I agree with this, and I’m somewhat concerned about people doing traction without first knowing their anatomy. It’s safer to consult a specialist neurosurgeon and get a baseline MRI before doing this. But I know that’s not always possible.
You just really don’t want to be stretching out those sensitive neural structures incorrectly. There’s a neurosurgical issue called “Tethered Cord,” and traction could worsen that, if you have it. That’s why I think it’s best to see a neurosurgeon, as the traction only picks up on limited issues, when you could potentially have more complexities. I’d just hate for you guys to get worse from experimenting with this.
I am really very late responding to this but I wanted to add because I have just been diagnosed as having CCI/AAI and have the same doctor as @jeff_w and will have the same neurosurgeon...
My specialist ordered PT for me until my surgery but it is not doing any exercises - just the PT who has a doctorate and who spoke with my specialist for specific instructions - performing manual cervical (though my specialist called it cranial) traction while I lay on a PT table. I had my first appointment and eval today.
My specialist wants me to also use a home cervical traction device, but I am not to use it until I bring it in to the PT for her to show me how to use it properly. Sitting in a chair, 20 minutes a day and 20 lbs pressure.
Same thing with the cervical collar - my specialist wants me to wear it 4 hours a day till surgery. I emailed him this weekend asking if I can just go buy one as I know it will help my pain/pressure (he'd lifted my head in a gentle yet firm way in our office visit which instantly reduced the pain/pressure) but he asked that I try to wait until after he gets the report back from the PT about today's eval and session (and my feedback as to how I responded).
So I just wanted to throw out there that we may want to be cautious about cervical traction without being under a doctor's care.
ETA - I just read further and found out more about the MRI requirements...then called my MRI imaging center where I had an open MRI with the flexion/extension and the receptionist said their machine is only a .3 Tesla...I hope she is wrong - But anyway most of my questions I guess have been answered ---
Also, just out of curiosity - @jeff_w - I had a cervical MRI laying down but Dr. K added extension and flexion (which my PCP was happy to include). This is the MRI he showed Dr. Bolognese who says I'm a candidate for both the CCI surgery but also CSF leaks (which Dr. K already suspected, I was referred to Dr. C at Stanford and accepted but they are so booked up they have no idea when I could be seen - and now knowing I need CCI/AAI surgery too, obviously Dr. C at Stanford is not the person for me). But it sounded like from what I've read here that you have to have an MRI standing and I did not. Is this a new advance in diagnostics, to your knowledge? I will ask Dr. K when we have our next consult but that may be a month.
Lastly - @jeff_w - I can not thank you enough for all that you have shared here. I am completely overwhelmed with all the things I need to do for this surgery in addition to my other diagnosis I'm dealing with and it is nice to read your story and inspiring to hear of your recovery.
Thanks also to @Gingergrrl for telling me to read about your story.