August 9th, 2016
Traction therapy has a number of applications in the field of medicine. For example, healthcare providers have successfully used traction therapy in the management of musculoskeletal issues such as management of bone fracture, defects of bone mineral density, restoration of muscle mass, management of soft tissue injuries, spinal surgeries, elongation of skin for plastic surgery procedures etc. (1)
Since penis is also a soft tissue, investigators proposed many years ago that traction therapy can help in penile lengthening. As part of therapy, an external device is connected to the penis that maintains a persistent pull or traction on the tissue. Generally a traction of up to 3-4 hours each day for a period of 2-4 months is associated with quality results. For example, according to a study reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (2), investigators proposed that men who have shorter penises can greatly benefit from penile traction therapy prior to more definitive procedures (like penile prosthesis implantation).
As part of procedure, 10 patients were recruited. These individuals were due to undergo penile prosthetic implant surgery for a variety of reasons such as refractory erectile dysfunction, short length of penis, radical prostatectomy etc. After undergoing penile traction therapy for a period of 4 months (2-4 hour per day), more than 70% participants achieved a notable improvement in the size of penis, without any complications. Besides penile implantation, various other surgical and cosmetic procedures of penis (such as radical prostatectomy) are also preceded by traction therapy to prevent/ minimize the shortening of penis.
Traction therapy involves application of persistent pressure or pull on the soft tissues. Due to constant pull, muscle tissue undergoes expansion due to:
Most of these effects are mediated by growth factors and hormones that are released in response to persistent traction or pull.
According to a new study reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (3), persistent pull or traction can dramatically reduce the tension in the scar tissue or fibrous plaques. Part of this activity is mediated by the release of specialized enzymes such as collagenase and metalloproteinases. Long term traction therapy is also known to expand and soften the scar tissue in Peyronie’s disease.
The effectiveness of penile traction therapy has been proved by several experiments and research studies. This therapy has proven efficacy in greatly improving the penile length and curvature. Moreover, combining penile traction therapy with interferon α-2b or verapamil can further improve the quality of results in patients living with Peyronie’s disease.
Penile traction therapy is a less invasive method (compared to other options). In addition, it also has positive applications in the penile lengthening procedures, whether the person has undergone penile surgery or not.
Study conducted by James Rybak and associates (4) suggested that length of penis can be preserved in Peyronie’s disease (PD) with traction therapy. Rybak recruited patients with Peyronie’s disease in either of the two groups, treatment group (who underwent traction therapy for up to 2 hours each day) and control group (who didn’t receive traction therapy). After the study period, it was observed that about 58% PD patients reported an improvement of 1.1 cm in penile length after undergoing traction therapy. On the contrary, 85% PD patients who were in the control group lost a mean length of 0.53 cm.
However, despite the beneficial results obtained via number of clinical trials, some investigators still question the credibility and long term effectiveness of this method.
1. Wei, J. (2012). Clinical evaluation of sacral canal injection plus traction therapy for acute lumbar disc protrusion. Journal of Luzhou Medical College, 4, 022.
2. Levine, L. A., & Rybak, J. (2011). Traction therapy for men with shortened penis prior to penile prosthesis implantation: a pilot study. The journal of sexual medicine, 8(7), 2112-2117.
3. Levine, L. A., Newell, M., & Taylor, F. L. (2008). Penile traction therapy for treatment of Peyronie’s disease: A single‐center pilot study. The journal of sexual medicine, 5(6), 1468-1473.
4. Rybak, J., Papagiannopoulos, D., & Levine, L. (2012). A retrospective comparative study of traction therapy vs. no traction following tunica albuginea plication or partial excision and grafting for Peyronie’s disease: measured lengths and patient perceptions. The journal of sexual medicine, 9(9), 2396-2403.
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