According to Oxford Reference, Russell traction is a type of skin traction used to stabilize and align the lower extremities. The patient's leg is suspended in a sling and attached to pulleys, strings and weights, which serve to gently draw the bones into alignment.
The World Health Organization explains that there are two main types of traction: skin traction and skeletal traction. Skin traction involves putting pressure on the skin to move the bone. Flinders University School of Medicine states that skin traction must only be used as a temporary measure as layers of skin can begin to peel off if exposed to weights greater than 8 pounds. Examples of skin traction include Russell traction and Buck traction.
Skeletal traction is used when higher weights are needed according to the World Health Organization. This technique involves placing a metal pin in the bone and applying pressure to the pin to adjust the bone. Skeletal traction can safely use up to one-seventh of the body's weight to control the fracture.
According to Flinders University School of Medicine, traction is an expensive procedure due to the continuous care and watchfulness required on the part of the hospital staff to make sure the correct pressure is applied and to help the patient stay comfortable.