What Is Traction?

In the medical field, traction refers to the practice of slowly and gently pulling on a fractured or dislocated body part. It’s
often done using ropes, pulleys, and weights. These tools help apply force to the tissues surrounding the damaged area.

The purpose of traction is to guide the body part back into place and hold it steady. Traction may be used to:

 stabilize and realign bone fractures, such as a broken arm or leg

 help reduce the pain of a fracture before surgery

 treat bone deformities caused by certain conditions, such as scoliosis

 correct stiff and constricted muscles, joints, tendons, or skin

 stretch the neck and prevent painful muscle spasms

What Are the Different Types of Traction?

The two main types of traction are skeletal traction and skin traction. The type of traction used will depend on the
location and the nature of the problem.

Skeletal Traction

 Skeletal traction involves placing a pin, wire, or screw in the fractured bone. After one of these devices has been
inserted, weights are attached to it so the bone can be pulled into the correct position. This type of surgery may
be done using a general, spinal, or local anesthetic to keep you from feeling pain during the procedure.

 The amount of time needed to perform skeletal traction will depend on whether it’s a preparation for a more
definitive procedure or the only surgery that’ll be done to allow the bone to heal.

 Skeletal traction is most commonly used to treat fractures of the femur, or thighbone. It’s also the preferred
method when greater force needs to be applied to the affected area. The force is directly applied to the bone,
which means more weight can be added with less risk of damaging the surrounding soft tissues.

Skin Traction

 Skin traction is far less invasive than skeletal traction. It involves applying splints, bandages, or adhesive tapes to
the skin directly below the fracture. Once the material has been applied, weights are fastened to it. The affected
body part is then pulled into the right position using a pulley system attached to the hospital bed.

 Skin traction is used when the soft tissues, such as the muscles and tendons, need to be repaired. Less force is
applied during skin traction to avoid irritating or damaging the skin and other soft tissues. Skin traction is rarely
the only treatment needed. Instead, it’s usually used as a temporary way to stabilize a broken bone until the
definitive surgery is performed.

appropriate to the specific procedure. The order will state the type of . Skin traction will make use of several of the following: solutions. Find out what the client. Make sure all appliances are the right size for the particular client. 12. padding. Check that both are aligned properly for the traction you are carrying out. If tape is to applied the skin relative position of the client. Some client in traction cannot move as much as those in intermittent skin traction. attach the ropes to the . 8. Identify the client. the allowances for restriction on the activity of the client.To be sure you are carrying the procedure for the correct 7. . boots. bandages. With some types of skin is often shaved beforehand so that pain when tape is traction. weights. boots. Provide for privacy and drape the client as appropriate. Explain the procedure. and at regular interval thereafter. Assess the client for possible complication of traction. the client’s body weight serves as the being removed will be lessened. 11.For infection control. Check the order. . . Gather the equipment you need. 9. To secure the traction. any type of skin traction is initiated. Using the hooks provided. pulleys. whether weights are to be used intermittently or continuously and how much the client will be allowed to turn or move. trapeze. If circulation for example is less than adequate. . 5. The assessment should include all systems with special emphasis on circulation. 4. It is essential to make a careful assessment of the client initially. Place the bed in proper position. footrests and footboards. 13. physician has told the client and explain the purpose of the traction. Wash your hands. motor function. the weight to be applied. and should be followed accurately by the nurse. spreadbars. APPLYING TRACTION PROCEDURE RATIONALE 1. 6. or halters. 2. Thread and not ropes through lubricated pulleys. and sensation in any extremity affected. ropes. slings. special padding over bony prominences may have to be added to prevent skin breakdown. 3.To prevent the complication of immobilization.The degree of pull tension required for the effective 10. Tincture of benzoin counterbalance necessitating elevation of the foot or the solution maybe applied to protect the skin before head of the bed. harness.The order for traction is written by the physician and traction to be used. Ensure that an assistance you might need will be available. apply the type. Cleanse and prepare the skin according to the traction often depends on the level of the bed and the procedure of the facility. taoes.

Chart the type of traction applied. pulleys. Are the skeletal pin sites free of inflammation or infection. or wrappings by gently tugging on the attached rope. . 14. all personal possessions. Take care not to exert any additional pressure when adding padding. Place the Call signal. and the client’s tolerance of the procedure. 17. Tape the end of the rope. 20. . Ropes and pulleys may also need some adjustments. 18.To avoid jerking the body part. misalign the traction but cause a fall. add one at a time with a gentle motion. and items needed for self care with easy reach. If more than one weight is to be applied. Evaluate the following: a.Having to reach for objects or call signal could not only placed and unobstructed.To correct alignment. Carefully check that all appliances are functioning effectively. boot. Are all ropes. .client’s appliance. Wash your hands for infection control. You may need to add paddings to bony prominences. . 15. Does the client show any signs of complication of immobility especially skin breakdown? 19. 21. Make any necessary adjustments. Check for the security of the tapes. c. any observation or concerns. d. 16.To avoid fraying. and weights correctly . Is the client comfortable? b.

and joints • Fractures and sprains • Reduced joint dislocations Splinting Equipment • Stockinette • Splinting material • Plaster • Strips or rolls (2-. feet. It can also be used if you have a severe strain or sprain in one of your limbs. 3-.or 6-inch widths) • Prefabricated Splint Rolls • Plaster • Fiberglass with polypropylene padding (at CMH) • Padding (Webril) • Ace Wrap • Bucket/receptacle of warm water • Trauma sheers . a splint will help ease the pain of an injury by making sure that the wounded area does not move. Indications for Splinting • Acute arthritis.What Is a Splint? A splint is a piece of medical equipment used to keep an injured body part from moving and to protect it from any further damage. A splint is often used to stabilize a broken bone while the injured person is taken to the hospital for more advanced treatment. Placed properly. 4. including acute gout • Severe contusions and abrasions • Skin lacerations that cross joints • Tendon lacerations • Tenosynovitis • Puncture wounds/bites to the hands.

capillary refill. mold the plaster to conform to the shape of the extremity • Use the palms of your hand rather than the fingers • Place the patient’s extremity in the position desired • Keep the patient still until the splint has dried and hardened (the plaster will become warm as it’s drying) • Fast-drying: 5-8 minutes • Extra-fast drying: 2-4 minutes • After the splint has dried. arterial pulse. temperature of skin. and sensation .General Splinting Procedure • Measure and prepare the plaster • Apply the stockinette so that it extends 2 or 3 inches beyond the plaster • Apply 2 or 3 layers of Webril over the area to be splinted • Be generous • Avoid wrinkles • Place extra padding around bony prominences • Place Webril between digits that are going to be splinted to avoid maceration • Wet the plaster and place it over the area to be splinted • Submerge the premeasured plaster in unused warm water • Remove the splint from the water and squeeze out the excess water and remove wrinkles • Fold the ends of stockinette over the the plaster to smooth the edges of the splint • Place a layer of Webril over the plaster • Apply the ace wrap around the splint to secure it in place • Unwrap the bandage without placing too much tension around the extremity • While still wet. check the splinted extremity for function.