Lumbar extension exercises in conjunction with mechanical traction for the management of a patient with a lumbar herniated disc

Allison R. Gagne, Scott M. Hasson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Low back pain resulting from lumbar disc herniation is a common reason for referral for physical therapy. There is no evidence to support the management of lumbar disc herniation and derangement using mechanical traction combined with lumbar extension exercises. Therefore, the purpose of this case report was to describe and discuss the use of mechanical traction in conjunction with lumbar extension exercises for a patient with a lumbar herniated disc. The patient was a 49-year-old male referred to physical therapy with a medical diagnosis of a lumbar herniated disc at L5-S1 with compression of the L5 nerve root confirmed by MRI. The patient's chief complaint was pain over the left lumbosacral and central lumbar region with radiating pain into the left buttock accompanied by numbness and tingling in the left lower leg and foot. The patient was seen for a total of 14 visits. The first 5 days (2 weeks) of therapy consisted of lumbar extension exercises. For the following nine visits (over a 3-week period), mechanical traction was added as an adjunct to the extension exercises. Outcome measures included the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire, Back Pain Function Scale (BPFS), and the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS). Results from initial evaluation to discharge (Oswestry: 36% to 0%; BPFS: 33/60 to 57/60; NPRS: 7/10 to 0/10) demonstrated that the patient no longer experienced low back pain and improved in terms of functional status and pain-related disability. The patient no longer complained of numbness and tingling in the left lower extremity and the goals for the patient had been attained. The data from this case report suggests lumbar extension exercises in conjunction with mechanical traction facilitated the patient's improvement in pain and return to prior level of function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-266
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiotherapy theory and practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 29 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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