Compare and Contrast: Mechanical vs. Manual Cervical Traction

Traction is a crucial approach to spinal adjustment, especially in cases of disc or nerve compression. It enables a chiropractor to alleviate the stress that may otherwise lead to myriad disc problems, such as herniation, rupture, or displacement. And, for chiropractors specializing in Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP), traction is also a key element in mirror image adjustment.

Traction is an umbrella term. The concepts of static positioning and inverse force may apply to all forms of traction, but the application itself can vary drastically. Case in point: mechanical vs. manual cervical traction. The methodologies are different, but the results are invariably the same. Their use is dependent on a case-by-case basis and the oversight of the chiropractor making adjustments.

Ideal Spine utilizes both mechanical and manual traction across varied approaches. The key to choosing the right traction application is derived from a keen understanding of each methods strengths, dependent on the patient.

Characterizing traction approach

The characterizing difference between mechanical and manual traction is a simple one. Mechanical traction is aided and directed by the use of simple machines (weights, pulleys), while manual traction is chiropractor-assisted.

During mechanical traction, a patient’s head is cradled into a sling, which is then positioned at the optimal position to affect adjustment. Then, the sling is counterweighted to hold the head and neck in that specific position, leveraging mechanical pressure to affect change.

Manual traction involves the patient lying down in a table, with the chiropractor actively pulling the head away from the neck to decompress the cervical spine. The adjustment may be a continuous pull, or a series of low-velocity pulls in different directions, depending on the nature of the adjustment.

Contrasting methodologies

The end results of mechanical and manual traction may be similar, but both applications afford chiropractors different benefits based on the individual patient they’re working on.

Mechanical traction is a hands-free approach to decompression that affords chiropractors the time and focus they need when working with complex cases. This method of traction is also more applicable for severe cases, where traction may last for 20-30 minutes. Finally, mechanical traction is also helpful when teaching patients posturing.

Manual traction’s benefits are derived from the control a chiropractor has over the application at all times. Because they’re manually pulling, the chiropractor can increase or decrease the countering force, as well as position themselves at will. The hands-on approach also enables chiropractors to feel the status of the cervical spine in real time, to understand the effects of their traction on the patient.

Leveraging the proper form of traction

Traction’s overall ability to decompress the cervical spine makes it a valuable approach to treating a number of cervical conditions. The exact nature of the condition and patient may dictate mechanical vs. manual traction, along with the preference of the chiropractor. It’s also worth noting that these two forms of traction are not merely binary options – they may both be leveraged to affect change during a CBP adjustment schedule.

Ideal Spine is committed to leveraging the best possible approach for spinal correction across every patient. Mechanical and manual traction are just two adjustment modalities. Understanding what makes them different and where they’re best utilized is what gives CBP-trained chiropractors the edge when affecting real, positive change in patients.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See for providers in your area.

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Meridian, ID 83642

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