Traction is a modality given by physical therapists for the purpose of applying a force that draws two adjacent bones apart from each other in order to increase their shared joint apace. Traction also stretches the muscles ligaments and tendons that surround the joint. Traction may be given manually, by means of a device or via positioning.
The elongation of the spine provided by traction allows facet joints to slide, increases circulation and relieves pressure on the spinal cord, its blood vessels and nerve roots. The improved circulation has an added, indirect benefit of decreasing chemicals in damaged tissues brought about by inflammation.
Traction is sometimes given to people with spinal disc bulges, spinal misalignment, and spinal stenosis, as it helps to make space around the compressed spinal cord.