Natchev's auto-traction for lumbago-sciatica: effectiveness in lumbar disc herniation

L. Tesio, G. Luccarelli, M. Fornari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Lind's auto-traction (LAT) for lumbago-sciatica, the patient provides traction force by pulling with the arms on a specially designed table, which also allows painless mobilization of the lumbar spine and passive traction. Two studies reported that one to 15 one-hour sessions on successive days might be sufficient to relieve pain in 25% to 90% of cases with verified lumbar disc herniation. Unfortunately, the technique imposes tiring manual efforts on the therapist and requires that the patient be transported by ambulance and confined to bed for a long time. These inconveniences were removed in a new version of the treatment proposed by Natchev. The effectiveness of Natchev's auto-traction (NAT) was evaluated in an open prospective trial on 77 patients with chronic lumbago-sciatica refractory to previous therapies, and herniation of one or more lumbar discs verified by computed tomography (CT) or myelography. Thirty-six of the 77 patients (47%) responded to the treatment in three to ten (median = 5) half-hour sessions. Pain intensity dropped to 27% (median) of the pretreatment intensity. Six months after treatment, 28 of the 36 responders were stable; only four had undergone surgery. By contrast, 20 of the 41 nonresponders had been operated on. The severity of either the radiologic or the neurologic picture was not predictive of the outcome. NAT was as effective as LAT: thus, due to its greater convenience it appears to be suitable as a routine approach in lumbar disc herniation and as a screening technique before surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-834
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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