As the body’s central support structure in the musculoskeletal system, the spine ensures that the body can do everything without feeling discomfort or pain. The spine has three sections in an S-shaped curve known as the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. Each section helps keep the body upright and is composed of ligaments, soft tissue muscles, and nerve roots spread out all over the back. The spine and sections suffer the most from neck or back pain when the back becomes injured. When this happens, non-surgical treatments can help alleviate the painful symptoms and cause relief for many individuals. Today’s article gives an overview of lumbar traction therapy, how it can help with low back pain, and how it differs from decompression therapy. By referring patients to qualified and skilled providers specializing in spinal decompression therapy. To that end, and when appropriate, we advise our patients to refer to our associated medical providers based on their examination. We find that education is the key to asking valuable questions to our providers. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer
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What Is Lumbar Traction Therapy?
Feeling your muscles become stiff on your lower back? Does your back hurt after picking up something heavy? How about a mild ache on your lower back that won’t disappear? Why not try lumbar traction therapy to alleviate these symptoms. Research studies have mentioned that lumbar traction has been used to alleviate symptoms of low back pain. What lumbar traction therapy does is that it allows the extension of soft tissue muscles that are around the facet joints while decreasing the pressure off the intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine. This allows the anterior and posterior ligaments to be extended while stretching and relaxing the muscle to stop them from spasming, improving blood circulation around the spine. Other research studies have found that lumbar traction has helped reduce the pain intensity and disability for many individuals suffering from chronic low back pain. Traction therapy gently relieves the pressure off the spine and helps bring the nutrients back to the spinal discs to promote relief to the individual.
How Does It Help With Low Back Pain?
Since chronic low back pain is common worldwide, many individuals try to alleviate low back pain without going to surgery. Some will try medication to reduce severe pain; others will do light physical activities like yoga or meditation to stretch out the tense muscles. Traction therapy can help alleviate low pain symptoms and prevent other chronic conditions from progressing even further. Research studies have stated that traction therapy can help increase the spinal disc height and reduce internal pressure. This allows the irritated pain-sensitive fibers around the outer layer of the spinal discs to relax and relieve the spinal joints to be put back into normal position. Fortunately, traction therapy and even decompression therapy for low back pain can work together with other non-surgical treatments to help decompress the spine and lower the effects of chronic low back pain.
Lumbar Traction Overview-Video
Feeling mild to severe pain in your lower back? How about tenderness on certain parts of your back? Do your muscles ache and become stiff when carrying or lifting heavy items? Suffering from low back pain can hinder your daily activities and make you feel miserable. Like the video above, utilizing lumbar traction therapy can help relax the back muscles and provide relief to the compressed spinal discs that are pressing on the nerve roots. Traction therapy is a non-surgical treatment that allows individuals to lay down on a traction machine and be strapped in. The traction machine begins to slowly pull on the spine, causing the intervertebral disc to increase its height in the spine and any nerve roots that were being irritated to stop sending pain signals to and from the brain. Suppose you want to learn more about lumbar traction and how it can benefit you? In that case, this link will explain what traction does for the lumbar area in the spine and provide relief to the back.
How Is Traction Different Than Decompression?
Research studies show that lumbar traction therapy immediately improved the pain and functional status of many individuals suffering from chronic low back pain. Since traction therapy help with chronic low back pain, how is it different when individuals use decompression therapy? Traction therapy is performed mechanically or manually to help widen the spaces between the spinal vertebrae. In contrast, decompression therapy helps relieve the pressure of irritated nerve roots that are causing pain along the spinal column. Research studies have found that decompression uses negative pressure to reduce spinal disc protrusion and intradiscal stress off the spinal nerve roots. Traction and decompression therapy have one thing in common: relieve pressure off the spine and alleviate low back pain. These two therapies can also be combined with physical therapy that allows the individual to reduce the stress of the nerve roots and strengthen the back muscle tissues. Incorporating traction or decompression therapy will benefit anyone on their wellness journey by providing relief to chronic low back pain.
Therefore, as part of the musculoskeletal system, the spine can be injured in various scenarios that cause low back pain. Incorporating lumbar traction therapy can help alleviate low back pain either manually or mechanically, stretching the spine to help widen the spaces in the spinal column to relieve compressed spinal discs and loosen up the stiff back muscle to promote blood circulation to the back. Since decompression and traction are different forms of therapy, they do have something in common when it comes to low back pain: to relieve the symptoms of the individual. Once people start incorporating traction therapy as part of their journey to a healthy lifestyle, they can feel relieved and become pain-free from chronic low back pain.
Borman, Pinar, et al. “The Efficacy of Lumbar Traction in the Management of Patients with Low Back Pain.” Rheumatology International, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2003, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12634941/.
Koçak, Fatmanur Aybala, et al. “Comparison of the Short-Term Effects of the Conventional Motorized Traction with Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Performed with a DRX9000 Device on Pain, Functionality, Depression, and Quality of Life in Patients with Low Back Pain Associated with Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Single-Blind Randomized-Controlled Trial.” Turkish Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Bayç?nar Medical Publishing, 16 Feb. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6709608/.
Oh, Hyunju, et al. “The Impact of Manual Spinal Traction Therapy on the Pain and Oswestry Disability Index of Patients with Chronic Back Pain.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, The Society of Physical Therapy Science, Dec. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279706/.
Tadano, Shigeru, et al. “Lumbar Mechanical Traction: A Biomechanical Assessment of Change at the Lumbar Spine.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, BioMed Central, 9 Apr. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6454715/.
Tanabe;Akai M;Doi T;Arai S;Fujino K;Hayashi K; ;, Hideki. “Immediate Effect of Mechanical Lumbar Traction in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Crossover, Repeated Measures, Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Orthopaedic Science: Official Journal of the Japanese Orthopaedic Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Mar. 2021, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33785233/.
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The information herein on "An Overview of Lumbar Traction Therapy" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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