Objective: To investigate the effects of lumbar extension traction in patients with unilateral lumbosacral radiculopathy due to L5-S1 disc herniation.
Design: A randomized controlled study with six-month follow-up.
Setting: University research laboratory.
Subjects: Sixty-four patients with confirmed unilateral lumbosacral radiculopathy due to L5-S1 disc herniation and a lumbar lordotic angle less than 39°, randomly assigned to traction or control group.
Interventions: The control group (n = 32) received hot packs and interferential therapy, whereas the traction group (n = 32) received lumbar extension traction in addition to hot packs and interferential therapy.
Main outcome measures: Absolute rotatory angle, back and leg pain rating scale, Oswestry Disability Index, Modified Schober test, H-reflex (latency and amplitude) and intervertebral movements were measured for all patients three times (before treatment, after 10 weeks of treatment and at six-month follow-up).
Results: There was a significant difference between the traction group and the control group adjusted to baseline values at 10 weeks post treatment with respect to: absolute rotatory angle (P < 0.001), Oswestry Disability Index (P = 0.002), back and leg pain (P = 0.009, P = 0.005), Modified Schober test (P = 0.002), latency and amplitude of H-reflex (P = 0.01, P < 0.001), intervertebral movements (P < 0.05). At six-month follow-up there were statistically significant differences between the study and control groups for all the previous variables (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: The traction group receiving lumbar extension traction in addition to hot packs and interferential therapy had better effects than the control group with regard to pain, disability, H-reflex parameters and segmental intervertebral movements.