Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Gary Schindler


Neck Pain -- therapy; Shoulder Pain -- therapy; Temporomandibular Joint Disorders -- therapy; Traction -- rehabilitation; Case Reports


Background and Purpose: According to Hoya et aI, neck pain is a common problem throughout the world, affecting 10.4-21.3% of the population each year. 50-85% of people with a new episode of neck pain will have a recurrence of neck pain 1-5 years later. Mechanical traction is an intervention commonly used to treat neck disorders; however, there is little current research supporting or refuting the effectiveness of the use of mechanical traction for neck pain. The purpose of this case report is to discuss the effectiveness of using mechanical traction in one patient with a recurring incidence of neck, shoulder, and temporomandibular (TMJ) pain.

Case Description: A 40 year old female presented to physical therapy with neck, shoulder, and TMJ pain for the past eight months after a whiplash injury. She previously had this same problem two years prior and said it was completely resolved with mechanical traction, only after several unsuccessful attempts with other interventions. The patient was seen for five visits over a 15 day period. She was diagnosed based on findings during the examination and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results. Interventions were chosen based on her diagnosis and previous successful treatments with mechanical traction.

Discussion: The use of mechanical traction appeared to have decreased the patient's neck, shoulder and TMJ symptoms. Other interventions were utilized including exercise, stretching, and STM. Therefore it is difficult to prove whether or not the use of mechanical traction improved the patient's symptoms