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CPT Code 97012 | Mechanical Traction

CPT code 97012 describes the application of mechanical traction as a form of physical therapy to alleviate pain and improve mobility in one or more areas of the body.

What Is Mechanical Traction?

Mechanical traction is a widely accepted non-surgical method for treating various spinal conditions.

The techniques depend on the patient’s condition, disorder, tolerance level, and the spine being treated.

Traction can be applied on a regular or continuous basis. The gentle pulling force helps alleviate pain by separating the vertebrae, widening the intervertebral foramen to relieve nerve root compression, and promoting improved circulation and disc fluid movement.

This treatment is highly effective for degenerative joint disease, herniated discs, neck, arm, leg, and back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

What Is CPT Code 97012?

CPT code 97012 can be used for mechanical traction as a form of physical therapy.

The procedure involves the application of a mechanical device to stretch or pull the spine or other areas of the body to alleviate pain and improve mobility.

The mechanical device can be a head halter, a motorized split-traction table, or similar equipment.

The therapist may continuously or intermittently apply the traction during the session and use electrical muscle stimulation to relax the muscles and ligaments.

CPT 97012 can be used to bill for the treatment of various conditions, including degenerative joint disease, herniated discs, neck, arm, leg, and back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.


The CPT book describes CPT code 97012 as: “Application of a modality to 1 or more areas; traction, mechanical.”


Before beginning the mechanical traction procedure, the physician thoroughly evaluates the patient to determine the appropriate type, amount of weight, and duration of traction.

The physician considers factors such as the patient’s condition, disorder, tolerance level, and the level of the spine being treated to ensure that the therapy is customized to the patient’s specific needs and to achieve the best possible outcome.

Mechanical traction typically involves a series of 10-12 minute sessions, 2-3 times a week.

The length and frequency of the sessions may vary depending on the patient’s condition and the physician’s recommendation. Sometimes, the therapy may be extended to a longer duration if the patient responds well to the treatment.

Cervical traction: a mechanical device is used, and the patient lies on their back with a head halter placed under the back of the head and jaw, attached to a machine.

The therapist sets a specific weight and time for the pulling action to be continuous or intermittent during the session to ensure that the cervical spine gets the appropriate amount of traction for the patient’s condition.

Lumbar traction: a motorized split-traction table is utilized, with the patient in a pelvic harness attached to one end. The therapist programs some motorized units to maintain the traction session.

A pelvic belt with straps can also be used for distraction. The therapist may adjust the weight and duration of the traction to ensure that the lumbar spine is getting the appropriate amount of traction.

After each session, electrical muscle stimulation is applied after each session to relax the muscles and ligaments. This is done to ensure that the patient’s muscles and ligaments are relaxed and to prevent muscle soreness or strain.

How To Use CPT 97012

You can not append modifier 51 to CPT code 97012 because this code is modifier 51–exempt.

CPT 97012 does not cover the physician’s evaluation and management of the patient before and after the treatment. Therefore, these services should be billed separately using E/M codes.

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