Current use of Lumbar traction in the management of Low Back Pain: Results of a survey of physiotherapists in the United Kingdom

Annette A Harte, Jackie Gracey, David Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Objective: To identify the current use of traction and the types of patients, treatment parameters, and treatment modali- ties used in conjunction with traction.Design: Postal survey, with 4 sections: professional charac- teristics of respondent, current use of traction, patient selection, and treatment parameters.Setting: Musculoskeletal outpatient departments (private and nonprivate practitioners).Participants: Random sample (N=1491) of chartered phys- iotherapists in the UK who work in the management of low back pain (LBP).Interventions: Not applicable.Main Outcome Measures: Descriptive analysis of informa- tion on current use and practice in applying traction.Results: A response rate of 83% (n=1239) was achieved; 41% (n=507) use lumbar traction, which is most commonly used in the management of subacute LBP patients presenting with nerve root symptoms. Treatment parameters were estab- lished for weights (5–60kg), frequency (2–3 times weekly), and length of treatment (4wk). In addition, traction is com- monly used with other modalities (87%): mobilizations, advice, and exercise.Conclusions: Survey results show the continued use of lumbar traction despite the recommendations of numerous guidelines. Results also clarify the types of patients and the parameters used in the application of traction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1169
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005



  • Low back pain
  • Physical therapy techniques
  • Rehabilitation
  • Traction

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