At the same time, doctors, therapists, and chiropractors have newer techniques and technology to treat LBP. Traction may have fallen by the wayside in light of these other more hands-on treatment approaches.
Traction units are also large and take up considerable space in a clinic while only serving a small number of patients. Some therapists find that using manual traction (with their own hands) works as well (if not better) than strapping someone to a machine for 30 minutes.
There is a newer traction system out now called the VAX-D. It has a no-slip surface that eliminates some of the harnessing used in conventional traction. A pelvic harness is used but the upper body is not tied down. Instead, the patient uses a special handgrip to keep the upper body stabilized.
Early reports on the use of this system are favorable. Pain and disability were decreased in a group of 250 low back pain patients. All subjects in the study had degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc. At least two other forms of conservative care had already been tried (before traction) without success.
More study is needed to support the use of VAX-D before you'll see it in more clinics.