Cervical Traction, also commonly called neck traction, is considered to be the best prescription-free, non-surgical method to reduce or eliminate neck pain that is caused by a number things, including herniated or bulging discs, arthritis, neck strains, and muscle problems. It is used to treat both chronic and long-term neck pain, as well as pain caused by trauma (injury).
In the past it was necessary to visit a physical therapist for your traction needs, but now it can be done just as safely from home! But first, you’ll need to know how traction works, and which device is the one for you!
How does neck traction work?
There are two options when considering cervical traction- manual and mechanical. Manual Cervical Traction is the type a physical therapist provides, and mechanical is the type you are able to perform at home using the proper equipment- both work in the same way.
Essentially, gentle tension is placed on the subject’s head while it pulls it upwards, allowing the ligaments and muscles in the neck to stretch, creating space between the vertebrae and relieving pressure placed on the discs. This method, in many patients, provides quick relief and a much faster recovery time.
In relieving pressure, it also allows for an increase in blood flow and better circulation to the cervical spine, this also help to bring oxygen to the stressed muscles and tendons.
With cervical traction, as with most methods of muscle stretching, causes some discomfort at first however over time with regular use that should subside and you should begin to feel the relief that you seek!
Below you will find reviews on some of the best products in the Cervical Traction industry!
Saunders Cervical Traction Device
For more than four decades practitioners have chosen Saunders Traction devices for use in their clinics, and now they have provided an effective and comparable device for use in the comfort of your own home!
The Saunders Cervical Traction Device is designed for comfort and ease of use, while still being wonderfully effective. It is far superior to some similar products in that it offers ease of use and safety features that are not standard across the product line.
One such feature is the easy to read gauge, allowing an accurate reading and total control over the force at all times. The blow-off valve is also a great safety feature on this particular device, limiting the amount of force that can be used to what is considered a safe range. The traction can also be released instantly, and by the patient themselves, if necessary.
The traction forces in this model are placed to the back of the head (occiput), avoiding uncomfortable compression of the TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint), or jaw joints, which is a very common problem among users of other traction devices.
The more comfortable position used by this device (it is used while laying down, and has custom inline options) has proven to be superior to more traditionally used sitting (door frame) devices.
The Saunders device also offers adjustable fittings to ensure a proper and comfortable fit of the neck wedges; it also utilizes a snap-fit design on the pump, making it very simple.
The device is also very simple to put on and operate, from the easy to put on forehead strap to the simplicity of the adjustment knobs. Set-up takes only moments from the moment you open the box, to the minute it is ready to use. The simplicity of this design also allows to patient to use it without assistance, a need for many.
The design of this device is modeled after those treatments used in clinical environments, promoting proper and consistent treatment. The device also offers a wide range of positioning alternatives allowing a plethora of treatment options.
The comparably small size of this device also makes it very portable, and it can be used anywhere, it even includes its own carrying case! The headrest is made from black vinyl, making the device very easy to clean.
This particular product is a proven and effective method to avoid surgery in many cases!
The only drawback found on this product is the price, however while it seems like a high price tag, it is minimal when compared to in-clinic alternative treatments!
It should also be noted that although the product can apply up to 50 lbs, that is far more than is necessary in most cases. As with any clinical device, this item should be used under the direction of your practitioner, who will also be able to suggest the amount of tension that you should use in the beginning, and as you move forward with your treatments.
ComforTrac Cervical Traction Unit
Another device that also provides treatment very similar to that which you would receive in a clinical environment at your physiotherapist’s office is the ComforTrac Cervical Traction Unit. In fact, they are used in many physiotherapy offices, and recommended strongly by them overall.
However, physiotherapy is not an option for everyone for various reasons such as cost and scheduling conflicts, and luckily for those people the ComforTrac provides the same level of treatment in your own home. It has also been proven that, for some, it can be an effective alternative to surgical solution.
A few of the key features of this device will be outlined in this review, beginning with the customization options. The headrests on either side are easily adjustable to obtain a perfect fit using the clips on the back of the device (they are also removable for cleaning), and the incline angle is also adjustable in three variations of ten, fifteen, and twenty degree angles.
The headrest itself is designed for comfort as it crafted from memory foam! The memory foam is covered by synthetic leather to make cleaning easy.
The hand pump provides easy customization of your treatment as well, and the amount of traction is displayed in both pounds and kilograms, making it universally easy to read. To adjust the level of traction you simply pump and twist the handpiece. The traction can be increased or decreased slowly, up to fifty pounds depending on the individual’s needs, and can be released for safety or comfort instantly by pressing the quick-release button.
This device also places the majority of the pressure on the back of the head to avoid uncomfortable and often painful pressure being placed on the TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) in your jaw, as is seen with more traditional door frame traction devices.
Set-up for this device takes only a moment, and because of it’s simple to use design most patients are able to position themselves into the unit without assistance. It is also light and portable, and when purchased includes it’s own duffle carrying case.
ComforTrac is so confident in their devices, and in the belief that you will be too, that they offer a three year manufacturer’s warranty! It also includes an in-depth instructional video that has proven to be very helpful for first-time users.
The drawbacks to this device:
If you have a thicker neck, this may not be the product for you as the adjustable fit is not made to accommodate and it therefore may be uncomfortable.
The price is also a major factor at play here, although very well-made the product is quite expensive. However, the price is much lower in comparison to traditional regular in-office visits.
As always, this treatment alternative should only be used under the direct instruction of your practitioner, who will be able to give you specific instructions on how to use the device effectively without causing further harm. They will be able to guide you in the suggested length of treatment as well as the specific amount of pressure that should be used initially and throughout your treatments.
ComforTrac Cervical Traction Unit- New Model
Very similar to the ComforTrac Cervical Traction Unit described above, with only a few distinctive features. This product is also commonly used in in-office physiotherapy options, and also comes highly recommended for home use by professionals in the field.
General customization options remained essentially the same between the new model and its predecessor, the neck wedges (headrests) are individually adjustable, allowing the distance and angle to be changed. The angle of the device itself is also customizable in increments of ten, fifteen and twenty degrees. The headrest is once again made from a memory foam base covered by synthetic leather, that coupled with the fact that the headrests are removable make the device very easy to clean.
This device, like the others mentioned above, avoids the pressure that was before routinely placed on the TMJ (jaw), and places it on the Occiput (back of the head) instead which is far less uncomfortable. The fact that this device is used in a lying down position makes it far more comfortable than over the door models which were used in a seated position, restricting the body’s ability to relax and therefore hindering the treatment,
It is also a device that most can use independently and without assistance as it is very simple to position yourself into and self-control the treatment process. Setting up the device is also a quick and easy process, requiring no technical experience. They also kept one of the best selling features of this device- it’s lightweight and portable design, as well as the well-built and included carrying case.
Again, another great feature with this device is the warranty- it truly shows the confidence that the company has in their own product!
The main advantages that this device has over its older counterpart are:
* They seem to have at least somewhat resolved the wide neck issue, making the neck wedges slightly more adjustable than they were previously. This product can achieve the perfect fit for nearly anyone!
* They have further simplified the already simple pump design. Instead of the previous pump and twist design to adjust the tension, the pump is now self-locking, removing the need to twist the device after each adjustment.
The drawbacks for this device:
* As always, the unit is fairly expensive by some standards, however less so than many options and alternatives.
In summary, each of these devices come with high reviews, and highly recommended by many healthcare professionals and practitioners alike. They are all fairly similar, each with their own set of small differences to set them apart from the rest.
They all operate on the same principal and methods, using traction to pull the head up and away from the neck creating the space needed for proper circulation and oxygenation, both necessary for the healing process to take place.
The main features of each device remain the same, so the choice comes down to the minor details. Would you prefer a vinyl pillow like headrest, or a memory foam headrest covered in synthetic leather, for example.
Price is a bit of a differentiating factor as well, although in a very small degree. All of the devices hit a similar price point, within just a few dollars of the others. While these prices may seem steep for some, they pale in comparison to the thousands many may have spent otherwise on physiotherapy treatments in-office. After all, can you really place a price on the degree of relief these devices and treatments provide?
All of the devices also have the same tension capacity of fifty pounds at maximum, far more than is typically necessary. Because of that, and the nature of the device in general, it must be stressed that these treatments can only beneficial if first discussed with your practitioner!
In closing, regardless of which option you feel would best suit your needs, and regardless of what factors influenced your decision, it can be said with confidence that any of these devices we have discussed will provide relief, and can be a viable alternative to medical and surgical options for many sufferers of neck pain, both chronic and otherwise.