Radiculopathy & Cervical Traction Beneficial or Useless?

Reference:Jellad A, et al The value of intermittent cervical traction in recent cervical radiculopathy. Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2009 Nov;52(9):638-52.

In this prospective study, patients with cervical radiculopathy were allocated into 3 groups.

1. PT only (exercise and manual therapies)
2. PT + manual traction
3. PT + mechanical traction

Basic Result: When compared to those receiving regular PT, those receiving either manual or mechanical traction did significantly better with respect to pain and disability scores at 1, 3 and 6 months after treatment.

Basic Conclusion: Both manual and mechanical cervical traction appear to be a beneficial added management option for patients with cervical radiculopathy.

My experience has been that traction works best if done daily; however asking patients to come for daily PT treatments is often not feasible.

Now the question is what kind of traction to use.

There is the rope on top of the door with a water bag option
(Not recommended due to difficulty in setting up and stress on TMJ).

There is the spinal decompression options
(Not recommended, costing needless thousands of $$ with no evidence showing it is better than any other old traction)

There is the Saunders Hometrac
(Recommended as it is effective but pricy for some)

Then there is the inexpensive pump up neck collars
(Never used them, so I have no comment)

How about a free home-made unit?

Posted on: December 20, 2013

Categories: Cervical Spine

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