Home Neck Traction for Neck Pain Relief

When you have a neck pain sometimes you feel like if only someone could traction my neck to take the pressure off the nerve. You might have had a physio or chiropractor do some neck traction on you and felt the difference and wanted to do that yourself at home. Today I want to look at little bit more into home cervical traction equipment and what is generally recommended if you do neck traction treatment at home.

Neck Traction

Creating a traction force on your neck is thought to help take the pressure off the discs, joints and nerves in your cervical spine.

So what type of traction, how much traction and when do I traction are some of the most common questions someone might ask.

Which Type of Neck Traction Equipment

There different ways to create traction on your neck. You may have seen some of the different types or experienced them yourself. Remember to follow the advice of your health professional who has diagnosed your neck pain before trying traction.

Horizontal Cervical Traction ~ Laying Down

If you have had neck (cervical) traction when being treated before you probably have had horizontal cervical traction.

Horizontal cervical traction would be the neck traction when someone say uses a towel under your head whilst your laying on a treatment table and they gently pull your head up or the could use their hands at the base of your skull to traction the cervical spine.

This type of home cervical traction unit is when you are lying on your back and your neck is pulled up on a horizontal plane. An example of this type of traction equipment for use at home would be the saunders cervical hometrac device. You can see the saunders cervical hometrac device below both the new version and a reconditioned version. I could only find pricing from the US amazon for around $397.99 which today when I checked was about £250

Vertical Cervical Traction ~ Sitting

This type of cervical traction is used mainly at home not in a hospital or healthcare professionals room.

To create the traction effect on your neck you would hang the traction unit over a door. One end usually is a water bag you can fill to your weight specification or needs with the other end the straps that go under your chin. You could do this type of neck traction whilst sitting in a chair at the door. The water bag will hang down over the door pulling the straps up under your chin creating the traction pull on your neck.

An example of these home over the door water bag weight neck traction units can be seen below. There is also a hand pulley neck traction unit option. Here you would use a door again but instead of using a water weight you would pull on a rope to create the traction pull on your neck. These home neck traction systems are much cheaper because they are less complicated with prices looking to start from £25.

How Much Cervical Traction is Needed?

There has not been much research done on the exact amount of force needed for optimal neck traction. Some have recommended between 3kg (8-12 pounds) to a maximum of 23kgs (50 pounds) of pressure.

When Can I Do Cervical Traction?

Neck traction has been used for various mechanical neck pain causes. This may be when people suffer headaches or mainly cervical disc herniations causing a trapped nerve in neck pain.

The idea is that the traction could help open the space between the two vertebrae in the neck taking the pressure of the pinched nerve which is called a radiculopathy.

Should I use an Over the Door Traction or Laying Down One?

I found an interesting article from the Saunders group who make the hometrac unit mentioned above. You can read the full article below which goes into the research, difference between the over the door unit and their laying down unit, static pressure versus intermittent pressure, the best angle of your neck when doing traction etc…

Download (PDF, 104KB)

Some pro’s and cons of the two types of home neck traction would be:

  • Expense – over the door traction units are cheaper than the laying down ones like Saunders cervical hometrac,
  • Jaw Pain – the over the door ones put pressure on your jaw joint the TMJ the hometrac unit doesn’t,
  • Monitoring Pressure – it is easier the monitor the pressure on your neck via the gauge with the hometrac.

Gentle neck traction can be relieving for neck pain. Experimenting with the different amounts of traction pull on the neck are needed to reach a comfort point I have found. Hopefully you know and understand more about home neck traction treatment options now.

If you have used one of these home cervical traction devices I would love to know how it makes or made you feel. Would doing traction on your neck at home be something you would consider? Leave a comment below.