Types of Traction in Orthopedics | Principles of Traction | Purposes of Traction

What is Traction in Orthopedics?

In the case of orthopedic medicine, traction mentions the set of mechanisms for straightening the broken bones or relieving pressure on the spine and skeletal system. The main purpose of traction is to regain the normal length and alignment of the involved bone.
Traction in orthopedics
Fig: Traction in orthopedics

Principles of Traction in Orthopedics:

There are some key principles of traction which are mentioned below:

  1. In orthopedic, traction is a process of pulling structures of the musculoskeletal system to reduce and immobilize a fracture.
  2. Traction provides accurate bone alignment and also reduces muscle spasms.
  3. For traction to achieve its purpose, it requires counter traction, a force opposite to the mechanical pull. Counter-traction is usually supplied by the client’s own weight.
  4. To apply the force needed to overcome the natural force or pull of muscle groups, a system of ropes, pulleys, and weight is used.
What is the Purpose of Traction in Orthopedics?

All the purposes of traction have listed in the following:

  1. To reduce and immobilize a fracture,
  2. To retrieve the original length and alignment of an injured extremity,
  3. To lessen or eliminate muscle spasm,
  4. To prevent deformity,
  5. To give the patient freedom for “in-bed” activities,
  6. To reduce the pain.
Principles of Effective Traction in Orthopedics:

Principles of effective traction are-

  1. Maintain proper body alignment,
  2. Apply the exact amount of weight prescribed,
  3. Ensure that the weights do not touch the floor and hang freely,
  4. Do not lift or remove the weights without a physician’s suggestion,
  5. Suspend splints and slings without interference,
  6. Ensure that the pulleys are not obstructed and that ropes in the pulleys move freely,
  7. Place notes in the ropes to prevent slipping,
  8. Check the ropes for fraying.
What are the Types of Traction in Orthopedics?

Different types of traction have discussed below:

1. Running Traction:

It includes-

  • A form of traction in which the pull is exerted in one plan,
  • It may use either skin or skeletal traction,
  • Buck’s extension traction is one of the examples of running skin traction.
2. Balanced Suspension Traction:


  • Uses additional weights to counterbalance the traction force and floats the extremity in the traction apparatus,
  • Used with skin or skeletal traction,
  • Used to conjectural fractures of the tibia, femur, or fibula,
  • Despite changes in the patient’s position, the line of pull on the extremity remains fairly constant.
  • Position the client in low Fowler’s on either the side of the back,
  • From the thigh to the bed, maintain a 20-degree angle,
  • Protect the skin from breakdown,
  • If pins are used with skeletal traction, provide pin care,
  • Clean the pin sites with sterile normal saline and hydrogen peroxide or Beta-dine as prescribed or per agency procedure.

3. Dunlop’s Traction:
Vertical traction maintains the forearm in proper alignment and horizontal traction to align fractures of the humerus.


  • To the traction, a boot appliance is applied to attach.
  • Weight is normally attached to a pulley; consent the weights to hang freely over the edge of the bed.
  • No more than 8-10 pounds of weight should be applied.
  • To provide traction, elevate the foot of the bed.

More questions related to this article:

  1. What do you mean by traction in orthopedics?
  2. What is traction?
  3. Define traction.
  4. What are the key principles of traction in orthopedics?
  5. What are the purposes of traction in orthopedics?
  6. Describe different types of traction in orthopedics?
  7. What are the principles of traction in physiotherapy?
  8. What type of traction is Buck’s traction?

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