The 6 Best Neck Traction Devices (for Home Use)
Neck traction, also known as cervical traction, is a popular and science-backed 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.
Chiropractors can do this by hand but will often use neck stretcher devices, too. With a high-quality and safe neck stretcher, you can achieve this relief at home – for a fraction of the cost.
What are the best neck stretchers to use at home?
The answers are right here.
You can stretch and decompress your cervical spine effectively and safely at home – as long as you learn how to do it and find which neck stretcher is best for you.
We’ve researched and found the top neck stretchers (cervical traction devices) – in 2023.
👉 In a Hurry?
If you’re in a hurry, here are our top recommended neck stretcher devices in 2023. Below you’ll find our full reviews and pros and cons:
|Neck Stretcher||Device Type||Price|
|ComforTrac Cervical Traction||Posture Pump|
|✅ $293 on Amazon|
|DMI Over Door||Over the Door|
|✅ $20 at Walmart|
|Crabclaw Inflatable Collar||Inflatable |
|✅ $26 on Amazon|
|The Cervical Posture Pump||Posture Pump|
|✅ From $149 at Posture Pump|
|RESTCLOUD Neck Stretcher||Orthopedic - Arched|
|✅ $20 on Amazon|
|The Neck Hammock||Neck Sling|
|✅ $40 at Walmart|
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- How Does a Neck Traction Device Work?
- Neck Traction Types & The Best Neck Stretchers
- Cervical Traction Devices Side Effects
- How to Do Neck Traction at Night
- Neck Traction FAQ
How Does a Neck Traction Device Work?
With cervical traction devices, 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.
Can Cervical Traction Devices Relieve Neck Pain?
This 2017 meta-analysis found that mechanical cervical traction significantly reduced neck pain – immediately after treatment and in the follow-up period.
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
Home neck traction units (and cervical pillows) gently stretch the spinal vertebrae and muscles.
This immediately relieves the pressure on the discs and the nerves.
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.
Neck Traction Types & The Best Neck Stretchers
You can choose from 5 types of neck traction home devices.
They can get you about the same results but they are somewhat different.
These include inflatable neck stretchers, orthopedic (arched) neck stretchers, over-the-door neck stretchers, neck traction slings, and cervical posture pumps.
1. Inflatable Neck Stretchers (Air Traction)
Air neck traction devices (inflatable cervical collars) are basically inflated neck braces, that look just like 3 travel pillows stacked together.
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 and takes the weight off your neck, while pushing down your shoulders.
It is fully adjustable which is key to its effectiveness.
As you use the pump to gradually raise the level of air to a comfortable stretch – your muscles relax and your discs are aligned and ready for rehydration.
You are also taking the pressure off your nerves and blood vessels.
Here’s how to use an inflatable neck puller collar:
Inflatable 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’d 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 Crabclaw inflatable neck traction device ($26 on Amazon) 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 attach 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 sit comfortably on a chair and read something while traction works its magic.
- Over-the-door devices are less portable than inflatable 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
The DMI Over-the-Door Neck Traction Kit ($20 at Walmart) is made with a sturdy metal bracket, is safe 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.
The adjustable head fits most people.
It is a cost-effective cervical traction unit and comes with everything you need, though we recommend 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 have gained 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, that you have to move a bit forward on the floor to start feeling the traction.
Through our research, the Original Neck Hammock ($40 at Walmart) 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 taking 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. Cervical Posture Pumps (Disc Hydrators)
Posture pumps are usually a bit pricier, but they can be worth their price when it comes to neck pain healing and recovery.
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.
Cervical 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
Here are our two most recommended posture pumps for 2023:
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.
This top-of-the-line cervical traction kit supplies up to 50 pounds of force and has an adjustable incline angle of 10, 15, or 20 degrees.
👉 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 of the Saunders Cervical Traction.
We also recommend…The Cervical Posture Pump
5. Orthopedic Neck Stretchers
Arched neck stretchers are similar to the popular orthopedic back stretchers but designed to stretch the neck at various levels manually.
When you lie on it, you can choose from 4 adjustable settings (to match your comfort level and pain level).
It matches the curvature of your cervical spine and stretches it to a correct posture while giving your neck a good manual stretch.
It only requires 5 minutes of daily treatment to get long-term results such as neck stiffness relief, migraine relief, and cervical decompression for bulging/herniated discs.
And the price is affordable too.
Best Orthopedic Neck Stretcher
Our top recommendation in 2023 goes to RESTCLOUD Neck Stretcher, which can support up to 330 lbs and has a foam cushion that protects your spine. It costs less than $20 on Amazon.
Cervical Traction Devices Side Effects
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
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 very helpful.
👉 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 discs, 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.
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