Lateral traction is a treatment technique in which weight or tension is used to move a body part to the side or away from its original location.
Traction can be used to treat or reduce any joint dislocation or bone fracture by applying tension to the leg or arm with weights and pulleys to realign the bone. For example, it may be used to help line up a broken bone while it heals. Traction can reduce pain related to the injury. Traction can also be used during surgery to allow your surgeon to evaluate your joint better. This is commonly done in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder.
Traction as a treatment involves specifying the amount of tension or force used, the length of time the tension is used, and the means used to maintain the tension.
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Waddell JP, Wardlaw D, Stevenson IM, et al. Closed fracture management. In: Browner BD, Jupiter JB, Krettek C, Anderson PA, eds. Skeletal Trauma: Basic Science, Management, and Reconstruction. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 7.
Review Date 4/24/2023
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.