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a man laying down in a traction device



How does traction work?

Traction works by using decompression therapy to help relieve pressure on the spine. Spinal traction helps stretch the spine in order to help remove pressure from compressed discs. This helps straighten the spine and improves the ability for the body to heal itself. Traction can be administered mechanically or manually depending on your needs.

What other names might this go by?

Lumbar Traction, Decompression Therapy

What to expect

In manual spinal traction, a physical therapist uses their hands to apply manual force on muscles and joints. In mechanical traction, you will lie on a table that stretches the spine. The table will have tools like slings and pulleys to help relieve pressure. This technique is performed for a small subset of individuals who meet evidence-based criteria, and is not widely successful for some forms of chronic pain.

Potential Risks

No long-term risks are known, but traction is known to cause short-term muscle spasms. Physical therapists should be prepared for this to occur during or after therapy.


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