At this point, I’ve got three treatments left in battery of 24. I’ll be done next Wednesday. Things have been really up and down the last week and a half. I suspect it shows in the quantity and quality of my posts too.
Most of the time, I feel great. The decompression treatments have overall lived up to the hype. The problem that I’m having however is that my neck seems more inclined to pop out of joint than it used to be. No doubt that’s from all the subcutaneous scar tissue now being broken up. Everything is more loose. I have greater flexibility, but everything is also a little more prone to slipping slightly out of alignment. It’s caused some pretty severe headaches at points also.
Granted, the situation is also more prone to correcting itself than it used to be, but it still can be a slow process.
Long explanation made short; higher peaks of well being, but more frequent lows also.
At this point, we’ve found a pain management specialist in our HMO. One that also sometimes does spinal decompression, or at least writes referrals… I don’t know. I’m going to try to get an appointment to see that doctor for an evaluation and recommendations on how to proceed from here.
I’ve hit a plateau (using the term generously) with the current treatment process, so paying for further treatment sessions would seem foolish without that consult first.
Granted, I also need to get back on track with the home end of the treatment process. I’ve admittedly slacked off a little there. I need to eliminate that as a potential part of the problem so as to better determine a course of treatment moving forward.
When I know more, I’ll post another update.
I’d still highly recommend looking into spinal decompression for those who are having back problems. Mine is a fairly unusual and severe case after all. And it’s still helped.
Time for a treatment update. Monday / Yesterday was treatment number 7. I’m now 25% through my battery of 24 treatments.
Overall, I’m progressing nicely. My neck is feeling better, I have more energy, my mood has improved, and my body is actually wanting healthier food too.
On a related note, the machine that I linked the YouTube video to in my earlier post:
IS indeed the exact model of table I’m being treated with.
My only real complaint at this point is the doctor and his business practices.
My Annoying Chiropractor:
My first annoyance is that he’s still all but completely absent from my treatments. It’s his office assistants setting up and running the machine. Only one quick “how are you doing today?” from the ‘doctor’ in the last few treatments.
Second was that I was supposed to get some physical therapy exercises to do at home to help my progress. That was put off multiple times until I called the staff out regarding it, in front of multiple other clients. What do they give me? Four basic exercises pushing my head against my hand in order to build neck strength. 🙄😒
IF he had listened to me or even examined me closely, a weak neck is NOT an issue with me. My pinched nerves had my neck and traps clinched up tight as a rock literally for years. The first chiropractor I went to in Sacramento had a massage therapist on staff, and the therapist couldn’t even work my shoulders at all they were so tight. I’m not a mutant weight lifter, nor do I look like one, but trust me, I have a damned strong neck for a 51 year old.
Luckily, I still know some flexibility stretches from my martial arts training and my last chiropractor.
Third, I was supposed to be getting some sort of home traction unit, again to supplement my treatment while at home. I got a big song and dance about how it was soooo much better than the Pronex unit I told them hurt me before:
Well, I got billed $169 dollars for THIS:
Ok, so the theory is sound with the thing. Push your neck out (up) back into a proper S curve, correcting posture issues and spreading the vertebrae, allowing the discs to return to normal.
TWO problems though. The first anyone with a basic understanding of anatomy will spot: It’s putting the pressure on too narrow an area of the cervical spine. The pressure needs to be more evenly distributed to get the result they’re claiming. The manufacturer knows this too, because they came out with a newer model with two inflatable areas that distribute pressure along the entire neck. I got an older model that could potentially cause more harm than it fixes.
The second problem is the price. $169. I found it on Amazon for as low as $57.99, although many suppliers were over $100 (barely). I’m still not sure if I’m a much better shopper than he is, or he’s just marking junk up almost 300%
My last issue ties back to number one above: You try to ask this guy a question and despite having a love me wall to put most chiropractors to shame, he either can’t or won’t answer questions.
Most recently I caught him behind the front desk and asked about the treatment plan’s restrictions on carbonated soft drinks… Was there a reason that other sugary stuff like lemonade and sweet tea were not listed? He avoided a direct answer and gave me some line about just recommending what’s best and that an occasional soft drink wouldn’t kill me, it just wasn’t optimal for healing.
Here’s the proper answer:
ALL sugary drinks are highly acidic. Sugar itself is an acid. Drinking them causes inflammation, and keeps existing inflammation from healing. The acid level is also bad for your spine, and skeleton in general, because your body will leech calcium and magnesium from your bones to correct the PH level in your body.
Already knowing that answer, I asked him the question to see if he knew anything further about carbonation potentially causing other issues, etc… Instead I got BS’ed because he didn’t know the answer, or thought I was too dumb to appreciate it. 😡
The Actual Treatment Thus Far:
Progress continues to be good here. My pain level is higher after treatment, but after I’ve put cold packs on my neck and rested a little, my pain is now down to a consistent 2 or 3. The treatments are now up to 30 minutes long also. Yesterday, I timed the machine to see it’s pattern. It started at 15 seconds of tension and 15 seconds of relaxing the pull, and slowly worked up to about 30 seconds of tension followed by 20 to 25 seconds of release.
Overall, I’m pretty optimistic about this working. Any remaining doubts and fears center around it working long term. Time, what I’ve learned the last week, and my extra work will combine to tell the tale there.
So What Have I Learned About My Neck and Treatment?
Primarily that my neck does still have quite a bit of internal scar tissue. 27 years of popping and grinding, and tension induced compression will do that. How do I know? The type of pain and the sensation when I feel the area.
Years ago, I used to have scar tissue on my knee. If you’ve ever had a similar patch (vs a thin line of it), you know the feeling. It’s like poking a gel ice pack in terms of resistance, and there’s a burning, pulsating pain when you bump it too hard (or it starts to tear).
The left side of my neck in particular has that feel from my ear all the way down to my shoulder. So if I want to get my life back, I have to break that scar tissue down.
I’ve also learned that Magnesium is a good deal more important a nutrient for muscle and nerve health than I previously gave it credit for. It’s part of my supplement routine from the chiropractor. Once a day, and it really helps with muscle tension.
The Battle Plan:
The scar tissue realization and the timing of the machine were important insights. They helped me realize that the reason the Pronex was causing pain is that I was using it the wrong way; too long with tension, not frequent nor long enough enough relaxation between tensions. I was tearing up the scar tissue too quickly, and maybe pulling some actual muscles with scar tissue adhesions also. I need a slower, less rigorous use of the device to get proper results.
That’s my theory anyway, and I’m going to be testing it out later. If I follow the machine’s pattern and still get excessive pain, then I’ll just discard the thing. If it works, I’ll keep it up.
I’ll also make use of my inversion table, particularly in an effort to work on my lower back issues. I’ve gotten hold of a few yoga programs specifically for neck and back issue treatment, and will be making use of those as well. Those along with stretching, taking the supplements I got and lots of water. I’ll probably throw in some meditation and Tai Chi as well.
All in all, I believe this is going to work, but it will take doing ALL 24 treatments, (maybe a few more), and doing all the homework and more thanks to having an apathetic chiropractor.
My latest update here, and yes, I’m sticking with the pictorial theme because it amuses me, lol. My most recent treatment was Friday. That was treatment #3.
That treatment went better. Maybe I should have been down just a little more on the table, or maybe my neck has just loosened up that much, but I didn’t feel the stretch as much. I was hurting most of Friday however. My neck kept popping as well, which makes me again question if a chiropractic adjustment before the decompression wouldn’t be better, so as to make sure everything is in as good a position as possible before treatment.
As a side note, I’ve kept up with my water, supplements and cold packs as well. We paid too much for this process for me NOT to take it seriously.
Yesterday, however, I woke up feeling better than I have in a LONG time. My tinnitus was diminished significantly, i had a ton of energy, and I was more pain free than I’ve been in years. Even acupuncture hadn’t had this level of effect.
Did I feel perfect? Hardly. Even the level of relief I got felt miraculous though. It was enough improvement that I could see why the doctors worry about people stopping early. That happens with all kinds of treatments; everything from antibiotics to physical therapy. The result is almost always that relief is short term as well.
As if to prove my point, today I woke up a bit more sore and stiff than I was on Saturday. I’m actually looking forward to treatment tomorrow. For once, I’m seeing real hope of reversing all of this. 🙂
The pain in my neck had diminished a great deal on Saturday. Surprisingly fast if it was caused by scar tissue breaking up. I had cold packs on non-stop Friday however. Between that and my body’s ability to block out pain, that may account for it.
Again, so far so good. It’s early yet, so I’m still hesitant to recommend this as an option for folks. Especially if they end up with a cash focused doctor like me. It’s looking very promising however.
For those who read my recent “Decompressing” post, we opted to go ahead and do the spinal decompression treatments.
Yes, it went something like that, LOL.
That’s the purpose of the post today; to let those who were curious actually know what’s involved. I’ll post updates as I progress through treatment and let readers know if this actually IS effective, or just another scam.
Let’s backtrack a bit though, so as to give readers the full picture.
How We Decided I Should Do It:
We put a great deal of debate and research into the decision. I have to say that we went with it in spite of the doctor also, not because of him. Quite honestly, he comes across as knowing his stuff, but completely devoid of any empathy. Kind of like Dr Strange before his car crash and trip to Nepal.
I only mention it because deciding if you feel comfortable with the doctor IS something you have to weigh when considering any sort of treatment.
At any rate, I’ve tried just about every other non-surgical option. Conventional chiropractic treatment helps, but is only holding the line at this point. Acupuncture was doing great things for the pain, but apparently not much for actual healing. The way things were progressing, it was either this or wait for surgery at some point in the future. Surgery, even laser surgery, has some ugly long term issues that I do not want to deal with.
So, I spent half a day trying to wade through the cesspool of misinformation that is the internet. Everyone out there has their own opinion on treatment, and all others are scam artists. Here’s what I was able to piece together though:
If you cut out all the crap with big pharma supported doctors and sites saying it’s voodoo, and people doing the treatments saying they’re a miracle cure… You’ll find out that the treatments seem to work for 80 to 90 percent of patients. What I could not find is how the treatments hold up long term.
I imagine long term viability would be a difficult study anyway, given that you’d have to see who was taking care of their back afterwards and who was abusing it.
Long story made short; most of the unbiased sites said the odds were good it would help, and it’s far, far cheaper than surgery.
The Actual Process:
Keeping it simple, the idea is to physically stretch the spine, allowing herniated discs to return to their normal shape, and pinched nerves to heal. So, while that picture of the rack at the start of the post was a joke, it’s not TOO far fetched.
The technology today is computer controlled and loaded with resistance sensors also. When the table detects added resistance from your muscles tensing, it backs off briefly and then begins again. As far as what the tables look like now, I found one video on YouTube. It’s an ad, but it’s good in terms of explaining how the table works and showing what it looks like. If you want to see the neck area part of the video, jump to 6:30. They start with lumbar (lower back) first.
This actually looks very similar to the table I’m getting treated on, and I think may be the model before the one I’m getting treated on.
Treatment plans can go anywhere from 20 to 30 sessions. They start out at 20 minutes, and after the first few times, increase to 30 minutes.
It’s pain free also, during the session. My neck was sore afterwards today though. It was the kind of pain like when scar tissue tears and starts to break up. For those who have never experienced that joy, it’s a cross between the feeling of overdoing it at the gym, and pulling muscle. It was muscular though. The constant stabbing pain of the pinched nerves in my neck has diminished substantially. So, overall, it’s a promising start.
Yes, there’s homework. Most of it is simple stuff though. Drink LOTS of water to rehydrate treated areas. Keep ice packs on it to reduce swelling and inflammation also. Five times a day minimum. I was also given some nutritional supplements to help promote healing and nourish the area. I’m also supposed to be getting a set of exercises (most likely basic stretches) to help rehab my neck and some sort of home traction gizmo as well. Hope THAT works better than the Pronex did… Why I haven’t gotten the exercises yet is beyond me also. If I don’t get them soon, I found a yoga program specifically for neck rehab that I’ll be using anyway.
I’m also supposed to stay away from sugary drinks and caffeine. Given that the average can of Coke has more than enough sugar to cause inflammation, I’m reluctantly cooperating there, LOL. I’m taking this seriously because it is expensive and may be my last best shot at getting healthy again.
No I didn’t forget. I was keeping you reading. 😀
Everything all total, for 24 treatment sessions for the neck and a half dozen adjustments for my lower back, came out to a grand total of $3800 (roughly). Yes, we pressured the doctor down some there also. Crazy expensive, but surgery can run upwards of $150,000.
My Opinion Thus Far:
Overall, so far so good. My only real issue thus far is that the doctor won’t listen to a damned thing he’s told. My back and neck were pretty badly out of adjustment when I started treatment. I think that accounts for some of my soreness also.
After 17 years of martial arts, I’ve amazed every past chiropractor by being able to tell them exactly what’s out, where and by how much. I know my own body.
If nothing else, you’d THINK that part of the procedure would be to do an adjustment before hand so that everything moves more freely. That in turn would logically give the machine better results.
So there you have it; the full scoop thus far… from the rack to the Rock. I’ll just have to hope for the best, work through the rehab and raise hell if the doc doesn’t start listening.