Many people get traction at a therapist’s office or do home traction. One kind of traction is where the neck basically only gets stretched. The other is where you get stretched but also it helps restore the neck curvature.
In the neck there should be a 40-60 degree C curvature. This is the best position for the neck spine because it leaves the spinal cord relaxed and all of the nerves can travel out of the back of the spine with no pressure or interference.
True neck traction is traction where the goal is to restore the cervical curvature because this can be a long term fix for nerve pressure and neck problems like pain and muscle tension.
Traction where the head is simply stretched is a short term fix. Often the most common type is “overhead traction” or “over the door traction”. This is where some sort of harness is strapped onto your neck or head and there is a weight on the other end of the harness (usually over a door) creating the pull. Sometimes it’s done with small weights, or a water bag. This is similar to having someone gently pull upward on your head. It gives temporary relief.
By using true neck traction you can get relief that will last much longer. It has been said that any loss of the normal neck curvature is classified as a misalignment or subluxation of the spine. Any misalignment or subluxation puts pressure on nerves. Even a tiny misalignment can take away that nerve or those nerves’ ability to send the brains message to that particular part of the body.
This is why neck traction is often used by only people in pain and discomfort a lot of the time, but also used by people who show no symptoms of neck pain or soreness and the like.
A simple lateral x-ray of someone’s neck can show us what their neck curvature looks like. Otherwise looking at one’s posture from the side can tell us a lot. The middle of the ear should approximately line up with the middle of the shoulder. A vertical line should be able to be drawn between these two points.
If it doesn’t line up then it’s another case of the dreaded “forward head posture”. If that head is protruded out forward there is a great chance there’s loss of some of the adequate neck curvature and alignment.
One day of working on the computer or reading with your head down most likely won’t change your neck curvature but prolonged poor posture or a whiplash type injury can.
Take the football quarterback example. The quarterback gets sacked, hit from behind as he was about to throw. His back arches back, his neck arches back, as he is hit at the torso level. Then his body is flung forward as the momentum and force of the tackler moves in that direction. His neck whips back, forward, and then back again as he hits the ground (“whiplash”). So the quarterback’s spine was completely contorted, but he gets up, brushes himself of, and his spine shifts back into place.
The body is petty amazing! A lot of the time it will shift right back into alignment. Sometimes, however, the spine doesn’t go back into place and we now have a misalignment. This can be of solely one vertebra (back bone) or most often, a group of the segments or vertebrae of the spine.
With loss of the neck curve (cervical lordosis) it’s often a group of segments that are misaligned. Again, this can happen through some kind of trauma, like taking a hard tackle to getting rear ended in your car. And it doesn’t always take much force at all actually. The loss of neck curvature can also be due to poor postural habits over time. Things like working on a computer multiple hours a day without a break; or continuous reading with your head down; or long drives that are stressful, to give a few examples.
This is why traction is so often used now. It’s the best way to restore the neck alignment to what it should be. Correcting the curvature takes pressure of the nerves, reduces the inflammation, and relaxes the muscles. Neck traction not only helps people that have had trauma to the neck and clearly have sever neck pain, but it also helps prevent unwanted neck problems from arising.
Assured Health Physiotherapy clinic is an Interdisciplinary medical clinic located in New Westminster which offers several premedical services such as RMT, physiotherapy, chiropractic, RMT, Acup, etc.
Assured Health Physiotherapy is also offering medical products such as Custom-made orthotics, Compression Stockings, braces, and TENS machines.
To find out more, please Contact Assured Health Physiotherapy in New Westminster at 604-526-2671