Physical Rehabilitation and Nursing

Changes in Blood Pressure and Related Autonomic Function During Cervical Traction in Healthy Women 【Feature Article, JULY 2011,Volume 34 • Number 7, P. e295-301】


 Cervical traction is a physical therapy procedure frequently used to treat cervical disk lesions, cervical spondylosis, and cervical facet joint lesions. We have observed rare cases of side effects in elderly patients, but not in women younger than 30 years.
In this pilot study, 96 young women were randomly divided into 3 groups to study the effect of cervical traction with different traction weights on blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, and correlated autonomic adjustment. Cervical traction weight used was 10% of the patient’s body weight in group A (n32), 20% in group B (n32), and 30% in group C (n32). Assessments of blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), percentage of high- and low-frequency signals, and low-frequency/high-frequency ratio were performed before, during, and 20 minutes after traction. We found that systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate variability elevated during cervical traction and returned nearly to original levels immediately after traction in group C, but not in groups A or B. There were no signifi cant changes in heart rate, percentage of high- or low- requency signals, and low-frequency/high-frequency ratio in all 3 groups during or after cervical traction.
Cervical traction with a traction weight approximately 10% to 20% of body weight can be safely provided without signifi cant compromise of cardiovascular function. However, heavy traction weight (30% of body weight) should be avoided, especially for a patient with cardiovascular disease.