Tag Archives: Spinal Traction

Spinal Decompression Treatment; 6 Months Later

I got asked a very legitimate question a little while ago regarding if I thought my spinal decompression treatment was worth it. Given that I’m still having issues with my back, *I* consider it a reasonable question anyway. 🙂

The very short answer is YES.

The detailed answer, with all the wheres and whys takes a little explaining however.

First, let me start with the obvious caveat that lawyers have none the less made mandatory anymore; your medical professional is the best person to advise you if ANY form of treatment is suitable for you Specifically.

Likewise everything I’m going to write here comes from a layperson. A moderately well read layperson who has put the advice given to personal use and seen benefits, but I am NOT a licensed health care professional in any form. Everybody’s physiology and biochemistry is a bit different too, so results may vary.

A Little Background:

Yes, I am still having troubles, but they’re largely focused on my lower back at this point. The area that I had decompression on was my neck or cervical spine area.

My neck was worse off, which is why the doctor decided to try it first. The degeneration there caused all manner of problems. I had sleep issues, severe headaches that were a mix of extreme tension headaches and migraines, brain fog and trouble focusing, and probably a dozen other issues, including a Parkinson’s-like tremor in my left arm. All that from pinched nerves in my neck caused by the spinal degeneration. My neck was at stage 3 spinal degeneration per the diagram below.

My lower back / lumbar region, on the other hand was at phase 2.

I had the headaches since the mid 1990s also. Since there was no real neck pain to accompany them and the other symptoms, I had NO idea for years that it was actually a spinal issue. Flair ups were bad enough and I was scared enough of addiction to opioid pain killers that I was taking 8 extra strength Advil pills at a time. If I didn’t have a constitution like Charlie Sheen’s, I probably would not have a stomach or liver left at this point. DO NOT do what I did there.

The real breakthrough came about 9 or 10 years ago. I was sitting at the PC, suffering through another severe headache when I heard something on the balcony of our apartment (probably just a bird or the neighbor’s cat). I turned my head to the left, and my neck popped so loud it sounded like a gunshot going off. My pain almost instantly went from an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale down to a 2, and a zero within minutes.

Over the following years, we tried multiple treatment options. Chiropractic treatment was variable. My first chiropractor actually tore a disc in my neck! The one after that was much better, but could only hold the situation at bay pain-wise. Acupuncture did wonders for the pain itself but nothing to fix the actual degeneration either.

By the time I was considering the spinal decompression, my MRI scans showed I was getting close to the point of either surgery or letting the bones fuse themselves together.

Side Note: You can see that process in the diagram above. it’s the body’s answer to protecting itself when it can’t actually heal the compressed disc(s) on it’s own. The vertebrae will literally grow out towards each other and try to fuse together.

Surgery, as I pointed out in previous posts, is expensive and has a very high fail rate over time. Decompression is $4000 vs anywhere from $100,000 and frequently more for surgery that fails regularly, and typically transfers the strain to other parts of the spine. I also saw enough benefit from the earlier alternative medicine that I had legitimate reason to believe decompression could work.

So, LONG story short, I was in nearly 25 year, long-term bad shape and out of options when I tried decompression. It still helped me.

I’ve never told that whole story in 3+ years of time here because I try to avoid personal drama online. It’s toxic and it focuses on the problem instead of moving forward. In this case though, it’s important to understand how bad off I was before treatment.

The Right Doctor Makes All the Difference:

The reason the lower back pain is still there and there are a few minor ongoing neck issues is that I chose the wrong doctor. He was very hands-off, letting his office staff run the computerized automatic decompression table, didn’t communicate well, etc…

We also got off on the wrong foot when we did my initial test treatment to see how I’d respond. The treatment did OK for my neck but he refused to look at my lower back that day, and sent me home in so much lower back pain that I could barely get in and out of the Mustang. I verbally lit him up when I showed up for the next treatment and told him if he did that again, I’d cancel treatments, get a refund for the balance and trash him on every review site I could find.

I didn’t have a treatment problem after that, but needless to say, we were politely cold to each other from then on. My original neck treatment pack was 24 treatments with a review of progress at that point and possible continuation for the full normal package of 36 (12 extra treatments).

He also just gave me the vibe of somebody more interested in dollars than patient well-being, but that is only a personal opinion.

So second long story short, assuming you have options in choice, is to find a doctor you feel comfortable with, will answer questions, and gives the vibe of caring as opposed to wishing you’d hurry up so they can be off to something else. In the case of the greater Nashville area, I had at least 4 other clinics I could have looked into beyond the local one.

My actual progress, combined with my dislike of the doctor meant I never even went back in for the re-evaluation or possible lower back treatment.

The Process Will NOT Be Fun, At First

I wrote about this in my earlier posts. I had quite a bit of subdermal scar tissue along my spine at the neck. Normally this kind of scar tissue only forms as a result of surgery and other “invasive” incidents or procedures. It DOES happen otherwise though, and the longer term your injury is, the more likely the scar tissue is there, or at least fibrous tissue that VERY closely resembles surface scar tissue. In the case of spine problems, the tissue will or may form to try to protect and reinforce the area around a damaged or compressed disc.

Even if you don’t have any subdermal ‘scar’ tissue, keep in mind that you’re still stretching muscles, tissue, etc… that have been constricted and tight for a while. Discs will try to expand to their natural shape also, and nerves will shift. It’s all going to hurt.

With all the scar tissue that broke loose in my neck, I was miserable for the first week. I lived with a cold pack on my neck. I could feel the difference in the type of pain though, and a reduction in the secondary issues I was dealing with. No brain fog, muscle ache pain vs severe migraine pain, etc… The cold packs really did help also and are important for fighting inflammation caused by the treatment.

About half way through the treatments, the pain was minimal, and I was “Hell yeah! let’s keep the ball rolling!”. By treatment 24, my neck felt like it did when I was 20.

Post-Treatment Makes ALL the Difference:

If you want to make sure you get your money’s worth out of treatment, doing the right things afterwards makes ALL the difference. Lead a dumb lifestyle and stress your back, and I’ll guarantee you’ll reverse everything you gained in a matter of mere months. Our forced move away from Nashville (mainly doing it ourselves), and a few other events put a definite strain on my lower back and neck so I’ve felt it first hand.

I’ve also stuck with the therapy and other habits that are undoing that strain and continuing my healing progress.

Here’s the work you’re going to expect to have to do:

Dietary Changes: Simple and sometimes obvious. If you’re overweight, that puts an extra burden on your spine. Sugar causes inflamation. Highly acidic food leach calcium from your bones. Changes do NOT have to be instantaneous. It’s awesome if you can quit cold turkey. If not, work on slowly reducing unhealthy foods while you search for healthy alternatives and ways to cook them where you enjoy eating them. If you’re a sugary drink junkie, like me, slowly reduce them and substitute with water. I do NOT recommend the vast majority of diet drinks as their artificial sweeteners often cause more issues than they fix. Stevia and Monkfruit ‘sugar’ being notable exceptions and natural.

Nutritional Supplements: specifically those designed for bone health and nervous system support. Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium in particular are important, if not outright vital. Get them naturally via food as much as you can. Use high quality supplements otherwise. That means no junk sold at the local drug or grocery store.

Personally, I take Animal Pak vitamins intended for competition bodybuilders. I’m anything but a bodybuilder. However, the vitamins and minerals are top quality and sourced from easily bio-absorbed sources. There are no nasty fillers or binding agents either. Did you know that many cheap vitamins use Plaster of Paris as a binding agent or silicon dioxide (ie sand) as a filler ? Think either of those are good for your digestive system?

Solaray is another good supplement company that I can recommend. Anywhere my main multivitamin falls short, such as the aforementioned Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, I supplement with Solaray.

At Home Physical Therapy: It will take work to finish rehab of your injured spine. Because my back and neck were in such bad shape initially, I have two home traction units I use (updated reviews on them coming soon). Overall, I think they’re a worthwhile investment if you get the right ones and use them properly and regularly.

If your spine wasn’t in as bad a shape or suffering for such an extended period of time, you can possibly get away with with a massage wand, stretching, yoga and relaxation exercises. If you’re inclined to label yoga as some new age BS for soccer moms, consider that Diamond Dallas Page’s yoga program has literally saved the life and restored the health of some former big name wrestling stars. Scott Hall being the biggest success story.

Bottom line is that you have to maintain flexibility and range of motion as part of maintaining and strengthening your back.

I should include using proper lifting techniques and such as part of the general category of “therapy”. Continue lifting with your lower back instead of your knees and you’re just asking for a return to back pain. Trying to lift more than you safely can; also trouble. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. 🙂

LASTLY; IF You Were Long-Term Sedentary Because of Your Injuries: Remember it will take time to undo all of the muscle loss and weight gain. DO NOT push yourself in some blind determination to return to your glory days overnight. At best, you’ll be so exhausted you can’t do anything. At worst, you’ll re-injure yourself.

Go slow, keep your exercises as low-impact as possible (which is why I like rowing), and progress at a rate your body is comfortable with. Save the macho, “no pain, no gain” stuff for the military, and kids who will end up with their own back issues eventually. You’ll get stronger and more active, it just takes time and a sensible approach to it.

ALL of this should be considered life long stuff also. The biggest mistake that people who injure their backs make is to only do these kind of things until they start to feel better. Inversion tables are a great example. They’re frequently bought by people in the early stages of back pain. They really work too so long as you don’t have bad knees or a couple of other medical conditions that can make them unsafe.

The new owner will use them for a few weeks, feel better, and immediately toss the thing on Craigslist though. Inevitably they end up hurting again eventually too because they didn’t change the habits that got them hurt, or continue doing what they needed to rehab and strengthen their back.

Yes, the exercises and therapy takes time. Quality nutritional supplements cost money also. Consider the alternative of an unproductive, pain filled sedentary lifestyle though.

PAST SPINAL DECOMPRESSION POSTS:

Treatment, Days 1 & 2

Spinal Decompression; Day 5

Where I’ve Been; Grappling with Changing Realities

Spinal Decompression; Day 14

Pronex Traction Unit Review / How I’ve Learned to Use One

Brief Spinal Decompression Update

One Last Spinal Decompression Update

What A Workout!

Yes, I still like my vague titles, lol. Keeps people curious.

OK, so I had hoped to be back here (and at my other blog) writing again sooner, but things have been busy. There’s alot of little chores with a house this old and a fairly sizable yard. We’re also still sorting and tossing things in an effort to trim back and simplify.

On top of that, I’ve been working HARD at one of my New Year’s resolutions… You know, that one that EVERYBODY makes:

I’m Going to Get In Shape!!!

THIS has been my torture device of choice:

It’s a water based rowing machine. LONG story short, we decided months back that when we moved we were going to get one more exercise machine to go with our stationary bike. I thought long and hard about it, and pushed for a rowing machine because it works so many muscle groups at once.

Picture from Amazon’s store page

It also works your back and shoulders. I even feel it in my forearms. Rowing around on a lake (in an inflatable boat) was how I first got in shape in my younger days, and it’s a habit I still enjoy, so this was a natural choice to me.

I still have yet to get a certain lazy spouse on it however. >_<

For those of you who have been slacking on your fitness… Let me tell yah; you don’t realize how badly you can go downhill before you truly feel it. I knew I was out of shape thanks to my back and neck keeping me sedentary for 8 or so years. I walked, I did things around the house, so I assumed I wasn’t THAT bad off.

The first time I got on the rower, I could only do fifty reps. 😶 NOT good, since the rower pretty much provides the same moderate level of resistance as real rowing.

I’ve busted my butt however, and am determined to NEVER go back to that condition I was in before decompression therapy. In roughly three weeks, I’ve gone from 50 reps to 1000 yesterday. Some of my improvement was probably just the exercise working fatigue poisons and other toxins out of my system. I know I’m feeling mentally and physically better, even if pushing hard leaves me wiped out afterwards. 😀

I’ve also lost 10 pounds and am determined to keep that up also.

The Best Diet Advice I Ever Got:

Was something so simple that most people wouldn’t believe it works; just SLOW DOWN and enjoy your food. Take your time, thoroughly chew it, actually make conversation with people while you eat, etc… The ideas being that first, it takes 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s had enough, no matter how much food you scarf down. So yes, closely related to that, it’s also better for your digestive system.

The hidden benefit to it though is that you AND your body will quickly figure out what’s truly good food. I was skeptical on this one and actually tested the idea on a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin one day. I used to love the things. Slowing down and chewing it though… truly giving myself time to sample the flavors… The sausage is REALLY disgusting, and the muffin and cheese aren’t much better.

Some of you may have had similar experiences with other foods. Little Ceasar’s pizza for example; it actually tastes good if it’s hot and you don’t truly take your time. Let it cool off even a little though… Yuck! Even if you eat it quickly.

If you want to read more about the whole concept, there’s a book called “The Slow Down Diet” that goes into more details, but I’ve given you most of the highlights here.

Just make that one simple change in your eating routine and see how much changes in your life.

The Ongoing Neck and Back War:

Speaking of the neck and back… Moving REALLY took a toll on both of them, given how rushed everything was. My worthless ProNex therapy tool broke on me also:

The damned thing tore in half at the narrow center section of the top piece, just from normal use. Talk about cheap! I mean I knew it was foam rubber, but still…

Pronex doesn’t stand by their products either, even if brand new. Needless to say, I’m changing my review to zero stars, wouldn’t recommend. After some meticulous research, I came across an alternative:

Only $50 more than the Pronex, but it’s solid construction, not low grade foam rubber.

It worked so well that we bought the lower back unit made by ComfortTrac also:

With my bad back and the auto accident my other half suffered in the Subaru, this unit has been a godsend for both of us. Chiropractic treatment never did anything long term for my back, but this is helping tremendously.

Neither unit is QUITE as good as full blown professional decompression treatment, BUT with common sense and regular use, they come VERY VERY close, for a good deal less. My previous decompression treatments ran almost $4000, and the moving undid a large portion of that. These two units had a combined cost of roughly $1000 on Amazon. That’s still ALOT of money, but we’re both benefiting from them, and it’s cheaper than professional treatment, and FAR FAR cheaper than surgery.

If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a more in-depth review on both. For now, suffice it to say they’re a large part of why I’ve been able to push myself so hard, and will help guarantee I never go back to that broken down state EVER again.

Oh yes… Remember that recurve bow I bought also?

Well, I finally got it out and started shooting also. The weather has provided limited opportunities there, but I finally got out the other day and shot a few flights. This was at about 30 feet of distance BTW. Not too impressive. My first volley was a bit of a mess also, LOL:

I hit the target with all 3 arrows though! I consider that fairly good since it was the first time I’d shot a bow since 1987 or 88. There was no nock point (a little piece of brass wrapped around the string) on the bow string, no sights, and the tab (finger guard) I was using on my drawing hand was incredibly sloppy.

Picture from Amazon’s store page of the exact one I purchased. Somebody sure chews their nails, LOL

I have to replace it with a shooting glove for sure.

BUT, I shot bare bow for the first time in 33 years and out of 50 arrows at between 30 and 35 feet, I only missed the target 3 times. By the last flight of arrows, my accuracy had improved too:

I even put one nearly dead center!

Funny… I was worried that a 40 pound draw weight on the bow might be a hair too much. It’s actually proving to be just about right for me, and is giving my arms a little extra workout also.

I’ve forgotten some of the technique I was taught back in college, but it’s amazing how I could pick up on what I was physically doing wrong with my shots; primarily being too tense, and sometimes not just simply releasing the bow string.

For those who have never shot a bow, the ideal release technique is to just simply let the fingers holding the bow string go limp. It prevents an accidental jerk of the string sideways, which will make your shot go wide. That can happen if you try to force your hand to release the string, or outright jerk your hand away.

ANYWAY… I need some practice for sure, but it wasn’t bad for a first outing. 🙂

I’ve also taken a few preliminary steps towards brushing up on my Kenpo and Wing Chun. That’s a story for another time however. 🙂

Five MAVO Points to anyone who can tell me what that last picture is though… WITHOUT an internet search. 😛

One Last Spinal Decompression Update

At least for a while.

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.

Links to Previous Posts:

Personal: Decompressing (contemplating the treatment)

Treatment, Days 1 & 2

Spinal Decompression: Day 5

Spinal Decompression: Day 14

Brief Spinal Decompression Update

Brief Spinal Decompression Update

It’s been a while since I updated here. So, let’s talk progress.

Long story short, it’s slow progress forward, and I’m continuing to improve.

The only real stumbling block at this point is sinus problems keep me tossing and turning all night, which puts my neck in bad positions and I wake up hurting. The pain when this happened used to be much worse, and last longer. I’m worried if I don’t find a fix there that it will undo all my treatment though.

At this point, I’m on treatment #14 with 10 more to go…

Spinal Decompression: Day 14

5 minute read

Time for a treatment update. Monday / Yesterday was treatment number 7. I’m now 25% through my battery of 24 treatments.

Yes, it still amuses me, LOL

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.

Spinal Decompression; Day 5

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.

This… hope… thing feels REALLY weird too. O_O

Link to Post Considering Treatment

Link to First Post

Treatment, Days 1 & 2

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.

The Homework:

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.

A classic Henny Youngman joke

The Cost:

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.