Cervical Traction for Neck Pain: Benefits & Exercises


The count of desk-bound jobs is on a constant rise across the world. The number is directly proportional to the chance of chronic or prolonged neck and back pain. Due to this, neck pain has become the most common source of musculoskeletal disability. According to the study, 34% of the population suffers from chronic neck pain at some point in their life. Out of this ratio, about 14% have symptoms of musculoskeletal disability which last longer than half of the month.

Cervical Traction:

Traction of the spine is a popular treatment for neck pain and related injuries. This treatment eliminates compression and creates an expansion in the neck. It is an alternative treatment to relieve from neck pain. It is a kind of physical therapy treatment instead of medication or surgery.

The Cervical Traction devices or units reduce neck pain by lightly stretching the neck part. This pulls away or separates the vertebrae thus reducing the pressure in the spinal cord. It acts quickly to relieve from acute or chronic neck pains, giving instant relief.

What Does Cervical Traction Do?

This alternative treatment is highly effective and used for various purposes. It has a wide range of uses like:

  • Help muscle and joint stretching around the neck
  • Help decrease compression and related forces in the neck
  • Help reduce the pressure of the discs residing between spinal bones in the neck
  • Help relieve pressure from the compressed nerve and promote muscle relaxation
  • Help open up the spaces near the spinal canal

Cervical Traction not only benefits from common diagnoses but also from:

  • Neck arthritis
  • Herniated discs in the neck
  • Cervical muscle spasms
  • Neck strains

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, first visit your Psychotherapy or consult your doctor to check whether Cervical traction is the right one for you.

How is Cervical Traction Applied?

There are many ways to apply cervical traction on the neck. Before you start with this, make sure you consult your physical therapist.

Over-the-Door Traction: You can perform this while sitting relaxed in a chair at your home. It involves putting a harness to your neck and head. Take a harness and attach it to a rope which is strung through a man-made pulley system over your door. To create a traction force, use a sandbag, water bag or weights. Attach any of these to the other end of the rope.

Manual Cervical Traction: Physical therapists treat chronic neck pain and related injuries with this treatment. During this treatment, the therapist holds head and neck in hands to provide a traction force to your neck. This way pulling and resting is repeated in a periodical manner up to 10 seconds with each position.

Mechanical Cervical Traction: This is quite similar to the over-the-door traction. Here a harness is attached while you’re lying down your back. The harness is attached to a machine that creates a traction force. The machine has a control panel to change the amount of traction to be applied to the neck.

In ideal scenarios, when starting with traction on the neck, always use a pulling force of about 20 pounds. Continue this for about 10 to 20 seconds and then release it gently. If you find relief slowly, increase the weight of the pulling forces and the time limit.

Repeat this rhythmic pulling and releasing for some time throughout the day. Make sure you do this under the supervision of your physical therapist or professional trainer. He/She will advise you the weight limits and time as per the criticality of your condition.

If the symptoms still prevail, consult your physical therapist or doctor immediately. He can suggest you an alternative treatment for better relief. She/he can also make some adjustments to your ongoing treatment.

Can I Do Cervical Traction at Home?

You can apply traction to your neck even at home. The Over-the-door traction unit is easily available at most of the medical stores and online. This can be beneficial in learning about what amount of force or traction you should use under what conditions.

If mechanical traction benefits you from neck pain, you can purchase the smaller traction units available for home use. However, they are easier to use and less cumbersome. Talk to your therapist, and he might help you purchase the unit favorable to you in terms of benefit and cost.

Note: Always consult a professional trainer or physical therapist before performing cervical traction. Otherwise, you might injure your head and neck or worsen your health condition.


Cervical Traction can be one of the favorable treatments for neck pain. It benefits from injuries and associated neck conditions. It can treat conditions like herniation, disc bulges, and arthritis. Always remember, it depends on an individual and the criticality of the condition. So, the treatment and healing time may vary from one individual to another.

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