Cervical traction (or traction mallet therapy) is a safe, non-invasive, alternative therapy for neck and head pain, with little or no adverse side effects. When used properly, cervical traction devices can significantly reduce symptoms associated with posturing (standing upright), as well as neck pain caused by strain or muscle spasm from a sports or work-related accident. When used as an adjunct to other treatment methods, cervical traction devices provide faster symptom relief, as well as increased mobility and better functioning. Here’s how cervical traction works:
With cervical neck traction devices or traction machines, a specially-designed head brace is affixed directly to the patient’s head and neck, where the patient is positioned in a comfortable and neutral position. Then, with a counterweight securely attached to either a manual or electronic pulley system, the patient is gently stretched out from the shoulders, loosening tension and stabilizing disc compression. The stretch breaks the adhesions, releasing any trapped pressure on the discs, nerves, and muscles. Cervical Traction Devices releases the compressed spinal fluid and increases blood and oxygen flow to the injured area. This improved circulation provides relief for a wide variety of painful symptoms.
The top 5 best cervical traction devices are straight cervical braces, which are made up of a metal ring (Cervical Ring) placed around the top portion of the lumbar spine and across each vertebrae. The ring is then fastened to the top of the chair or seat with Velcro or hook-and-loop fasteners. These brace types are great for providing extended therapeutic benefits, because they do not rely on gravity for their support. A cervical brace that is worn when you’re sitting will allow the spine to be supported as though it were in a reclining position. This allows for maximum therapeutic effects, as the therapeutic forces are equally distributed across the body.
Another cervical brace option is over-door cervical traction splints that have an open design. They look similar to over-door style wheelchairs and are used for relief for conditions such as herniated discs, spondylosis, osteoarthritis, and more. An over-door model allows you to be able to leave your chair at anytime, giving you comfort in your own home.
Spinal decompression braces are another option for providing spinal relief. The way it works is by applying traction force to a degenerative disc between two vertebrae. By doing so, this force reduces irritation and inflammation, allowing for a more comfortable and safe way to treat spinal curvatures and avoid surgery. Most compression braces provide traction with an open design, allowing the spine to move naturally while not risking exposure to dangerous spinal curves and potential injury.
An additional cervical traction unit available for purchase is the flexion insertable legs unit. Flexion units employ a combination of open and closed designs, which allow for continuous compression even when the device is in use. The most common types of flexion inserts are spring loaded and pinched bendable rods. The most common design, known as a post screw threaded rod, provides continuous cervical traction when in use, without any wear or tear. Another design, called a pinched bend provides minimal contact with the spine while maintaining contact with the upper portion of the disc, which reduces friction and promotes optimal healing.
While most people consider cervical splints and other such devices to provide effective relief for neck pain, such devices also come with their own set of cons. The main con of using such products is the fact that they can be bulky and awkward, making them difficult to wear and/or use in some cases. In addition to being awkward, such products may not be as effective as you need them to be. For instance, a quality flexion unit may provide up to a 30% reduction in stiffness and pain. If you do not use the full potential of such a device, then it will not be able to completely relieve your symptoms. However, if you use a high quality product with proper guidance and regular use, it is expected to help reduce neck pain and stiffness.
Cervical traction units are recommended for anyone who experiences neck pain and stiffness. They should only be used on soft surfaces, including a pillow or bed. And in the most extreme cases, they may be used on the spine itself. For best results, your physician will recommend the use of a chiropractic traction device.