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Determining the safety of cervical traction: How do you choose a good PT?


Senior Member
As many of you may know, Dr. Bolognese requires that you report dramatic and immediate positive results from a trial of cervical traction before being accepted as a patient for CCI.

Many have already reported dramatic and instantaneous positive results from cervical traction. It seems that if you experience such immediate symptom relief from a traction procedure, you'd be a good candidate for surgery. This is because traction mimics the effects of cervical fusion surgery by relieving all three types of instabilities (vertical, horizontal and rotational).

The problem is that cervical traction has the possibility of making things worse. I'm not sure how likely this possibility is. It may happen due to further loosening the ligaments in the area.

Certainly, finding a good physical therapist who can do traction properly seems like an important step. It seems generally better to find a good physical therapist than attempt to do traction yourself, at least for the first couple of times.

But I'm not really sure where to start. Does anyone have any general tips and advice on how to find and evaluate the skill of a physical therapist?

Are most physical therapists experienced with cervical traction, or is it something that a minority of PTs will end up having to do in their careers?


Senior Member
When I was looking for a PT to perform cervical traction as per Dr. B, I spoke with a series of PTs and inquired about their experience with CCI, AAI and cervical traction. I explained that the pathology in my neck was still obscure and that I was approaching PT with great delicacy therefore. I was told by at least two highly recommended PTs that this was not an area of expertise for them and so I kept looking. At length, I did find someone who came well-reviewed by other healthcare providers I trust and who had experience and expertise in this area of the body. She initially did a series of positionings of my neck and head and related those to my self-reported symptoms in each posture. After that she confirmed that there was a very strong likelihood of CCI based on symptom provocation.

Performing traction--next-- was done VERY gently and carefully. She strongly opposed my using and over-the-door traction unit at home (again, as I understand, requested by Dr. Bolognese) and instead suggested a supine device that would not inadvertently place too much strain on my neck and would also avoid stress to the jaw, which is a risk with over-the-door devices. I felt pretty comfortable with her because she clearly knew the neck and head well, and because she was so careful with mine.

Hope that helps a little. I do think it is well worth interviewing people before you put your head in their hands!