Spinal traction is a modality (treatment activity) sometimes given by physical therapists, chiropractors and other spine specialists to their patients. The purpose of traction is to apply a force that draws two adjacent bones away from each other in order to make more room between them. Traction also stretches the soft tissue that surrounds the joint.
Traction can be given manually, by means of a device or via positioning.
The most common areas of the spine to receive this treatment are the neck (cervical traction) and the low back (lumbar traction.)
Traction is given to people with low back pain and neck pain for relief of symptoms, including radicular symptoms. (Radicular symptoms are generally felt as pain, weakness, numbness and/or electrical feelings that go down one leg or one arm, and are caused by irritation to one or more spinal nerve roots.)