How Many Newtons to Distract the Hip?

Home Long Axis Traction Options


In this excerpt from his workshop at the OPTA Conference in 2016, Dr. Tony Rocklin, a leading advocate for the expanded use of physical therapy in pre-surgical management of hip osteoarthritis, discusses a couple of the different ways patients can use traction at home to decrease pain and improve mobility. One of the key considerations in determining which method chosen is the amount of traction force supplied by each method and the amount of force needed to achieve the goal.  Studies show that the force needed to distract the conscious human hip is 400 N (Newtons) +/- 50. Superbands and inversion tables can provide light traction, but not sufficient to create deformation to the joint capsule which is needed to make real changes in mobility with moderate to severe hip OA.  If the goal is gentle unloading in the case of a hypermobile dancer with a labral tear who is looking for pain relief only, then Superbands can work just fine.  Inversion tables can provide relief as well, but they do not isolate the hip joint.  In cases of needing hip traction, but not lumbar traction, inversion tables would not suffice.  If the goal is to isolate the hip joint (femoral-acetabular) and to mobilize the joint capsule to improve mobility, then the only device that can do this is HipTrac.  HipTrac can deliver 0-1000 N because of the customized pneumatic cylinder and coupling technique it uses.  Although 400 N is the therapeutic minimum for capsular deformation, higher forces of 800 N have been shown to provide superior outcomes as it relates to mobility, functional index and pain scores.  (Click here to view some selected studies)

Watch the video below. You can see other excerpts from Dr Rocklin’s presentation here.

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