If you are experiencing bouts of back pain, finding relief can seem impossible. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine estimates that eight of 10 adults will experience lower-back pain at least once in their lives. Aside from the discomfort back pain will cause you, the NCCAM estimates Americans suffer $100 billion in lost wages every year due to back pain. Many back pain victims have found traction stretches to be very effective for pain relief. Traction involves pulling on your back to lengthen the spine and relieve disk pain.
Lower-back pain can arise from a number of different causes. Sprains, muscle strains, bulging or ruptured disks, arthritis, skeletal irregularities and osteoporosis are all major causes of back pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you experience back pain, see your doctor as soon as possible. If an X-ray or MRI is necessary, your doctor will be able to provide those services. If you are referred to a physical therapist or chiropractor, ask for tips on how to avoid future injury and if traction stretches is an appropriate treatment.
The scientific journal вЂњClinical Orthopaedics and Related ResearchвЂќ considers traction a proven method for the treatment of disk and joint dysfunctions. Traction involves pulling on one area of the body to stretch and separate it from another area of the body. If you have ever jammed one of your fingers and immediately pulled on it to relieve pain, you have administered traction to yourself. Your lumbar spine is much more complex than your finger, but it is possible to administer the exact same modality to virtually every joint in your body.
The medical equipment industry has manufactured many devices to aid you in administering your own traction at home. These devices range from very simple and fairly inexpensive to very complex and expensive. The device True Back is a curved apparatus designed for you to lie on, allowing the curve to decompress and stretch the joints of your spine (See Reference 5). The True Back is very simple to use and retails for $69.95. Other devices such as the pneumatic Saunders Lumbar Home Trac are significantly more expensive - around $500 - and much more detailed (See Reference 6). This device provides incremental amounts of traction up to 200 pounds.
If you would rather not buy a home traction device, there are ways to traction yourself at home using household equipment. Tommy Hoffman, an experienced physical therapist, recommends one method which involves lying on the floor with your feet supported by a chair or sofa. Your knees and hips should be at 90 degrees. Gently push against your thighs with your hands; you should feel light separation in your lumbar spine. Hoffman recommends holding this traction for two minutes, then rest and repeat up to five times.
Warnings & Tips
Always consult your doctor first if you are experiencing back pain. Do not try home traction techniques before consulting your doctor and any other medical professional your doctor recommends. Traction can be very effective for pain relief, but it is not right for everyone. A qualified medical professional will be able to tell you if traction is right for you. If you are cleared to use home traction techniques, start with very light pressure. Find your body's tolerance and progress very slowly in order to avoid further injury.