Traction is the controlled stretching, lengthening and realignment of the spine. a Using moderate pressure, traction pulls the vertebrae of the spine up and apart, to increase space between them, help relieve direct nerve pressure and reduce stress on the vertebral discs.

Cervical, or upper back traction is a common nonsurgical treatment for a herniated disc in the neck that relieves pain by opening up the cervical foramen to reduce pressure on the compressed nerve roots exiting the spinal canal.

  • Traction must be prescribed by a spine specialist and performed by (or with the detailed, at-home instruction of) a licensed physical therapist
  • Traction can either be applied manually, using the fingers to pull up from the base of the neck, or by spinal traction devices
  • Traction is more useful for neck conditions than for lower back pain.