Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Do You Need Traction?

I recently had someone ask me if I thought it'd be worth it for them to purchase their own traction table for at home.

I've also talked to clients who said that they previous paid their last clinic for weekly traction - and almost no other treatment. Sometimes, the timeline went all the way up to nine months! Did this form of treatment help them to resolve their back pain?

Mmm...kinda.

Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

Mechanics

Traction can definitely help to relieve back pain. Is it going to cure it for good, however? Will it correct the mechanics that caused the pain? Likely not.

There are a number of ailments that can afflict the spine. For example, a disc bulge may be pressing on a nerve root. Arthritis may be developing between the vertebrae. There could even simply be a strain to one of the muscles supporting the spine. Any number of things.



Now, traction can be a fantastic tool for relieving the pain experienced by these conditions. Decompressing the spine would relieve how much the disc bulge is pushed on the nerve root. Arthritic changes inside the joint would become spaced apart and less agitated. Traction is even reported to alleviate muscle spasm.

So yes, spacing the vertebral joints apart can absolutely relieve symptoms of a myriad of back issues. However, has this done anything to correct the problem that caused those symptoms in the first place? Of course not. You haven't actually changed anything within the joints.

Spinal Rehab

Recovery from spinal conditions involves restrengthening of muscles, retraining proper motor habits, and stabilizing the joints to prevent future recurrence. True, traction is a great in helping to relieve pain just long enough to be able to move oneself through the recovery stages, but if the posture and biomechanics are not addressed, then recovery will not occur.

That being said, it should be important to know that, firstly, you need much more than traction to fix your back. Other aspects need to be considered. Secondly, once we address the roots of the pain and correct for them, there should be no reason why month upon month of traction is ever necessary. By moving through a proper rehabilitation routine, more results will be achieved in shorter time. In fact, research shows that traction is most effective in treating short-term, acute injuries.

In brief, traction is not a one-shot magic bullet. It's simply more of a painkiller. A painkiller that takes fifteen minutes to swallow while you're hanging upside down. Once in a while, it's worth it, but like morphine, don't abuse it. (For your wallet's sake.)

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