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Cervical traction has been utilized for many years for relief of pain associated with neck muscle spasms or nerve root compression. Traction is a medical technique in which opposite forces are applied to separate parts of the body to stretch soft tissues, and/or separate bony structures. Cervical traction focuses on stretching the head away from the rest of the body to release tension and pressure on neck structures. It generally requires 2 minutes of sustained traction before the intervertebral spaces begin to widen. Forces between 20 and 50 pounds are frequently used to achieve intervertebral separation. Duration of cervical traction can range from a few minutes to 20 to 30 min, once or twice weekly to multiple times per day. A variety of cervical traction devices are available for use in the home. The most commonly used device uses an "over the door" design, in which a patient wears a chin strap harness attached to a counterweight that is suspended over the door using a pulley system. The weight pulls the chin harness upwards, relieving tension on the neck. Other variations of this device include frames which attach to a headboard or freestanding units. "Over the door" units are designed to deliver no more than 20 pounds of tension. Pneumatic devices are also available that push up the head while pushing down on the shoulders. Pneumatic Traction device, which consists of a soft foam cushion that extends from the patient's shoulders to the back of the head (occiput) and is secured with a head strap. A patient-controlled bellows then inflates the cushions, thus applying up to 20 pounds of tension. Some pneumatic traction device can deliver up to 50 pounds of tension. Pneumatic cervical traction devices were developed to deliver cervical traction in the home comparable to forces applied by physical therapists in the outpatient setting. The patient is instructed in home traction to relieve symptoms, an exercise routine to relieve spasm and discomfort, and to report any weaknesses, eye symptoms, and bladder or bowel incontinence immediately.

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