Traction means pulling on part of the body.
Most often, traction uses devices such as weights and pulleys to put tension on a displaced bone or joint, such as a dislocated shoulder. The tension helps put the joint back in position and keep it still.
Traction is also used to keep a group of muscles (such as the neck muscles) stretched to reduce muscle spasms. This is called cervical traction.
A traction treatment will involve a:
- Certain amount of tension to pull the body part into another position
- Length of time to use the tension
- Way to keep the tension steady
Browner BD, Jupiter JB, Krettek C, Anderson PA. Closed fracture management. In: Browner BD, Jupiter JB, Krettek C, Anderson PA, eds. Skeletal Trauma: Basic Science, Management, and Reconstruction. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 6.
Cheung JPY, Karppinen J, Takatalo J, Wang H-Q, Shen FH, Samartzis D. Cervical degenerative disk disease. In: Shen FH, Samartzis D, Fessler RG, eds. Textbook of the Cervical Spine. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 12.
Review Date 10/8/2017
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.