Most people occasionally experience neck pains due to bad sitting and sleeping postures. Some may experience neck pain because of pinched nerves in the spine, while others experience it due to strenuous activities. It normally takes three days for the pain to subside with the help of ice packs and medication.
The use of painkillers might not be enough when the pain becomes recurrent. To prevent the pain from getting worse over time, it might be necessary to seek long-term solutions such as physical therapy, neck traction, and surgery.
If you’re experiencing frequent neck pains, it’s always a good idea to undergo regular checkups with your doctor before the pain gets worse. Frequent neck pain can be resolved through effective long-term solutions such as cervical traction devices so that surgery would not be necessary.
All About Cervical Traction Devices
Minimizing pressure felt around the spine can significantly reduce neck pain. With the help of cervical tractions, the neck can be stretched slightly to reduce the pressure felt on the spine. The joint is given more space as a result, and the cause of the neck pain is eliminated. Traction addresses the direct source of pain, providing immediate relief.
Cervical traction devices are commonly used for treating spine-related injuries, but they can also be used to alleviate neck pain. They serve as an alternative for both medication and surgery, and they work well with physical therapy. You may use cervical traction if your neck pain originates from bulging discs, muscle strains, and herniated discs.
History of Traction Devices
As cervical traction devices became more popular, those suffering from chronic neck pain suddenly had more accessible and affordable options. Some traction devices can be worn even while at work. But the technology used for traction devices is not exactly new.
A study conducted by Dr. John D. Loeser cites Egyptian practices to be the origin of this modern technology. Both Egyptians and Greeks used tractions to treat dislocations, fractures, and other deformities. The practice also emerged during the Renaissance period, but it did not gain popularity.
It was only after the 1970s that this form of therapy was acknowledged as a cure for neck pain. The newfound appreciation for cervical tractions has brought forth new methods such as cervical radiculopathy. These practices have now been used to treat not only cervical spine injuries but also chronic neck pain.
Types of Cervical Traction
The benefit of providing relief for neck pain has brought about different types of cervical traction. The difference between these types is the method used to install the cervical traction.
1. Manual Cervical Traction
The advantage of using manual cervical traction is that the medical practitioner can assess any discomfort with the patient. This method is useful if you are not sure as to the extent and cause of your discomfort. However, this method is also extremely taxing for the medical practitioner because of how long it may take to properly align the traction to obtain ideal results.
Manual cervical traction is applied through trial and error. The medical practitioner applies traction in different positions to assess your situation. Pressure may constantly be applied over trigger points to reduce pain until the traction is completely aligned.
Your responses to the traction are also taken into consideration. Medical practitioners will put your comfort as the main priority when adjusting the traction. They will also assess any pain you might feel in order to prevent the possible aggravation of your injury.
Manual tractions can be worn intermittently. You’ll only need to wear the cervical traction device for a few hours every day. This procedure is conducted with a practitioner who will administer intermittent traction, a process where you’ll be wearing and removing the traction alternately.
2. Mechanical Cervical Traction
Mechanical cervical tractions provide accurate traction to resolve your neck pain without constant monitoring by a medical practitioner. The process of applying mechanical tractions is a lot faster than that of manual tractions. A calibrated machine will handle the alignment based on your weight and condition.
You’re given the choice between seated or supine traction. The supine position offers more room for muscle relaxation because you’re allowed to rest on your back. On the other hand, the seated position is less comfortable and requires more support. It is only used for cases when the supine position might aggravate the patient’s injuries.
Mechanical tractions provide different intermittent applications depending on your condition. The procedure is almost the same as with manual intermittent traction, but the force applied is more precise with the help of the machine.
3. Over-the-Door Cervical Traction
Over-the-door tractions are used for home treatment and can be administered without the help of a medical practitioner. These tractions are either mounted to a wall or a door and have a pulley with weights on the other end that will provide tension for the neck area.
Tractions for home treatment are lightweight and easy to set up because they are meant to be carried around. You can use over-the-door tractions wherever there is sufficient space for you to sit or lie down. These tractions can provide you comfort and relief without needing to visit a medical practitioner all the time.
Just like their manual and mechanical counterparts, over-the-door tractions can be worn intermittently. You may choose to wear the traction when you’re feeling discomfort around your neck. The pressure from the traction relieves the spine similar to how manual and mechanical tractions work.
Our Top Picks
Home tractions are commonly available on the market, but there are a lot of brands and product models to choose from. You can find some of the most recommended cervical tractions below.
1. ComforTrac Cervical Home Traction 1.0
The ComforTrac Cervical Home Traction 1.0 offers a lightweight and comfortable design. It can easily be used anywhere, and its design is intuitive even for first-time users. The traction only weighs 7 pounds and has a single-press button for pumping force up to 50 pounds.
Comfort is indeed the main focus of the ComforTrac Cervical Home Traction, and it shows in its rounded design and its strong yet comfortable grip around the neck. Memory foam is used for the headrest to improve relaxation, and there is an option to increase the angle of incline from 10 degrees to 20 degrees.
Using the ComforTrac Cervical Home Traction at least four times a week can significantly reduce pain in a short amount of time. You only need to wear the traction device for a few minutes every day to improve your condition. It’s also easy to set up so you can conveniently use your traction during your free time.
2. ComfortTrac Deluxe Home Cervical Traction Kit 2.0
This model is similar in design to the Cervical Home Traction 1.0. It is designed for ease of use and is lightweight at only 7 pounds, and thanks to its compact size, it can easily be stored inside a carrying bag so you can take it with you anywhere you go.
Comfort is still the main focus of the ComforTrac Deluxe Home Cervical Traction Kit 2.0 with its memory foam and single-press pump. The traction device’s rounded design fits snugly around the neck, and its angle of inclination can be adjusted from 10 degrees to 15 or 20 degrees.
The difference that the ComforTrac Deluxe Home Cervical Traction Kit offers is that it treats disc degeneration and cervicalgia better than its predecessor. It is recommended that you use it at least four times a week to immediately feel the results.
3. Everyway4all EverTrac CT800 CTD Neck Cervical Traction Device
The Everyway4all EverTrac CT800 CTD Neck Cervical Traction Device provides a portable and effective solution for chronic neck pain. The traction only weighs 7.3 pounds and is 23 inches long, making it easy to carry around or store in a large case.
The traction can provide a force of up to 50 pounds with the help of its patented Direct Cable Technology. Unlike other cervical traction devices, this traction device has no issues with air leakage because it uses cables to provide force. As a result, the Everyway4all EverTrac CT800 CTD performs just as it should every time it is used.
Getting your doctor's recommended amount of force can easily be achieved with the help of Direct Cable Technology. You only need to turn the knob, and the traction will provide the precise amount of force with every use.
The Everyway4all EverTrac CT800 CTD can be used daily to relieve chronic neck pain. The traction steadily provides the force needed to alleviate pain and promote faster recovery. However, it is strongly advised that you follow your doctor’s prescribed traction force amounts to avoid discomfort and serious injuries.
4. Neck Hammock Portable Cervical Traction Device
The Neck Hammock is a cheaper alternative to traditional home traction devices. It can easily fit inside your travel pouch and can be used by anyone because of its one-size-fits-all design. All you need to get started is a doorknob, door jamb, or pole where you can attach the traction device.
Straps are sewn to provide maximum durability even with prolonged use. You can move the Neck Hammock into any comfortable position without any worries. The force you exert is also in your control because the Neck Hammock does not require buttons or knobs to function.
It only takes 10 minutes of your time to feel the positive effects of the Neck Hammock. The traction provides improved blood flow and decreased neck pain after a few minutes of stretching your neck and shoulders.
5. EverRelief Cervical Inflatable Neck Traction Device
The EverRelief Cervical Neck Traction Device is a wearable and adjustable traction device that you can use even if you’re always on the go. It has an inflatable design and can fit neck sizes up to 17.5 inches.
This traction device also comes with a hand pump. You can freely adjust the traction by inflating or deflating the device, depending on your comfort level.
The EverRelief Cervical Neck Traction Device works by decompressing your neck, which relieves pinched nerves and built-up tension. You only need to wear the device for it to work, which means you have more time to be productive all day long.
Health Benefits and Side Effects
Aside from relieving neck pain, a cervical traction device also provides the following health benefits:
- Relieves sore spots and relaxes your joints
- Improves overall blood and oxygen circulation
- Fixes your body posture
- Provides a relaxing feeling that improves sleep
Minor side effects that may occur when using cervical tractions include the following:
Cervical traction devices are not recommended for some people because of their condition. Further injuries may occur if any of the following applies to you:
- Post-surgery devices attached to your neck
- Fractures involving the area around your neck
- Blockages in your arteries
- Tumors near the neck
Always consult your doctor before using cervical traction devices.
Traction devices can be more effective when used with traction exercises. These exercises can improve your condition and solve issues such as nerve root compression and muscle splinting. It is highly recommended that you have a physical therapist assist you in doing traction exercises.
There are two main forms of traction exercises, namely:
- Sustained – Constant tension force is applied for a period of time.
- Intermittent – Tension force is applied during the “hold” period, followed by an equal or shorter rest interval.
As with the use of traction, be sure to consult your doctor regarding which traction exercises are appropriate for your case. Some exercises might aggravate your injuries and cause more harm if you’re not fully aware of your condition.
There are different types of cervical traction devices that you can use to alleviate chronic neck pain, including portable traction devices for home treatment. It is a convenient way to reduce neck pain without having to visit a clinic. Many swear by the efficacy of cervical tractions, but it is always best to consult your doctor and confirm whether this technology is right for you.