Advice on Cervical Traction.

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REDSAM
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 95
   Posted 1/30/2009 9:20 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello all!  I hope you are having a better pain day today, than yesterday.  I need some advice.  I am currently suffering from two herniated discs c5-6, and c6-7, with degenerative disk disease, and some nerve impingement.  Small osteophites, etc.  This will be pain condiditon number two for me.  I already suffer from nerve damage and surgical adhesions in the lower abdomen from many surgeries in the area, so I am quite versed in the constant suffering, depression, etc that goes with pain conditions. My main problem at the moment is the neck pain.  This has already been a long road as my problem became evident at the end of summer last year.  I went to my chiro, who worked on my alignment and did some sand bag traction and soft tissue work shoulders and neck.  I did not get better, got worse.  Made an appointment with my Pain Doc, and my GP as I was miserable, pain, radiating numbness and pain down my arm to my fingers.  I love my pain doc, he has got my other pain condition under control with radiofrequency procedures.  He suggested Cervical Epidural.  (Okey dokey.)  My GP is associated with a physical therapy clinic, so he also wanted me in PT. (Okey dokey.)  Two Blocks were done, and my pain and radiating symptoms subsided by 90%, and still going from November.  PT has been working my muscles, and they are ok, but still stiff and trigger points painful.  They do stim, excersizes, and soft tissue.  They have made me get a tens unit for home, a new cervical support pillow, now a custom made brace to wear under my clothes.  NOW he wants me to get a home cervical traction unit?????????????  The one he suggest will cost me $500.00!  I asked my pain doc about all this PT stuff, and was quite surprised that he said he did not believe all this would be good for me!  To just return back if the pain returns, and we will treat it again.
 
How many of you have home cervical traction devices, and find them helpful.  I will say this, when he used the device in the office, I did not like it.  I found myself hurting.  The PT doc said that is because I was at my worse, when everything was high.  He keeps telling me I need this device to make things better.
 
I know one thing, I don't want to lift anything heavy, and no one can touch the area where the disks are herniated.  At my last sesion I don't know what the massage therapy woman was thinking, but she worked on and pushed the bones there.  NOW I am miserable, in pain, and angry.  No radiating symptoms, but I hurt.  I know if I tell him this, he will tell me... See you really need traction.
 
Sorry about the long post, I am just tired of pouring money out of my wallet for all this PT stuff.
 
Any thoughts?
 
Pain Free Hugs... Sue
Sue-Hypothyroid, Abdominal Adhesion Pain, No female parts, no gallbladder. Put a fork in me please!


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 1/30/2009 3:39 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi, Sue,
Oh, so many aspects of your post sound way too familiar to me. Although the reason for my posting here is the CP from lumbar spine problems from a fall, for well over 20 years I've had cervical spine problems, and have learned to manage the symptoms with a lot of stretches, cervical pillows, watching ergonomics, heat, etc. But before I got the right combination - and it's management not cure, as I still have symptoms to this day - I went through a series of things that made it worse.

Those included a chiropractor (I have since learned NEVER to do chiro for neck problems; I read a Harvard study that said it's too risky, but is ok for lower back) who left me with numb hands, a physical therapist who moved me wrong because she was talking to someone else while working on my neck and creating more symptoms, and massage therapists who have done pretty much what you describe. I know there are herniated disks in my neck. Heck, they were bulging on the MRI in the early 1990's! But I'm not letting anyone do anymore surgery unless I can't move. So I have learned to search for PT's and massage therapists who specialize in cervical spines, and I always ASK them in advance what they plan on doing to me and now I'm the one who dictates if I want it done or not. I have a great massage therapist (tho' I can't afford her anymore) who was great with my neck but even she wanted to move those "bones" around and I said NO to her because I know it increases my symptoms. When I look at myself in the mirror I can tell my neck is slightly crooked but as long as I can manage I will. I will say that since my lumbar spine fusion I slowly feel everything else getting worse, and I know that can happen. My range of motion in my neck is continuing to slowly worsen. Course I'm doing less activity and that doesn't help.

Anyway, you asked about traction. I would say you need to be the judge of how you feel about it and trust yourself. My PT tried traction on my lumbar spiine (before my LS fusion) and it would feel good for a day and then hurt more. He told me that's the opposite of how it's supposed to work and he stopped doing it. He wouldn't touch my neck without a doctor doing a new MRI. If you do the traction with your PT and over time it didn't help but instead hurt, I would trust yourself. Is this PT by any chance selling the traction units???

I would say the PT I had back in the 90's who I loved and really taught me everything I still do with my neck used to do hand traction. She would do the heat first. Very, very gentle strretching, and then after that gentle pulling on my neck. She said that was also traction, but she was very, very careful with me. And I learned to trust her. Unfortunately, she moved away, but I still use everything she taught me.

I don't know if my rambling helps, but it's what I've learned over the years.

PaLady

Pamela Neckpain
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 1821
   Posted 1/30/2009 8:04 PM (GMT -7)   
I haven't had ANY luck with physical therapy. I always come out worse.
That is just ME. It works for other people, I think.

A home cervical traction unit would not be for me. That's a delicate area.
I pull my neck upward with my arms. That's about all the traction I want
in that area.

Pamela
MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Osteoarthritis all levels of spine right down to Coccyx,Spondilytis,Myofascial Pain
Fibromyalgia,Bulging Discs,Spinal Stenosis,Scoliosis,Osteopenia,Chronic Constipation
Carpel Tunel Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder,
Depression & Anxiety

Methadone for Pain, Xanax for Anxiety, and more, of course.


Chartreux
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9622
   Posted 1/30/2009 9:44 PM (GMT -7)   
I have a Physical Therapist that is gentle and uses ultra sound therapy, with heat and
a tens unit with a heating pad and it's helped me. If the physical therapist is pushing you too hard
then fire him or her and find someone who'll listen to you, you have to be very careful
with the cervical part of the body and Pamela was right on about that, I can't do traction for my
lower back as the belt rides on my hip bones and I can't do traction on the cervical area either.
Are you doing any at home exercise? was just wondering, I do a few easy neck exercises each day,
but my main problem is upper left shoulder over to the neck region and lower back..
Hope your feeling better soon and keep us posted, as we care!
Lots of soft hugz..
**********************************************
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc, Fibromyalgia, Gerd, Enlarged Pituitary Gland
******** "We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world" from Helen Keller *********

********>^..^<********>^..^<********>^..^<********


Pamela Neckpain
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 1821
   Posted 1/31/2009 2:03 AM (GMT -7)   
Oh Chartreux,
I have that upper left shoulder problem over to the neck region and lower
back.
We're twins!
Now ... The thing about that left shoulder is it switches sides. Sometimes
the left. Sometimes the right. I think it's because of Scoliosis.
Do you have any Scoliosis?
Pamela

Pamela Neckpain
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 1821
   Posted 1/31/2009 2:06 AM (GMT -7)   
Sue,
I think Chartreux had some pretty good advice. I'm gonna try it.
Pamela
Hope you're feeling better.
MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Osteoarthritis all levels of spine right down to Coccyx,Spondilytis,Myofascial Pain
Fibromyalgia,Bulging Discs,Spinal Stenosis,Scoliosis,Osteopenia,Chronic Constipation
Carpel Tunel Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder,
Depression & Anxiety

Methadone for Pain, Xanax for Anxiety, and more, of course.


Chartreux
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9622
   Posted 1/31/2009 9:59 AM (GMT -7)   
Wow, I guess we could be twins then Pamela, yep I've have had scoliosis
for a long time now..but it's mild to moderate or so they says...
don't you dare get asthma! would never wish that on anyone having
been through it.
Most of my stuff was brought on by a succession of car accident's with the
last one being the most cumulative and not being dx'd correctly after they happened.
But the asthma I've had all my life along with the enlarged pituitary gland,
anyways enough about lil ol me...
Lots of soft hugz to everyone and Sue keep us posted as to how your doing!
Oh and Sue sometimes PT people are paid to sell equipment and well just say
you can't afford anyore equipment and if they can't continue to help you, then find a different
place for pt, there are plenty of good pt people out there it's just finding the one
that'll work best for you! Traction is not the only thing that could help ya..
well wishes to you...
**********************************************
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc, Fibromyalgia, Gerd, Enlarged Pituitary Gland
******** "We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world" from Helen Keller *********

********>^..^<********>^..^<********>^..^<********

Post Edited (Chartreux) : 1/31/2009 10:04:10 AM (GMT-7)


REDSAM
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 95
   Posted 2/1/2009 3:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you all for the great advice.  The PT doctor will refer me to a company who will custom make the traction device for me.  I have already spoke with them last year, but I did not have money to spend.  It will cost me $500.00 because I have to meet my deductible for 2009.  I know that these will not go away, and I must learn to live with the bad disks for as long as I can.  I am 42, soon to be 43, and I just don't want to think about surgery right now.  I did not like the traction unit the last time they tried doing that to me in the office, in the beginning, when I was at my worst.  I would feel good for a day, and then my pain would be worse and stay that way. 
 
I am just very depressed.  It has bee a few days since my post, and my symptoms are coming back.  So I have been resting, and icing all weekend.  Taking my relaxers and anti-inflamatories as I am so tight again.  I am about to enter my work week from @$LL, and I know it will worsen things, plus now this week, I will not have the time to go back to him.  My next appointment isn't until the 11th.  I've heard his speak to others, and he is always pushing the cervical patients to get this device.  Grrrr..  When I first told him I did not want to do it, he used that "against medical advice" crap, and all I think that was, was to guilt me into it.
 
This is my second therapy group.  The first one's were straight chiro's, and all he wanted to do was adjustments, and have me pay $5000.00 out of pocket for a therapy he offered, that is not covered by insurance.  A decompression table...
 
I have spoken to others in the same or similar type of situation, and they all say the same thing.  Pt worked (for awhile), shots worked (for awhile), the devices (worked or didn't work, or some just platuead), drugs (for awhile, but nothing long term).
 
I don't want to spend $500.00 on a device that may stop helping, or may make things worse, and I can't continue with unlimited pt visits.  I only get so many per year.
 
Well, can't type anylonger, so I am going to sign off before my hand goes completely numb.
Sue-Hypothyroid, Abdominal Adhesion Pain, No female parts, no gallbladder. Put a fork in me please!


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 2/1/2009 10:21 PM (GMT -7)   
Dear Redsam,
All I can add is that I wouldn't buy a device - especially one that cost that much! - unless I already knew it was going to help me manage my condition. Maybe you can say to your PT that once (if) you find that the traction in his office helps (doesn't have to cure, just helps) you'll consider purchasing the home unit. Also - I'd ask about a guarantee or return policy on such a unit, but I suspect since it's being custom made you won't be able to return it. BTW from what I know decompression and traction are very similar.

PaLady

REDSAM
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 95
   Posted 2/2/2009 7:11 AM (GMT -7)   

Thank you PAlady!  You have some excellent advice.  I don't think I am going to spend the money on it.  I distinctly remember the first of several times on it in the office.  I would be hurting the next day, and then on from that.

The decompression table a computer driven device DX9000??  It is not covered by insurance, so the tab ususally runs $5,000.00 for the entire treatment. 

Thank you!  Wishes for a pain free day.    Sue


Sue-Hypothyroid, Abdominal Adhesion Pain, No female parts, no gallbladder. Put a fork in me please!


hep93
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12014
   Posted 2/2/2009 1:26 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi, Sue!  I just had to add my 2 cents, since I have dealt with neck problems and pain for over 40 yrs.  The problem was originally caused by a whiplash injury and has progressively gotten worse.  You name it, I've tried it:  First, a soft cervical collar, which helped a little with support.  Then a chiropractor or two (made it worse); osteopath with a stretching machine in his office and prescribed pain pills...both only helped a little; consult with a neurologist and Sarapin injections in my head and neck, down the occipital nerve on the rt.  This had a wonderful result--no pain for 6 mos., then gradually came back.  The second injections only lasted 3 months, and the 3rd didn't work at all.  This was followed by 9 days in the hospital, being evaluated for surgery.  They decided against it and sent me home with #100 Percodans and in a hard cervical collar.  Hello!  I became addicted for over a year, though they really weren't helping the pain after the first month or two.  Cold-turkeyed off of those.  Tried antidepressants as pain therapy.  Helped, but I felt zoned out all the time.  Had PT and got over-the-door traction for home.  My insurance paid for it and I know it wasn't custom made.  Felt good at the time, but 10 min. after I was out of it, the pain came back.  I actually threw it out when I moved.  I was told never to lift more than 10 lbs. and have abided by that to this day.  I also found that repetitive motion, such as window washing or painting would leave me flat out in bed for a couple of days.  Don't do those anymore.  I had deep tissue massage, which hurt more than helped. 

I also received a TENS unit and used it on my upper back...just below the neck and shoulder blades...at work, where my job as a medical transcriptionist required me to type all day. I used it until it broke and I no longer had insurance. Was put on various muscle relaxants, which didn't really help.  One that at least let me sleep w/o a hangover the next day was Soma (w/o the codeine.)  However, when I was dx'd with hep C in '93, I was taken off of it, as it is bad for the liver long-term.  I had a consult with a top neurosurgeon, who didn't recommend surgery...couldn't guarantee that it would leave me pain free.  From there, I was referred to Pain Clinic.  Went there for over a year, getting trigger point injections in my upper back and neck.  They just gave me terrible headaches.  I did have the inter-facet injection (what I believe you meant by an epidural) and had NO pain for about 4 days.  It was wonderful!  However, they felt that wasn't a long enough period of time to warrant doing it again.  They suggested a combination of Darvocet and ibuprofen 800 mg.  They wrote a letter to my PMD suggesting this, so that took her off the hook as far as subscribing it on her own.  She had always refused to prescribe pain meds long-term.  In time, I had to switch to Lortab, while staying on the ibuprofen.  That is what I take to this day.  I also take Flexeryl, but usually not during the day because of the drowsiness.  My pain is pretty well controlled now, but when I have a flare, I use moist heat on my neck and take to bed.  Cold, especially damp cold (like it is today) is killer!  I have learned not to do anything that will exacerbate neck pain and that includes being under stress.  Of course, we all get stressed from time to time...pain itself can be stressful, which causes more pain, and it's a cycle that is hard to break.  But I try to eliminate any stressors that I can.

Now this is the thing that is different about us:  You are having pain and some numbness in your arm and hand.  My C-spine inpingement, etc., is mainly in the C-5-6 area.  It is probably C6-7 that is causing your arm pain.  My b.f. had that and, after some PT that didn't work, he had surgery.  He has never had pain or a problem since.  His ROM is just slightly less than normal.  Usually, when there is pain going down a limb, that's when surgery is indicated, and probably the only thing that will work for you long-term.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that C-spine surgeries have a much higher percentage of success in terms of eliminating pain than does lumbar surgery...which my b.f. also had.  I will caution you, though, to seek out a good neurosurgeon if you ever decide on surgery.

I really empathize with you.  There were times I just wanted to die, as I couldn't function at all from the never-ending pain.  Fortunately, mine has settled down and is managed fairly well with pain meds, though I'm never completely out of pain.  I believe part of the reason for this was going on disability (for other issues, though the neck problem was included) 3 yrs. ago.  Not working has made a big difference.

I wish you luck in whatever you do.  You might want to check into Sarapin injections.  Sarapin is made from a plant and has a numbing effect.  The stuff is expensive, but my insurance at the time covered it.  It is best to have a neurologist give the injections.  When my PMD did it (years later when I decided to try it again) I had no relief at all.  Also, I don't think you should invest $500 in the neck traction, as I don't think you will find that it offers much relief, and certainly nothing long-term.

Hugs,

Connie



hep93
Forum moderator - Hepatitis
 
"But that was yesterday, and I was a different person then."
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Post Edited (hep93) : 2/2/2009 1:31:35 PM (GMT-7)


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 2/2/2009 7:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Wow.hep, you sure have been through everything for your neck!! Got me topped! But your post made me remember something. I was getting numbness in my fingers, and pain down my arms, and my hand surgeon said he thought it was carpal tunnel. EMG showed severe carpal tunnel in right hand, and moderate in left. But I was convinced that the numbness was being caused by all my neck problems. After the pain got unbearable, I finally succommbed to carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand - and the numbness and pain in my hand went away immediately. ten years later I had the CTS on my left hand. Again, great results. It's true if I sleep the wrong way I get some numbness and tingling in my fingers, but it goes away once I'm up and do a little stretching. I can't recall if you've had carpal tunnel checked out, but an EMG would tell for sure what nerves are blocked.

I don't regret the carpal tunnel surgery - just that I waited so long. But I had hoped my lumbar fusion would have the same results, but no such luck!

PaLady

forex
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2010
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 1/22/2014 6:17 PM (GMT -7)   
I had a stiff neck for a year from being on the computer 10 hours a day. I had computer glasses made because I was using bi focal glasses.
I looked up traction on the computer and started using it. the improvement was dramatic. But I made my own. You take a towel and fold it to about 6 inches. Take a robe and tie it around the two ends so now you have a loop. The rope should be long enough to tie over a door knob and should go about inches from the floor. You put your neck in this loop twice a day. Start with 3 minutes and work your way up to 5 minutes twice a day. You can Google home made neck traction and find it if you can't understand what I have wrote here. Make sure you close and lock the door before you do this.

Chartreux
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9622
   Posted 1/23/2014 10:00 AM (GMT -7)   
forex, Hello, nice to meet you. It's good that you read through some older postings. However, Redsam and PALady and Pam are not here anymore, so I do not know if they'll respond to you. I would hope you write a post and introduce yourself and it's good that you made a self traction device, just make sure it'll hold up for you, so glad you get some relief from that and when your able please post about yourself so we can welcome you as this is a wonderful forum for helpful advice and caring people, post even if you need to vent. However, older posts are good for reading, as some of those people from 2009 are no longer posting... Hope this helps and many welcomes to you, nice to meet you wish we were meeting under better circumstances than chronic pain!
**********************************************
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...
********>^..^<********>^..^<*******
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