For individuals experiencing or managing low back pain and/or sciatica, can lumbar traction therapy help provide consistent relief?

The Benefits of Lumbar Traction for Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Lumbar Traction

Lumbar traction therapy for lower back pain and sciatica could be a treatment option to help restore mobility and flexibility and safely support an individual’s return to an optimal level of activity. It is often combined with targeted therapeutic exercise. (Yu-Hsuan Cheng, et al., 2020) The technique stretches the space between the vertebrae in the lower spine, relieving lower back pain.

  • Lumbar or low back traction helps to separate the spaces between the vertebrae.
  • Separating the bones restores circulation and helps relieve the pressure on pinched nerves like the sciatic nerve, decreasing pain and improving mobility.


Researchers say lumbar traction with exercise did not improve individual outcomes compared to physical therapy exercises on their own (Anne Thackeray et al., 2016). The study examined 120 participants with back pain and nerve root impingement who were randomly selected to undergo lumbar traction with exercises or simple exercises for pain. Extension-based exercises focused on bending the spine backward. This movement is considered effective for individuals with back pain and pinched nerves. The results indicated that adding lumbar traction to physical therapy exercises did not offer significant benefits over extension-based exercise alone for back pain. (Anne Thackeray et al., 2016)

A 2022 study found that lumbar traction is helpful for individuals with lower back pain. The study investigated two different lumbar traction techniques and found that variable-force lumbar traction and high-force lumbar traction helped to relieve lower back pain. High-force lumbar traction was also found to reduce functional disability. (Zahra Masood et al., 2022) Another study found lumbar traction improves the range of motion in the straight leg raise test. The study examined different forces of traction on herniated discs. All the levels improved the individuals’ range of motion, but the one-half body-weight traction setting was associated with the most significant pain relief. (Anita Kumari et al., 2021)


For individuals with only low back pain, exercise, and postural correction may be all that is needed to provide relief. Research confirms physical therapy exercises can help decrease pain and improve mobility (Anita Slomski 2020). Another study revealed the importance of centralizing sciatic symptoms during repetitive movements. Centralization is moving the pain back to the spine, which is a positive sign that the nerves and discs are healing and occurs during therapeutic exercise. (Hanne B. Albert et al., 2012) A chiropractor and physical therapy team can educate patients on preventing back pain episodes. Chiropractors and physical therapists are body movement experts who can show which exercises are best for your condition. Starting an exercise program that centralizes symptoms can help individuals return to their normal lifestyle quickly and safely. Consult a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program for back pain.

Movement Medicine: Chiropractic


Cheng, Y. H., Hsu, C. Y., & Lin, Y. N. (2020). The effect of mechanical traction on low back pain in patients with herniated intervertebral disks: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Clinical rehabilitation, 34(1), 13–22.

Thackeray, A., Fritz, J. M., Childs, J. D., & Brennan, G. P. (2016). The Effectiveness of Mechanical Traction Among Subgroups of Patients With Low Back Pain and Leg Pain: A Randomized Trial. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy, 46(3), 144–154.

Masood, Z., Khan, A. A., Ayyub, A., & Shakeel, R. (2022). Effect of lumbar traction on discogenic low back pain using variable forces. JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 72(3), 483–486.

Kumari, A., Quddus, N., Meena, P. R., Alghadir, A. H., & Khan, M. (2021). Effects of One-Fifth, One-Third, and One-Half of the Bodyweight Lumbar Traction on the Straight Leg Raise Test and Pain in Prolapsed Intervertebral Disc Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. BioMed research international, 2021, 2561502.

Slomski A. (2020). Early Physical Therapy Relieves Sciatica Disability and Pain. JAMA, 324(24), 2476.

Albert, H. B., Hauge, E., & Manniche, C. (2012). Centralization in patients with sciatica: are pain responses to repeated movement and positioning associated with outcome or types of disc lesions?. European spine journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 21(4), 630–636.

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The information herein on "The Benefits of Lumbar Traction for Lower Back Pain and Sciatica" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.