“When back pain suddenly shows up, we are tempted to blame it on the last minor stressor that affected it, such as a soft bed in a hotel. This is like blaming your bankruptcy on the last latte you bought before your account finally went into the red.” – Todd Hargrove

Back pain, particularly the lower back pain of lumbar region, afflicts

In fact, according to one source, previously common approaches such as surgery have recently been completely dropped as a recommendation for lumbar disc herniations by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), along with frequent corticosteroid injections.

In the US, experts such as NYU Professor John Sarno have questioned why these surgeries, injections, and pain medications are still so widely prescribed for low back pain.

As he has stated, “There is probably no other medical condition which is treated in so many different ways and by such a variety of practitioners as back pain. Though the conclusion may be uncomfortable, the medical community must bear the responsibility for this, for it has been distressingly narrow in its approach to the problem.”

While lumbar traction is not touted as a “cure” for lower back pain, it can serve as an actionable tact for bringing relief from many types of pain in the lumbar region.

Taking a Deeper Look at Lumar Traction

Lumbar traction is a therapeutic technique that involves the gentle stretching of the lumbar spine, which is the lower region of the back. The primary goal of lumbar traction is to alleviate pressure on the spinal discs and nerves in the lumbar area.

During a lumbar traction session, a controlled force is applied to the spine manually or through mechanical devices to create space between the vertebrae. This decompression reduces the compression on spinal discs, which may be bulging or herniated and helps to relieve nerve root impingement.

Additionally, lumbar traction can promote improved circulation, reduce muscle tension, and enhance the mobility of the lumbar spine. It is commonly used to alleviate lower back pain, sciatica, and other conditions related to spinal compression.

Lumbar traction is a widely utilized therapy in the field of soft tissue therapy and rehabilitation. It offers promising benefits for individuals suffering from various back conditions, including herniated discs, sciatica, and chronic lower back pain.

However, like any therapeutic intervention, lumbar traction should be administered with precision and care to ensure optimal outcomes and patient safety. For these reasons, we want to consider the “dos and don’ts” of lumbar traction to help patients better understand this valuable treatment option.


Starting Lumbar Traction: What You Should Do


While this list is not meant to be comprehensive, it covers the essential steps and precautions needed when administering lumbar traction. Here are steps and “best practices” you should undertake when initiating lumbar traction either with a trained practitioner or at home by yourself:

1. Consultation and Assessment: Before initiating lumbar traction, it is crucial to perform a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s condition. Understand the patient’s medical history, current symptoms, and any contraindications for traction therapy. Ensure that lumbar traction is appropriate for the individual’s specific condition.
2. Patient Education: Educate the patient about the purpose and potential benefits of lumbar traction. Explain the procedure, addressing any concerns or questions they may have. A well-informed patient is more likely to have realistic expectations and better compliance.
3. Proper Equipment and Setup: Use high-quality traction equipment designed for lumbar therapy. Ensure that the equipment is well-maintained and regularly inspected for safety. Properly set up the traction table or device according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
4. Gradual Progression: Start with lower traction forces and durations, gradually increasing as the patient’s tolerance improves. This progressive approach minimizes the risk of discomfort or injury and allows the tissues to adapt.
5. Monitoring: Continuously monitor the patient throughout the traction session. Pay close attention to their comfort level and any signs of distress. Adjust the traction parameters as needed to ensure the patient’s well-being.
6. Communication: Maintain open communication with the patient during the treatment. Encourage them to communicate any discomfort or unusual sensations immediately. Address their concerns promptly to create a safe and comfortable environment.
7. Post-Traction Care: After lumbar traction, provide post-treatment care, which may include soft tissue therapy, stretching, or exercises to complement the effects of traction. This holistic approach can enhance the overall outcome.

Starting Lumbar Traction: What You Should NOT Do

It’s important to always keep in mind that any type of traction is, at it’s most fundamental level, the action of stretching a region of the body. This stretching often involves all the soft tissue residing in the target region including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Consequently, caution and prevention are highly recommended.

Here are actions or practices you should not engage in when initiating lumbar traction either with a trained practitioner or at home by yourself:

1. Overloading Traction: Avoid applying excessive traction force, as it can lead to discomfort, muscle spasms, or even injury. Always adhere to the recommended guidelines and ensure the patient’s comfort and safety.
2. Ignoring Contraindications: Do not perform lumbar traction on patients with contraindications, such as fractures, advanced osteoporosis, or certain cardiovascular conditions. Always assess the patient’s medical history thoroughly to prevent potential complications.
3. Lack of Patient Feedback: Never disregard the patient’s feedback or complaints during the traction session. Ignoring signs of discomfort or distress can lead to adverse outcomes and damage the therapeutic relationship.
4. Rushing the Process: Avoid rushing the treatment process. Lumbar traction should be a gradual and controlled therapy. Rushing can cause unnecessary stress on the patient’s tissues and undermine the effectiveness of the treatment.
5. Inadequate Training: Do not perform lumbar traction without proper training and certification. This therapy requires expertise in technique, patient assessment, and safety protocols to ensure favorable results.
6. Neglecting Follow-Up: After a series of lumbar traction sessions, it is essential to conduct follow-up assessments to evaluate progress and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. Neglecting this step may result in suboptimal outcomes.

Keep in mind, too, that lumbar, or spinal, traction has a few downsides and restrictions. According to Healthline.com, for example,

Spinal traction can sometimes cause pain that is worse than the original condition. Those with osteoporosis and certain types of cancer should not use traction therapy. Spinal traction is known to cause muscle spasms.


Lumbar Traction in the Final Analysis

Lumbar traction can be a valuable tool in the arsenal of soft tissue therapy practitioners, particularly for patients with lower back issues.

When administered with care and adherence to the dos and don’ts outlined here, lumbar traction can provide significant relief and improved function. Always prioritize your safety and well-being throughout the treatment process and consult with qualified professionals for guidance when needed.

By following these guidelines, you can harness the potential of lumbar traction as an effective therapeutic option in your clinic.


For Lower Back Pain Relief Look to Pain and Performance Solutions

Regardless of whether you’ve been experiencing lower back pain for a brief period of time or you’ve been suffering ongoing pain for months or longer, we invite you to give us a call. Achieving relief from lower back pain begins once we’ve gained an in-depth understanding of when and how your pain began.

At Pain and Performance Solutions we specialize in bringing relief from chronic muscle pain with therapies such as Active Release Techniques® (ART®) and Anatomy in Motion (AiM). So, don’t simply ignore your back pain and hope it will just go away. Let us help.

Contact us today at 707-636-4404 or book an appointment online to start your recovery process.