July 14, 2024
Home » Exploring the Impact of Traction Therapy on Herniated Discs

Can individuals with herniated discs find the relief they are looking for from traction therapy or decompression to provide pain relief?


The spine allows the individual to be mobile and flexible without feeling pain and discomfort when a person is on the move. This is because the spine is part of the musculoskeletal system that consists of muscles, tendons, ligaments, the spinal cord, and spinal discs. These components surround the spine and have three regions to allow the upper and lower extremities to do their jobs. However, the spine also ages when the body starts to age naturally. Many movements or routine actions can cause the body to be stiff and, over time, can cause the spinal disc to herniate. When this happens, a herniated disc can lead to pain and discomfort in the extremities, thus making individuals deal with a reduced quality of life and pain in three spinal regions. Luckily, there are numerous treatments, like traction therapy and decompression, to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with herniated discs. Today’s article looks at why herniated discs cause issues in the spine and the effects of how these two treatments can help reduce herniated discs. We talk with certified medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to assess how a herniated disc in the spine may be the issue causing musculoskeletal pain. We also inform and guide patients on how integrating spinal decompression and traction therapy can help realign the spine and reduce disc herniation that is causing spinal issues. We encourage our patients to ask their associated medical providers intricate and important questions about incorporating non-surgical treatments as part of their routine to reduce pain and discomfort in their bodies. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.


Why Herniated Discs Causes Issues In The Spine?

Have you been experiencing constant discomfort in your neck or back that doesn’t allow you to relax? Do you feel tingling sensations in your upper and lower extremities, making grasping objects or walking difficult? Or have you noticed that you are hunching over from your desk or standing and that stretching causes pain? As the spine keeps the body upright, its main components include the moveable vertebrae, the nerve root fibers, and spinal discs to help send neuron signals to the brain to allow movement, cushion the shocked forces on the spine, and be flexible. The spine allows the individual to perform various tasks without pain and discomfort through repetitive movements. However, when the body ages, it can lead to degenerative changes in the spine, causing the spinal disc to herniate over time. A herniated disc is a common degenerative musculoskeletal condition that causes the nucleus pulposus to break through any weak region of the annulus fibrosus and compress the surrounding nerve roots. (Ge et al., 2019) Other times, when repetitive motions start to cause a developing herniated disc, the inner portion of the disc can become desiccated and brittle. In contrast, the outer portion becomes more fibrotic and less elastic, causing the disc to shrink and be narrow. A herniated disc can affect young and old populations as they can have a multifactorial contribution that causes proinflammatory changes to the body. (Wu et al., 2020



When many people are dealing with pain associated with a herniated disc, the disc itself goes through morphological change through the characterization of the disc being partial damage, which is then followed by the displacement and herniation of the inner disc portion in the vertebral canal to compress the spinal nerve roots. (Diaconu et al., 2021) This causes symptoms of pain, numbness, and weakness in the upper and lower body portions through nerve impingement. Hence why, many individuals are dealing with referred pain symptoms from their arms and legs that are radiating pain. When nerve compression associated with herniated discs starts to cause pain and discomfort, many individuals begin to seek out treatment to reduce the pain that the herniated disc is causing to provide relief for their bodies.


Spinal Decompression In Depth-Video

The Effects Of Traction Therapy In Reducing Herniated Disc

Many people who are suffering from pain that is being affected by herniated discs in their spines can seek out treatments like traction therapy to alleviate pain. Traction therapy is a non-surgical treatment that stretches and mobilizes the spine. Traction therapy can be mechanically or manually done by a pain specialist or with the help of mechanical devices. The effects of traction therapy can reduce the compression force on the spinal disc while reducing nerve root compression by expanding the disc height within the spine. (Wang et al., 2022) This allows the surrounding joints within the spine to be mobile and positively affect the spine. With traction therapy, intermittent or steady tension forces help stretch the spine, reduce pain, and improve functional outcomes. (Kuligowski et al., 2021


The Effects Of Spinal Decompression In Reducing Herniated Disc

Another form of non-surgical treatment is spinal decompression, a sophisticated version of traction that uses computerized technology to help apply controlled, gentle pulling forces to the spine. Spinal decompression does is that it can help decompress the spinal canal and help pull the herniated disc back to its original position while stabilizing the spine and keeping the vital bones and soft tissues safe. (Zhang et al., 2022) Additionally, spinal decompression can create negative pressure on the spine to allow the flow of nutritional fluids and blood oxygen back to the discs while creating an inverse relationship when tension pressure is introduced. (Ramos & Martin, 1994) Both spinal decompression and traction therapy can offer many therapeutic pathways to provide relief to many individuals dealing with herniated discs. Depending on how severe the herniated disc has caused issues to the person’s spine, many can rely on non-surgical treatments due to its customizable plan that is personalized to the person’s pain and can be combined with other therapies to strengthen the surrounding muscles. By doing so, many people can be pain-free over time while being mindful of their bodies. 



Diaconu, G. S., Mihalache, C. G., Popescu, G., Man, G. M., Rusu, R. G., Toader, C., Ciucurel, C., Stocheci, C. M., Mitroi, G., & Georgescu, L. I. (2021). Clinical and pathological considerations in lumbar herniated disc associated with inflammatory lesions. Rom J Morphol Embryol, 62(4), 951-960. doi.org/10.47162/RJME.62.4.07

Ge, C. Y., Hao, D. J., Yan, L., Shan, L. Q., Zhao, Q. P., He, B. R., & Hui, H. (2019). Intradural Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Case Report and Literature Review. Clin Interv Aging, 14, 2295-2299. doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S228717

Kuligowski, T., Skrzek, A., & Cieslik, B. (2021). Manual Therapy in Cervical and Lumbar Radiculopathy: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 18(11). doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116176

Ramos, G., & Martin, W. (1994). Effects of vertebral axial decompression on intradiscal pressure. J Neurosurg, 81(3), 350-353. doi.org/10.3171/jns.1994.81.3.0350

Wang, W., Long, F., Wu, X., Li, S., & Lin, J. (2022). Clinical Efficacy of Mechanical Traction as Physical Therapy for Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Meta-Analysis. Comput Math Methods Med, 2022, 5670303. doi.org/10.1155/2022/5670303

Wu, P. H., Kim, H. S., & Jang, I. T. (2020). Intervertebral Disc Diseases PART 2: A Review of the Current Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies for Intervertebral Disc Disease. Int J Mol Sci, 21(6). doi.org/10.3390/ijms21062135

Zhang, Y., Wei, F. L., Liu, Z. X., Zhou, C. P., Du, M. R., Quan, J., & Wang, Y. P. (2022). Comparison of posterior decompression techniques and conventional laminectomy for lumbar spinal stenosis. Front Surg, 9, 997973. doi.org/10.3389/fsurg.2022.997973



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