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At A Glance

  • Traction reverses the effects of gravity, stretching the back muscles and pulling degenerative intervertebral discs apart.
  • One of the best forms of traction therapy is simply hanging in the deep end of a pool wearing a life vest or other appropriate flotation device.
  • Advocates claim 65-70 percent good to excellent results as an alternative to spine surgery.
  • Traction treats Degenerative Disc Disease, Spondylolisthesis, Facet Arthritis and Spinal Stenosis.


Once an instrument of torture, the “medieval rack” has evolved into a popular tool for to treat back pain, scoliosis, and spine fractures. Traction is one of the oldest forms of back-pain treatment.

The theory of traction is that it unloads the spinal joints and disc spaces and re-establishes height and proper alignment of the spine.

Today, computerized machines and treatment programs deliver traction therapy or non-surgical spinal decompression to the back and neck. Examples: the DRX9000, SpineMED System, AccuSpina, and the Vax-D System, to name a few.

Advocates claim 65- to 70-percent good to excellent results as an alternative to spine surgery. However, repeat treatments may be necessary if symptoms return. In addition, these treatments must be delivered by a doctor and usually require 15 to 20 sessions.

Inversion tables and frames can be useful in home self-treatment. These devices place individuals upside-down in order to reverse the effect of gravity and apply natural traction to the spine.

Patients with glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach reflux, stroke or TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, a loss of blood flow to the head or spinal cord), or a history of migraine headaches should consult a doctor prior to inversion therapy, as these conditions may be aggravated.

Also, patients in the advanced stages of facet arthritis and degenerative disc disease should not use traction, as the spine is essentially stiff and naturally fused and will not move or open up. In some of these cases, traction may actually worsen pain.

Hanging in the deep end of a pool with a life or jet-ski vest is also very effective form of traction. Letting gravity work naturally, traction to our spine and joints is achieved, is very safe, and feels great! Plus, you can exercise in the water while you are in traction.


Frequently Asked Questions

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