Who Benefits From Lumbar Traction?

Reference:Fritz JM, et al Is there a subgroup of patients with low back pain likely to benefit from mechanical traction? Results of a randomized clinical trial and subgrouping analysis. Spine. 2007 Dec 15;32(26):E793-800.

Several past studies have confidently concluded that lumbar traction is useless! Regrettably, the studies failed to use common clinical sense.

Of course traction is completely worthless for most patients with LBP, however… is it possible that a small sub-group of patients would actually find traction extremely beneficial?

Finally, here we have an RCT that identifies a subgroup of patients with LBP who are most likely to respond positively to mechanical lumbar traction.

Sixty-four subjects with low back and leg pain and signs of nerve root compression were randomized to receive either:

i) A 6-week extension-oriented intervention

ii) A 6-week extension-oriented intervention with mechanical traction for the first 2 weeks

Result #1: The traction group showed significantly greater improvements in disability and fear-avoidance beliefs scores after 2 weeks. But not at 6 weeks

Result #2: Two important variables were associated with better outcomes with traction treatment:

One: If they had peripheralization with extension movements and

Two: If they had a positive crossed straight leg raise test

Posted on: September 10, 2008

Categories: Lumbar Spine

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