Neck pain will affect most adults at some point in their lives. And when it happens to you, it’s best to understand what’s causing your pain, how long it might last, and what treatment options and therapies are available. No one wants to be in pain any longer than they have to, so it’s important to educate yourself on how to improve your spinal health, using strategies like better posture, at-home neck traction and/or physical therapy.
Neck Pain 101
There are so many “moving parts” that comprise your neck and cervical spine that it’s easy to see why so many people suffer from neck pain. There are the seven vertebral bones that support your head, the discs in between them, plus muscles, ligaments, and nerves. If any of these becomes moderately to severely injured, you are in for a world of discomfort and probably days to months of recovery.
Various activities, accidents and conditions can cause neck pain, including:
- Hunching forward at a desk or over a phone for an extended time
- Driving or sitting for long periods
- Carrying heavy bags or purses on one or both shoulders
- Heavy physical activity, including exercise, lifting, digging, or throwing
- Trauma (from an accident or fall)
- Herniated discs/disc degeneration
- Pinched nerves or bone spurs
Or, if you are like some unlucky folks, it could be a simple, quick turn of the head to look at something, and bam — immediate, shooting pain in your neck or upper back. In other words, sometimes it doesn’t take much to cause a lot of neck pain.
Identifying Your Neck Pain
Cervical pain can be acute or chronic. Acute pain lasts days to weeks, while chronic pain lasts longer than three months and can go on for years. Pain can include sore, tight or spasming muscles, and burning, stabbing, or tingling sensations. Neck pain can also be local or can “travel”: axial pain is pain that stays in the neck area, while radicular pain extends down into the arms or shoulders, and can include tingling or numbness in the arms and hands.
It’s a good idea, if your pain lasts more than a few days, or is quite severe, to see a doctor. A physician will ask questions about the circumstances that led to the pain, gather your medical history, and examine the area. He or she may even order imaging scans if necessary — like X-rays, CT scans or MRIs — to help with diagnosis.
Treatments and Interventions
If it is determined that your neck pain is due to a more serious cause or is severe in nature, procedures (including surgery) or long-term treatment (like physical therapy) may be necessary.
But if the pain is mild to moderate and is due to something like strained muscles, it may be treatable at home with rest and self-care. Some home treatment options recommended for neck pain are:
- Rest (stop doing whatever it is that caused the pain; for instance, if your pain started while lifting heavy weights at the gym, take a break from weight-lifting for a while)
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as NSAIDs
- Ice/Heat (or alternating both)
- Neck stretches, including neck traction
The goal of any treatment is to find pain relief and restore the mobility and function of the neck. One treatment that many people have found effective for achieving these outcomes is neck traction.
Benefits of Neck Traction
People who have used cervical (or neck) traction have experienced many benefits from the treatment, including:
- Reduced Pain
- Decreased Stiffness
- Increased Mobility
- Improved Posture
- Better Sleep
- Reduced or eliminated need for medication
Obviously, if your neck pain is affecting your daily activities, or if, for example, you have bothersome tingling down one arm and numbness in your fingers, those benefits listed above are everything you’re looking to achieve. How, then, does traction allow neck pain sufferers to achieve relief?
How Neck Traction Works to Relieve Pain
Traction uses gentle tension on the head to pull it away from the neck, expanding the space between the vertebrae, and slowly stretching the muscles and ligaments around the spine. This provides an opportunity for muscles to relax, pinched nerves to be released, and spinal decompression to occur.
Neck Traction Methods
Neck traction can either be performed by a person or a device. Manual traction is when a physical therapist uses his or her hands to gently pull the head away from the neck as the patient lies on a table. Mechanical traction uses a machine, harness or sling (usually combined with weights or pulleys) to create the appropriate tension to pull the head away from the neck.
Both forms of traction are effective. Both forms can also be performed in a physical therapy or chiropractic clinic. However, only one form - mechanical - can be safely achieved at home (unless you are lucky enough to be married to a physical therapist!). There are many devices on the market for safe, at-home neck traction.
Some use inflatable, doughnut-shaped pillows around the neck to gently lift the head away from the shoulders. Others resemble a basic cervical collar, except with adjustable pieces or inflatable spaces that help to stretch the neck away from the torso. Lastly, some neck traction devices use a series of weights, pulleys or bungees attached to a door to allow you to gently hang or rest your head in a sling to achieve the proper traction.
Fisher Traction’s Neck Device is the Best Choice
In choosing a traction device, ideally it’s best to find one that is portable, affordable, and easy to use. Consider whether you want to invest in a traction device that can’t be packed into a suitcase, has so many moving parts that it requires a second person to help set up, or requires a major financial investment. Probably not.
Fisher Traction has created a neck traction device that checks all the boxes: effective, affordable, lightweight, and simple to set up by yourself. It features a patented negative G-force technology bungee, easily attached to a door handle, eliminating the need for pulleys and weights, while providing the ideal 40 pounds of traction on the neck. Additionally, Fisher’s device is designed with a Release Strap to intermittently pull, temporarily releasing the stretch and allowing the fluid that has collected in the cervical discs during traction to be absorbed.
But perhaps the most important differentiator between the Fisher neck traction device and other traction devices is the safe, healthy 30-degree angle at which your neck is pulled during the traction treatment. Other devices thrust the head forward, pulling at an unhealthy 50-degree angle.
The Fisher Traction Neck Device is the safest, most effective neck traction device on the market. To experience pain relief, increased mobility and improved posture, Fisher Traction’s Neck Device is the ideal choice.