Traction is a process by which a limb is stretched in order to better position a deformed bone into its normal anatomical alignment, while also pulling apart two ends of a fractured bone which may otherwise result in the grating of each end of the bone (crepitus), pain, and potential neurovascular damage.
Due to the muscles of the body’s natural desire to shorten (ordinarily held at bay by the strength of the limb bones) any fracture to a long bone in the body (such as femur or humerus) is likely to result in a sudden shortening of the surrounding muscles and consequential overlapping of fracture bone structures and high likelihood of neurovascular damage.
In order to reduce these complications traction splints should be applied.
Unfortunately, traction splinting will not work or should not be attempted in all fractures. Particularly, the following injuries are contraindicated for tractioning: ankle injuries, fractured NOF, fractured pelvis, dislocation to the hip, fractures to the distal third of the tibia and fibula, and fractures or dislocations to the knee.