The effectiveness of cervical traction

Nicola Peake, Annette Harte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this review was to analyse critically the literature on the effectiveness of cervical traction for patients suffering from neck pain, with or without radiating symptoms. A computer-aided search of databases was carried out from 1966 to 2004, using a combination of key words. Five randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and five case studies were selected and critically appraised using the PEDro scale and a self-designed custom checklist. The five RCTs were of high-to-low quality (score range 3–8/10). The three highest scoring RCTs showed some benefit from the use of cervical traction, whereas the other two did not. The five case studies were of moderate-to-poor quality (score range 5–8/12), but provided positive results for the use of cervical traction. Due to the poor methodological quality of the studies reviewed, there is no conclusive evidence that cervical traction is an effective therapy for patients suffering from neck pain. There is a need for well-designed, high-quality RCTs in this area in order to investigate the effectiveness of this commonly used technique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
JournalPhysical Therapy Reviews
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2005


  • Cervical traction
  • Neck pain
  • Radiating symptoms


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