What are neck traction devices?

Neck traction (also known as cervical traction) devices are a form of neck and spine therapy that can be performed by a physical therapist or at home on your own. They work by stretching the muscles and ligaments in your neck, relieving pressure on the spine, and reducing pain caused by things like herniated discs and pinched nerves.

What are the benefits of using a neck traction device?

The number one benefit of owning a neck traction device is the ability to use it at home. If you’ve ever had a neck injury, you know that it doesn’t just hurt while you’re at the chiropractor or physical therapist. It hurts 24/7. With a neck traction device, you can ease your own pain at home without professional assistance. Also, it’s medication-free, meaning if you’re the sort of person, like me, who hates to rely on prescription or even over-the-counter pain relievers, this is a good option for you.

Cervical Traction Device Reviews

1) ComforTrac Cervical Traction Unit

 Key features:

Adjustable angle incline: The ComforTrac can be adjusted to angle inclines of 10, 15 or 20 degrees without requiring additional parts. This is key for people on a limited budget who just want some pain relief in one, single product.

Adjustable neck wedges made from memory foam: The adjustability of the neck wedges combined with memory foam construction makes this a key comfort feature. Many people use memory foam pillows and mattresses due to their high level of comfort. If you’re a memory foam fan like me, you’re going to want to keep this feature in mind.

Maximum of 50lbs of force: What I like about this is the fact that you can really turn up the tension if your needs require it. And remember, you’re not actually required to use the maximum level of tension. You can always set it to less. It’s about finding the setting that’s right for your needs—and this device enables that.

Portability: You can easily take it on-the-go with its wheeled carrying case. This is great for people with back problems who find rolling cases easier to manage than cases you carry.

Quick release hand pump: This is ideal, because you want a device you can easily disengage. This maximizes both safety and comfort.

The Good:

Its high level of adjustability is a big deal for me. Everyone has different needs. Some people need low levels of tension; others require the highest level of tension. And on a similar note, the adjustable wedged will make sure you’re comfortable while using the device. Adjustability, combined with its memory foam construction and transportability abilities make this a winner in my book.

The Bad:

It only has 50lbs of maximum force. However, too much force can actually make injuries worse, so this 50lb cap won’t trouble most users. Some may find the wheeled carrying case cumbersome. However, those with back problems or weight lifting restrictions will find this feature a necessity, and a pro instead of a con.

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2) NeckPro II Cervical Traction Device – Adjustable Door Bracket Model

Key features:

Therapeutic versatility: Suitable for relieving everything from pinched nerves to herniated discs. This is great for people who suffer more than one neck problem.

Quick release halter: The quick release provides ease of use and safety benefits. As always, safety is of the utmost importance.

Capable of 15lbs of pressure: Ideal for people who want steady, safe relief. Remember, it doesn’t always take a lot of tension to get pain relief. Different devices work with different levels of tension.

Cord-operated tension control: This way, you can gradually increase tension and slowly work your way up to your ideal level.

The Good:

The NeckPro II can alleviate a variety of neck-related ailments, making it highly versatile. I love the cord operation because I always recommend people start out slowly with any new device until they know how it affects them. Think about it. If you’re a beginning runner, you don’t start out running ten miles a day, do you? Also, I have to say; the quick release halter is primo for safety. Like many of you, I value safety before anything else in therapeutic devices, so the quick release halter is one of my favorite aspects of this product.

The Bad:

Cord operation may prove tricky for some users; however, this can be easily remedied by following the manual instructions and practice.  Also, the pressure range sounds small; however, since this device works somewhat differently from other models, it makes sense; each device has its pressure range matched to what is safe and effective for that device, so pressure level isn’t necessarily interchangeable between other devices. Another note: This is a door bracket model. If you’re committed to devices that work via air pumps, this may not be your thing. However, many people prefer the door bracket device type, so for them, this is actually a pro.

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3) Instapark Cervical Neck Traction Device Inflatable Pillow

Key features:

Easy to use: You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to schlep it to work; it’s lightweight and easy to travel with.

Relieves tension: This is the main reason why people use neck traction devices, and this device does its job superbly. If you’re a tension headache sufferer, you’ll want to pay attention to this feature. After all, many head, neck and spine problems are either caused or exacerbated by tension in the neck.

Hand pump: The hand pump allows you, the user, to pump up the air chamber to your desired tension level. That way, you can take things slow and find the right comfort level for you.

Improves posture: Because you can use the pump to find your personal optimal setting, it stretches your neck just the right amount to allow you to sit a little taller and stronger. Neck problems both cause bad posture and are made worse by bad posture, which is what makes this feature so important, because it breaks this vicious cycle.

Hypoallergenic: This product is comprised of materials that are suitable for those with allergies and sensitive skin. If you suffer from latex or other allergies to materials and fabrics, it’s always important to go for products designed with your needs in mind.

The Good:

I love the fact that it’s hypoallergenic. As a latex allergy sufferer myself, I always recommend my skin-sensitive clients read the labels and know what the products are made out of. Also, I’m a big fan of the hand pump. I can’t stand it when a device manufacturer has a one-size-fits-all mentality. It’s vital that those with chronic pain be able to conform their device to their specific needs and the Cervical Neck Traction Device Inflatable Pillow allows for that.

The Bad:

Some people may dislike the hand pump feature; however, it’s important to remember that safety and lasting comfort are more important than instant gratification. It’s not a wall-mounted device; however, some users find wall-mounted devices actually painful, so this is really a personal preference thing.

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4) Aspen Vista Cervical Collar Neck Brace (Adjustable Sizing)

Key features:

One Size Fits All: The Aspen Vista model includes instructions on how to get the fit that’s right for you. This is important to note for people who are worried if a neck traction device might not fit them.

Height Adjustable: A button allows you to adjust the height of your brace so that you can find the best setting for your needs and comfort.

All-day Wear: This cervical device is safe to wear all day and line with cotton foam, allowing for comfort over long periods of wear.

Easy to Clean: The lining is removable, so you can clean it easily. I love this because hygiene is often overlooked in devices such as these, but it’s important for your overall health.

The Good:

It may sound shallow, but I like that this product is award-winning. It garnered the Best Cervical Care Product from the Spine Technology Awards; while not as renowned as the Oscars, it says a lot about this device that it’s viewed favorably by those in the spine business. Also, Aspen has been around for a while and their products are the fruit of over 30 years of research. And here’s a unique thing I like: It has a free area over the trachea so that those with specific, serious health problems can receive emergency care. I love that they thought of this.

The Bad:

You can’t return it. However, I can see why the company has that policy. When you have antibiotic-resistant skin infections like MRSA going around in the general population, it’s important to prevent their spread. Also, some people find they can’t wear it all day. This may be down to personal preference, though.

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5) EverRelief Inflatable Cervical Neck Traction Device

Key features:

No Assembly Required: I love this, because when you’re in pain, you just want to put on the product and get some relief without the hassle.

Detailed Comfort Tips: The manufacturer offers detailed advice on how to achieve optimal comfort from their device. This is great for people who are first-time cervical traction device users.

Pain Relief: The pain relief comes primarily from improving posture. If using more complicated devices makes you nervous, this should ease your fears. It’s a very natural way to relieve pain; spinal alignment not only helps the spine, but the muscle and nerves around it.

Portable: It’s lightweight and small enough to fit into your purse or briefcase so you can use it during work or while traveling. Since work and traveling are some of the main causes of neck tension, this is a feature that really makes me sit up and pay attention.

Adjustable: It adjusts via inflation, so it’s very easy to find your ideal level of comfort and support. Also, you can play around with it to find your perfect setting—if you’re a newbie, this is going to be super helpful.

The Good:

I love that it’s quality tested. Nobody wants a fly-by-night product. Like many of you, I want to know the product is safe and effective, so I like the responsibility the company takes. It’s also soft and comfy. I always recommend that people who suffer fibromyalgia—which commonly coincides with neck problems—use soft products, because for fibro sufferers, anything that touches the skin can cause pain and tension. That won’t be a problem with this product. Like most cervical traction devices, it’s adjustable, which further facilitates comfort.

The Bad:

You can’t sleep in it or use it as a neck brace. However, most neck traction devices aren’t intended for sleeping, so this isn’t a big deal. The fabric on the device is flannel, though many people like the feel of flannel, so this is just a nit-picky personal preference thing.

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What to look for before buying a cervical traction device

Some people are given specific product recommendations by their doctors. However, if, like so many others, you haven’t been given a product recommendation by your doctor, selecting a neck traction device may seem like an extremely daunting task at first. You probably have a lot of concerns and may not even know where to start. Just slow down, take a deep breath, and remember that you’re not alone. A lot of people are new to cervical contraction devices. The confusion over these seemingly intimidating devices can be overcome when you break down their features into simple, common sense categories:

Ease-of-use: If you’re like me, when you’re in pain, you don’t want to be bent over a complicated instruction manual trying to set up an even more complicated device. You want something with an easy set up that you can use as quickly as possible.

Size: Does it come in your size or is it adjustable to fit all or most neck sizes?

Adjustable positioning: Can you adjust it through inflation or by other means to find a setting or position that is ideal for your needs? Most models nowadays are adjustable, but keep this in mind. You want something that will conform to you—you shouldn’t have to conform to the product.

Portability: If you need relief on the go, make sure that you consider portable neck traction options. Most devices are portable, but some are more so than others. Consider what you’re comfortable carrying around before buying if you plan to travel with your cervical traction device or take it to work with you.

How it works: There are a few different neck traction options; your preferences and needs will determine which is best for you. Some are door bracket models; other are inflation type devices. What works best for you depends on your needs, if your doctor has given you a specific recommendation, and what makes you most comfortable.

Requirements: Does the product require additional products to function? Does it have specific height or weight requirements? Also, is there any special setup that is required?

Tips on finding the cervical traction device that best suits your needs

When shopping for a neck traction device, keep your needs in mind. Things to consider are:

  • Ability to adjust to a variety of neck sizes
  • Ability to adjust to different levels of tension to suit your specific needs and comfort level
  • Is it safe for all-day use?
  • Can you travel with it easily?