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How to Choose a Neck Traction Device for Pain Relief

Updated on June 13, 2018

You Can Easily Do A Neck Traction Protocol at Home

Often times patients start doing neck traction in the Physical therapist or chiropractors office, they can continue to do it at home.
Often times patients start doing neck traction in the Physical therapist or chiropractors office, they can continue to do it at home. | Source

So many neck traction devices to choose from...where to start?

Just like neck pillows, or mattresses there are many neck traction devices that you can choose. You can get the old school over the door neck traction type. Believe it or not, many orthopedic doctors still recommend this. This look truly archaic but they are effective at giving your neck a good stretch. You can get ones that are a lot fancier these days as well. Ones that stretch your cervical spine while you are sitting, and others where you are laying down. You want to choose the one that is most comfortable for you and ultimately the most effective.

Many patients will think that they can only do neck traction at home. That is not the case. Even if you do neck traction at your doctor's office, or at physical therapy - it is wise to continue doing it at home as well because you can sustain maximum benefit.

One tip is to start out very slowly with cervical traction. Don't run out and buy a traction unit. Use a towel roll first. This costs you nothing and is very easy to do at home. You will see what it feels like to do neck traction and you can get comfortable with it.

Start with this Kind of Neck Stretching - It costs nothing and it is very comfortable and safe

The Old School Neck Traction: Over the door neck traction

This type of neck traction is the oldest one around and many patients look at it and think "ouch". Basically the patient wears a chin strap around the chin and jaw area which is connected to a counter weight (weights or water bag) and that is attached to a pulley system. It stretches your spine effectively in a linear direction (up and down). Usually, you will get no more than 20 pounds of pressure with this type of traction unit. Interestingly enough, many orthopedic doctors recommend this unit first to their patients. It may look pretty archaic, but it works. Its definitely one way to stretch your neck.

How often do patients do some form of neck traction at home?

Did you do any course of neck traction at home, on your own?

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Laying Down to Do Neck Traction: Very Comfortable

This is the neck traction that I would recommend to any of my patients. Why? Because its the most comfortable and healthy for your neck. The unit i often recommend is called the arc4life posture pump 1000. Two major reasons why:

  1. It stretches your spine
  2. it reinforces the "C" curve in your spine
  3. it is comfortable form of neck stretching
  4. no jaw involvement when you do the cervical traction
  5. no headaches
  6. you can fully relax
  7. you can control how much neck stretching you are doing
  8. it is easy to put on and take off
  9. not cumbersome

Two More Costly traction units that are often prescribed by your therapist

Now i want to discuss two traction units that are popular but also very expensive. The Pronex pneumatic traction unit and the Saunders Neck Traction Unit Deluxe. Both are often over $500.00.

For both you lay down to stretch your neck. Both of these units also flexes your head forward which makes neck traction very comfortable. With the Saunders, the flexion is buit into the machine and with the pronex, there is a special incline that you put underneath the unit that flexes your head forward.

With both of these units you can get more pounds of force. More PSI if you will. With the Saunders neck traction unit, you can get up to 50 pounds of force.

As an added bonus, both the pronex and the saunders traction unit come with a carrying case.

For both units you simple pump the bulb and you have more neck traction. Very comfortable, similar to a clinical setting, but you can do the traction at home.

Sitting up to Do Neck Traction: Very Convenient

The trac collar is a sitting up traction unit that is often popular with patients. Its just more convenient. Basically, imagine a neck collar that you can inflate (both on the right side and the left side). There is a pump on each side and you simple pump up the unit for as much traction as you need.

Keep in mind, this is going to be linear (up and down) neck traction. If you are looking to build the C curve in your neck, this is not the neck traction that I would recommend.

How to Use the Pronex Pneumatic Traction Device

Ways for Making Neck Traction (supine) More Comfortable

When doing neck traction supine (laying down), you can make it more comfortable by placing a positioning wedge under your knees. This will take pressure off the lower back and you can lay on your back very comfortably. Also, take off your glasses and earrings as well.

Reasons for Doing Neck Traction: Not Just For PAIN

You might be surprised to learn that neck traction is not just for pain. Many patients also do neck traction ( a very specific type mind you) to get the proper c curve in their neck.

In general most patients do neck traction for pain and other symptoms: numbness and tingling, weakness, change of sensation, decrease in neck range of motion. Neck traction can help with these symptoms for sure.


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