces: Use at least 50% of the patient?s body weight, as tolerated. Lighter forces may be used in the initial treatment sessions, if the patient could not tolerate heavier forces.

Traction length: 10-15 minutes

Frequency: Minimum daily and preferably twice daily (Home traction unit required!)

Duration: Up to 8 weeks, or until symptoms improve or the patient?s condition worsens

Posted on: April 04, 2002

Categories: Lumbar Spine

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