Neck pain can be debilitating if you have a degeneration in your cervical spine that is causing nerves to be pinched in your neck. Neck stiffness, aching, and shooting pain can sometimes be addressed with tools that stretch your neck out. This is commonly referred to as neck traction, the action of pulling out your neck to create more space for your intervertebral discs that are being compressed from years of poor posture. There are many different units designed for this purpose but you need to shop wisely and consult your healthcare professional for guidance.
Different Neck Traction Devices
To introduce you to the world of neck traction we will briefly go over the various devices available along with their successes and failures. There are at least four different designs that you might come across:
- Over the Door
- Air Neck Cushion
- Pressure Gauge Controlled
- Inversion table
Over the Door Neck Traction
Using a simple pulley system with a weight at one end and a harness at the other, this is one the first neck traction designs on the market. It is an awkward operation that involves finding a door that you can safely sit in front of and hang the unit to. A bag that you fill with water to the desired weight is then attached and the user straps in and slowly sits down in a chair. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the right height of chair.
If and when the user wants to relax the stretch or stop the process, they simply stand up. Controlling the amount of pull can be cumbersome and a lot of pressure is being put on your jaw joints which could pose a different problem down the road for some.
Air Cushion Neck Traction Unit
Almost similar in shape to the air cushions used when flying on an airplane, this neck traction contraption has a hand held pump so you can easily control the amount of air that goes in and out of the cushion. When pumping it up the air makes it taller, so in turn, it pushes against your shoulders, chin, and the back of your head to stretch your head away from your shoulders.
Some people might feel constricted or even choked as it reaches maximum inflation so you may be limited in the amount of stretch. This is built with a material that is prone to get punctured and start leaking so this may not last a lifetime but it usually is very affordable. Be aware that this does put pressure on your jaw which can cause joint injury.
Pressure Gauge Controlled Neck Traction
If you have the money to throw down on a more reliable device then investing in a pressure gauge system will give you more controlled neck traction. These are easier to use because you just lie down in a comfortable position, strap your head in, and pump up the pressure. The gauge then tells you accurately what level you are at so there is no guesswork involved.
These tend to be safe for your jaw joints because they are designed to pull from the base of your neck only. Lying down with your head slightly elevated at a 15 degree angle is going to put you in the most comfortable position for stretching out your neck. Just be aware of how much pressure you are allowed to do for your condition by consulting a physiotherapist or doctor first.
The name describes how this traction device works, it turns you upside down to stretch your spine. The idea sounds like it would work perfectly but really it ends up being a very uncomfortable position because there is a lot of pressure on your ankles and your blood is rushing to your head.
This unit is going to work your whole body rather than focus on your neck so it may not be what you want at all. Best to save yourself space with this one and not invest in it.
Correcting your posture, resting your neck properly, regularly stretching your neck, and staying active are important to include in your overall neck pain relief plan. Maintain the natural curve of your cervical spine, roll your shoulders back, and keep your ears in alignment with the center of your shoulders. Start using a small rolled up towel in your pillow to support your neck and relax all your muscles. Just sleeping wrong can strain your neck muscles and cause them to seize up.
About the Author
Regina Rain pours her heart into taking care of her spine after a severe back injury three years back. She is devoted to blogging about solutions to neck pain such as with neck traction and simple stretching exercises.