The efficacy of intermittent cervical traction in patents with chronic neck pain
Previous studies about the usefulness of traction therapy have concluded with conflicting results. The aim of this study was to examine efficacy of neck traction in chronic neck pain. Forty-two patients with at least 6 weeks of nonspecific neck pain were selected for the study. Data about demographic characteristics including age, sex, body mass index, duration of cervical pain, working status, smoking status, and regular exercise were recorded. Each patient was randomly assigned to Group 1-receiving only standard physical therapy including hot pack, ultrasound therapy and exercise program and Group 2-treated with traction therapy in addition to standard physical therapy. The patients were reevaluated at the end of the therapy. The main outcome measures of the treatment were pain intensity by visual analog scale (VAS), disability by neck disability index, and quality of life assessed by Nottingham Health Profile (NHP). Twenty-four female and 18 male patients with mean age of 48.2 +/- 11.5 years and a mean disease duration of 4.3 +/- 2.9 years were included to the study. There were no differences between the groups in terms of age, sex, pain intensity, and scores of NHP and NDI at entry. There were 21 patients in both groups. Both groups improved significantly in pain intensity and the scores of NDI and physical subscles of NHP at the end of the therapies (p < 0.05). There was an association between neck disability index and VAS pain scores in both groups (p < 0.05). No correlation was observed between clinical variables and age and duration of disease. In conclusion, no specific effect of traction over standard physiotherapeutic interventions was observed in adults with chronic neck pain. We suggest the clinicians to consider this condition and to focus on exercise therapy in the management of patients suffering from this condition.
When patient selection is appropriate, neck traction can be effective especially with radicular complaints of radiating neck pain. Static neck traction products like the TracCollar are popular. There is a comprehensive list of literature relating to neck traction with positive results.