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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Graham 2006.

No evidence about neck traction for neck pain

updated
Graham N, Gross AR, Goldsmith C. Mechanical traction for mechanical neck disorders: a systematic review. Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine. 2006 May;38(3):145–52. PubMed #16702080.
Tags: neck, traction, treatment, head/neck, spine

PainSci summary of Graham 2006?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Historically, straightforward tests of traction like those done by Zylbergold in 1985 and Borman in 2008 have had conflicting results, leaving clinicians (as usual) not really sure what works and what doesn’t. This review confirms the poor state of the science, concluding not only that “inconclusive evidence for continuous and intermittent traction exists,” but also that the lack of evidence is due to poor “trial methodological quality.” •sigh•

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether mechanical traction, either alone or in combination with other treatments, improves pain, function/disability, patient satisfaction and global perceived effect in adults with mechanical neck disorders.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic review up to September 2004 of randomized controlled trials and used pre-defined levels of evidence for qualitative analysis. Two independent reviewers conducted study selection, data abstraction and methodological quality assessment. Using a random effects model, relative risk and standardized mean differences were calculated. The reasonableness of combining studies was assessed on clinical and statistical grounds. In the absence of heterogeneity, pooled effect measures were calculated.

RESULTS: Of the 10 selected trials, one study was of high quality. Our review revealed low-quality trials for mechanical neck disorders, showing evidence of benefit favouring intermittent traction for pain reduction. Continuous traction showed no significant difference for defined outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Inconclusive evidence for continuous and intermittent traction exists due to trial methodological quality. Two clinical conclusions may be drawn, one favouring the use of intermittent traction and the other not supporting the use of continuous traction. Attention to research design flaws and description of traction characteristics is needed.

related content

These two articles on PainScience.com cite Graham 2006 as a source:


This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: