Traction V Spinal Decompression – What is the Difference?


It is common practice these days for people to seek alternative and non invasive methods to reduce their chronic neck and back pain, rather than heading down the surgery path.   When introducing Spinal Decompression to a patient, a question we sometimes get is “how is this different from Traction Therapy (or Flexion Distraction Therapy)?”

Comparing the treatments is like comparing the horse and cart to a bicycle and then to a Mercedes Benz.  These are all forms of transport but are they the same?

No way!

So what is the difference?

Traction is dated technology which uses a rope and pulley system which pulls the patient in opposite directions to affect a stretch.  It is difficult to target a specific area of the spine and force cannot be easily monitored. Slack and grip can cause muscle guarding and there is always a chance of stretching areas that do not require it.

Flexion Distraction  is performed on a table which has movable parts.  The practitioner manually leavers the table to produce movement and stretch on the body.  This process is reliant on the practitioner delivering the treatment and can be difficult to reproduce from treatment to treatment and can also differ from practitioner to practitioner.  The treatment is performed with the patient in the prone position (face down).

Spinal Decompression Table

Non Surgical Spinal Decompression Table

Spinal Decompression is performed on a computerised table which has multiple segments allowing the angles of application to be changed, thereby targeting specific discs. The table then also separates to provide stretch and release for either the cervical (neck) or lumbar (lower back) regions. The table is driven by a computerised application of force keeping in constant touch with the patient which overcomes muscle guarding and takes away any human errors or differences in one treatment to another.  

The computer then monitors the force and release in millisecond intervals, enabling exact reproduction. With the patient in the supine position (face up) the table has 8 different programs which deliver stretch protocols to both the anterior and posterior aspect of the spine.

Once 100% of the nominated force is reached, and intradiscal pressure reduction has been achieved, Spinal Decompression is the only treatment which can precisely hold and release (to an exact 50% or 75% of the force) and repeat – again and again – during a single treatment, to increase circulation, reduce inflammation and achieve a positive physiological change.