Cervical Traction Device Study: A Basic Evaluation of Home-Use Supine Cervical Traction Devices
JNMS:Journal of the Neuromusculoskeletal System, Vol.3, No2
Patrick P Venditti, D.C.,* Logan College of Chiropractic, Chesterfield, Missouri, Anthony L. Rosner, PhD.,* Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research Arlington, Virginia, Norman Kettner, D.C., DACBR,* and Gary Sanders, PhD., Logan College of Chiropractic, Chesterfield, Missouri
THE DIFFERENCE IN the mechanical separation exerted upon the cervical spine by five home-use supine cervical traction devices was studied. In addition, surface EMGs recording the activity of the posterior cervical and masseter musculature were taken on five subjects during use of each of the five devices. Subject surveys were performed with 30 additional subjects after each had been placed in each of the traction devices for a period of 10 minutes. This was performed to determine how the devices were perceived by users in terms of convenience, ease of instruction, setup, and comfort.
Two supine lateral cervical views were taken of each of five subjects during testing of each of the five devices. One view was done in a neutral position, the second view was done while the subject was in the respective device after a 10-minute traction period. Radiographs were then digitized into a IBM 386 computer and analyzed using a special software program called "Spinal-HealthData" from Health Data Development. A Verimed Myo III computerized, hand-held, dual-channel, surface recording EMG instrument was utilized to record the muscle activity during traction.
The authors conclude that all the devices tested were capable of distracting the cervical spine, attaining greater separation at the posterior disc height than the anterior. From the results obtained, it was not possible to draw conclusive evidence that the traction devices have the ability to relax the muscles. Their primary feature appears to be mechanical and that is to separate the joint surfaces. Based upon the survey results, it appears that the Pronex device is the clear choice among the subjects tested. It scored favorably above all the other devices. However, the C-Tract by Granberg, the Cervitrak by Staodyn, and the Necktrac by Lossing Orthopedic were rated fairly close to each other. The Pettibon device was clearly the least favored of the devices among the subjects tested.
(JNMS:Journal of the Neuromusculoskeletal System 3:82-91,1995)
For decades, cervical traction has been applied widely
for pain relief of neck muscle spasm or nerve root com-
pression (1-8). Some authors believe that traction, espe-
cially with a slight degree of neck flexion, could open the
posterior articulations, widen the intervertebral foramen,
disengage the facet surface, and elongate the posterior mus-
cular tissues and ligaments (2,4,6,8). It is a technique in
which a force is applied to a part of the body to stretch soft
tissues, to separate joint surfaces or bony structures. Betge
and So (9) demonstrated from their study that traction has
a definite effect on the cervical spine. Traction separates the
vertebral motor units, anteflexes the segmental alignment of
vertebral segments, and decreases the physiological lordotic
curvature. Cyriax ( 10) states that traction must be constant
so that the muscles may tire and the strain fall on the joints.
He further states that it takes 2 minutes of sustained traction
before the intervertebral spaces begin to widen.
Although there has been a wealth of literature supporting
the use of cervical traction, there have been no descriptive
studies of the different traction products on the market.
Many of these products are sold to health-care practitioners
to be re-sold to patients for home use. The purpose of this
study was to provide answers to three basic questions: First,
do each of the products indeed provide separation of the
vertebral segments? Second, do the devices allow for relax-
ation of the muscles around the temporomandibular joint
and the posterior cervical region? And, last, how are the
devices perceived by users in terms of convenience, ease of
instruction, setup, and comfort? The study did not attempt
to determine the clinical efficacy of the devices, but rather
dealt with relatively simple and basic issues.
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