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. Craniocervical injuries. 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 33.
Catapang G. Traction. In: Lennard TA, Walkowski S, Singla AK, Vivian DG, eds. Pain Procedures in Clinical Practice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 47.
Review Date 8/14/2015
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.