The 6 Best Neck Traction Devices [Updated for 2021]
Neck traction, also known as cervical traction, is a popular neck stretching method to relieve neck pain for anyone suffering from neck arthritis, herniated/bulging disc in the neck, neck strains, and cervical muscle spasms.
The answers are right here.
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You can stretch and decompress your cervical spine effectively and safely at home – as long as you learn how to do it and which neck stretcher is best for you.
In this post, you’ll find how to do neck traction at home safely and effectively, and the top neck stretchers (cervical tractors) – in 2021.
- 1 The 6 Best Neck Traction Home Devices
- 2 What is Cervical Traction and How Does it Work?
- 3 Dangers of Cervical Traction
- 4 How to Do Neck Traction at NIGHT (Neck Traction Pillow)
- 5 Neck Traction FAQ
The 6 Best Neck Traction Home Devices
You can basically choose from 4 types of neck traction home devices. They can get you about the same results but they are somewhat different. These include inflatable neck stretchers, over-the-door neck stretchers, neck traction slings, and neck posture pumps.
If you’re in a hurry, here are our top recommended neck stretcher devices for 2021:
|Device Type||Our Rating||Price|
|Go to Full Review||✅ $366 at HPFY |
|Jump to pros & cons||✅ $42 at Carex|
|Jump to pros & cons||✅ Check Price on Amazon|
|Go to Full Review||✅ From $149 at Posture Pump|
|Saunders Cervical Traction ||Posture Pump|
|Go to Full Review||✅ $348 at HPFY|
|The Neck Hammock||Neck Sling|
|Jump to pros & cons||✅ Check Price on Amazon|
And here’s a detailed explanation about each device:
1. Inflatable Neck Traction (Air Traction) Devices
Air neck traction devices (inflatable cervical collars) are basically inflated neck braces. You secure them around your neck (great for neck posture as well) and use the pump to inflate them. As the pillow gets filled with air, it straightens takes the weight off your neck, and pushes down your shoulders.
You use the pump to gradually raise the level of air to a comfortable stretch.
What happens then?
Your muscles relax and your discs are aligned and ready for re-hydration. You are also taking the pressure off your nerves and blood vessels.
Here’s how to use an inflatable neck puller collar:
Air Neck Traction Pros
- Air neck traction devices are easy to use, require no assembly, and are completely portable. You can easily take them anywhere and use them at the office or while traveling. You can use them while sitting or lying down, any way you’d like.
- Not all air neck traction devices are made of high-quality materials. One unit I had started leaking after I’ve used it only 6 times, so you really have to know which one is the best (see below).
- They can apply a bit too much pressure on your TMJ since the pillow inflates around the jaw as well.
✅ The Best Inflatable Neck Stretcher
The Forent inflatable neck traction device helps align your cervical spine, correct your posture and stretch your spine and neck muscles, which alleviates neck pain and helps heal bulging discs, pinched nerves, neck arthritis, and degenerative discs.
We also like the unique safety feature which allows you to quickly deflate the device if you accidentally inflate it too much.
2. Over the Door Neck Traction Kits
Over-the-door neck traction devices require, as hinted in the name, a door. They require some assembly because you have to place them over the back of a door.
The neck puller device requires you to place straps around the back of your head and your chin (see the picture above), which then attaches to a counterweight. The counterweight is suspended over a door using a pulley system.
Over the Door Neck Traction Pros
- An over-the-door device is fairly easy to use once you’ve placed it correctly and made sure the door is solid. You can then sit comfortably on a chair and read something while traction works its magic.
- Over-the-door devices are less portable than air neck devices. You’ll need a solid door and a chair to use it and you can’t lie down and relax.
- It can take some time to find the right stretch and your chin may take the brunt of the traction force.
- But, it still gives you the same benefits and if you use it correctly it can bring you much neck pain relief.
✅ The BEST Over the Door Traction Device
Our highest recommendation goes to:
Made with a sturdy metal bracket, the Carex neck overdoor neck traction kit is easy to use and the calibrated weight bag allows you to vary the pressure on your neck (2-20 pounds) for quick and effective neck pain relief, and the adjustable head fits most people.
The Carex is a cost-effective cervical traction unit and comes with everything you need, though the company recommends you check with your physician for the amount of counterweight and usage time for your specific needs.
3. The Neck Hammock (Neck Traction Sling)
Neck Hammocks are gaining popularity in recent years, probably because they are really simple to use, they work (if you know how to use them), and are relatively low cost.
The neck hammock creates neck traction by pulling your head away from your shoulders. This makes your neck muscles relax and relieves the pressure off them effectively.
It also slightly expands the space around your neck vertebrae, which allows for more blood flow (and oxygen!) to the area – bringing pain-relieving and healing components – faster and better.
👉 The only con is, you have to move a bit forward on the floor to start feeling the traction.
Through our research, the original neck hammock works well for cervical pinched nerves.
DIY Neck Hammock
A lot of people have asked us whether it’s possible to make your own neck hammock.
The answer is yes. All you’ll need is a good towel and a rope.
But we want to warn you: You have to do this the right way, since any “malfunction” may cause you to bang your head on the floor. We recommend buying a professional neck hammock and not take a chance.
- Fold your towel three times to narrow the length and width and to create a base for your head.
- Create two holes on each side of the towel to create a loop, and slide the rope between the two holes.
- Your neck hammock is ready. Now you need to find a sturdy base to tie the rope to, like a doorknob.
- Once you’re done, just rest your head on the hammock.
Here’s a video with a good demonstration:
4. Neck Posture Pumps (Disc Hydrators)
Posture pumps are usually a bit pricier, but they can be worth every cent when it comes to neck pain healing and recovering.
Posture pump units are well-built and are heavy-duty pieces of quality durable medical equipment.
They simulate cervical traction performed in a clinic and are nearly identical as far as the quality of treatment goes.
- Posture pumps are larger, provide stronger traction, and are made with durable material. They are light and portable and come in a handy carrying case.
- They require no assembly and have a softer, more comfortable head pad and straps.
You simply lie down, adjust the little knob/posts that secure the base of your skull, and place the strap on your forehead. Then you just pump up the pressure and tighten.
Posture Pump Pros
- Posture pumps are usually sturdier, made with more durable materials, and work with no problems for years.
- They don’t use pillows that can leak air and they don’t need a door to support them.
- They all have a handy carrying bag that protects them if you want to take them with you anywhere.
- They don’t put pressure on your jaw or anywhere other than where it should be.
- Portable and fit for travel
- These units are less portable than the air neck traction devices, and they take up a bit more room. You can only use them lying down.
- The price is higher, but in my opinion – well worth it. Especially if you consider the money you are saving on dozens of chiropractor treatments.
✅ The BEST Posture Pumps for Neck Traction
Here are our two most recommended posture pumps of 2021:
The ComforTrac posture pump is a durable and sturdy neck traction device, easy to use, and comfortable, and many users report immediate results after using it.
👉 See our detailed Comfortrac Cervical Traction Review
Posture Pump Alternative
If you’re not sure about posture pumps, consider using an inversion table. See our full comparison between the posture pump and the inversion table, to decide what’s best for your needs.
2. Saunders Cervical Traction Home Unit
👉 See our full review for the Saunders Cervical Traction.
We also recommend…The Cervical Posture Pump
What is Cervical Traction and How Does it Work?
In traction, the goal is to provide the opportunity for your neck muscles and pinched nerves to be released. Tension is placed on the head to pull it up and away from the neck, stretching the muscles and ligaments around the vertebrae of the spine and expanding the space between the vertebrae.
For many people, neck traction equipment provides fast neck pain relief – without medication – and faster recovery from neck injuries, including:
- Cervical herniated and bulging disc
- Pinched nerve
- Neck stiffness
- Neck muscle pain
- Degenerative disc disease
- Cervical spine arthritis
Now everything is in place and the awful pain and stiffness can be dramatically reduced. And all of this is done without medication and unnecessary surgeries.
👉 Are these claims backed by science?
This 2017 meta-analysis of studies found that mechanical cervical traction significantly reduced neck pain – immediately after treatment and in the follow-up period.
Dangers of Cervical Traction
Generally, it’s safe to perform cervical traction, but remember that results are different for everyone. The treatment should be totally pain-free. If you feel pain, you are overdoing it and this aggressiveness may lead to further damage and pain.
However, If you’ve already had neck surgery, it’s not recommended to do neck traction at home. Do not overdo traction, because it can cause more harm than good and overstretch your neck.
We recommend following instructions carefully and asking your doctor for treatment time and frequency.
Possible side effects of neck traction are headache, dizziness, and nausea. If you feel any of these, stop treatment immediately.
Consult with your doctor before you start treatment if you have:
- Recent injury in the neck area
- A bone infection
- A known cervical tumor
- Osteoporosis/rheumatoid arthritis
- Cervical instability
- Spinal hypermobility
How to Do Neck Traction at NIGHT (Neck Traction Pillow)
If your neck pain is mostly caused by your sleeping position and comes usually at night or in the morning, a neck traction pillow can be your lifesaver.
👉 See our post about how to choose the best pillow for neck pain.
Neck Traction FAQ
What is neck traction?
Cervical traction devices lightly stretch the neck to reduce pressure on the spine by pulling or separating the vertebrae. This allows the neck muscles to relax, reduce stiffness and pain, and treat bulging or herniated discs, and neck spondylitis.
Who can benefit from neck traction?
Anyone suffering from the following neck issues can benefit from neck traction: neck muscle pain, neck-related headaches, cervical muscle spasms, neck arthritis, herniated/bulging disc, and neck strains.
Can you do neck traction at home?
Yes, you can use several neck stretching devices at home, including inflatable cervical collars, over-the-door traction, neck traction slings, and other cervical traction home units. Consult with your doctor before starting to get instructions tailored to your condition.
What do you think about neck traction? have you ever tried it to relieve neck pain? Share your experience (or ask any question) – in the comments below.
To your health and happiness,
The Back Pain Relief Products Team
Intermittent Cervical Traction for Treating Neck Pain: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, SPINE. 42(13):959–965, JULY 1ST, 2017, doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001948
International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training, v. 22, issue 5, p. 4-11