Turkish Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2012 , Vol 58 , Num 4

Cervical Intermittent Traction: Does it Really Work in Cervical Radiculopathy Due to Herniated Disc?

Nural Albayrak Aydın 1 ,Kamil Yazıcıoğlu 2
1 Güven Hospital Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Department, Ankara, Turkey
2 Gülhane Askeri Tıp Akademisi Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri Rehabilitasyon Merkezi, Ankara
DOI : 10.4274/tftr.44712

Objective: Cervical intermittent traction is commonly used for the treatment of neck pain, predominately with nerve root involvement due to herniated disc or cervical spondylosis, however, there is no precise information on its effectiveness. The aim of this prospective randomized controlled trial was to compare the difference between two treatment protocols (regular physical therapy treatment -hotpack, ultrasound, TENS- and exercise, with or without traction) in the treatment of cervical 7 radiculopathy as a result of herniated disc.


Materials and Methods: 27 patients with unilateral C7 radiculopathy due to herniated disc verified by magnetic resonance imaging were recruited and randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups (traction and control group). Traction group received regular physiotherapy, exercise, and intermittent cervical traction whereas control group received regular physiotherapy and exercise for 15 sessions (5 sessions per week). Primary outcome measures were the visual analogue scale and maximum grip strength of the affected side recorded at baseline and discharge.


Results: Statistical analysis revealed a significant increase in grip strength and significant decrease in visual analogue scale after 15 physiotherapy treatment sessions in both groups compared with pretreatment score (p=0.001 and p=0.001, respectively). The change in grip strength and in visual analogue scale after 15 sessions was significantly higher for the traction group than for the control group (p=0.037 and p=0.042, respectively)


Conclusion: Traction with regular physiotherapy modalities (hotpack, ultrasound, TENS) accompanied by home exercises for three weeks increased hand grip strength on the affected arm and reduced neck and arm pain substantially in C7 radiculopathy due to herniated disc. 

Keywords : Traction; radiculopathy; hand strength; physical therapy