Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Traction for low back pain: Good or Bad?

Low back pain is always an interesting topic and a topic that every athlete and weekend warrior should know a little about. Needless to say, every clinician should know A LOT about this topic. One thing that many clinicians use and many athletes have undergone is the tool of mechanical traction.

Mechanical traction is the use of a table or instrument to elongate the tissue at a particular level. Usually the basis is to open up the disc space and take pressure off a particular nerve root. So is this a good thing? Well like all "tools" it depends!

Usually there will be one side that you will find painful. If it feels better to lean away from the painful side, this is usually indicative that the injured rootlet is above the protrusion. This scenario traction is not recommended and will make your situation worse. On the other hand If you lean towards the painful side, this usually means your injured rootlet is below the protrusion and traction may very well help.

So before you seek or use traction, test yourself or your patient, with these simple steps and you may be able to really help or at least keep from making the situation worse.

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