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  • Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

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    Old 06-03-2004, 04:09 PM   #1
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    neckache35 HB User
    Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    I was just wondering for those of us who have tried PT, what is the average length of time. In other words, how long should I try it before I consider other treatment such as surgery. My doc ordered it for 3 weeks.

    Also, has anyone here tried cervical traction? I am thinking about getting a Saunders Cervical Home Traction Unit. I tried it today at PT and it felt really good.


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    Old 06-03-2004, 08:04 PM   #2
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    MzDee HB User
    Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    Hi Debbie..

    I don't know where you are with your disc problem but I recently had a ACDF surgery for mine. Beforehand, I was in tremendous pain for 7 years and the last 3 years were excruciating pain everyday. My regular doctor wanted me to try everything before doing surgery. PT for 3 weeks is about average. That is what was requested to me. It felt good at the time while it was being done and I was also talked into purchasing a home traction machine by the PT. That too felt good when I used it but the pain continued and worsened. So in other words, for me, traction really didn't do much.. however everyone is different and it all depends of the severity of your disc problem.

    Old 06-04-2004, 12:53 PM   #3
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    REric HB User
    Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    I just returned from the hospital for EMG testing. My results were abnormal but nothing the would indicate the need for surgery. My neurologists is a firm believer that surgery is your absolute LAST RESORT. In my case, I have stenosis on all C-levels and had numbness and pain shooting down my arm. The symptoms have gradually decreased in severity and frequency as a result of physical therapy. Quite simply, I have made a firm commitment not to go under the knife. My solution, which is working very well so far:
    1. Concentrate on using correct posture at all times.
    2. Daily cardio exercise (I use a Lifecycle)
    3. Inversion table therapy (works great and fun too)
    4. Modified my diet to drop even more weight (I'm not overweight but the less weight you carry, the better)
    5. Daily massages around the neck, shoulders and mid-to-lower back.
    6. Ice packs and heating pads work wonders.
    7. Rearranged my computer work station for optimum posture and locked my chair so it won't lean back.
    8. Learn to relax and lessen your stress. Get up and walk away from your work periodically so you don't tense-up.
    9. Use NSAID when necessary, don't fight with pain, defeat it with proper medication and you will heal. Also use Flexeril as needed.
    10. Get a good quality ortho-neck pillow.
    Don't give up, keep trying to improve your spinal health. Remember, there's no sure "quick-fix" for spinal problems and surgery doesn't always make things better.

    Good luck!

    Old 06-04-2004, 02:38 PM   #4
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    more HB User
    Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    Physical therapy helped me for a period of 2 years. Then it just stopped working. I used the Saunders Cervical Traction system (the one with the bag you filled with water) for six months before my surgery and it helped me get through the days. I used it 2-3 times a day laying on the floor with the bag full pulling back on the head. It did wonders for me and put off the surgery for a while.

    Also, after having my surgery I hit my head pretty hard on the ceiling and I went for more physical therapy and the therapist did manual traction (using her hands).. This also worked.

    As far as the therapy give it a try but don't let them force you to continue if it is not going to help and be sure to find a therapist that knows the neck area.

    As someone else said, some insurance companies will not approve the surgery unless you try physical therapy. Mine would not even though the doctor told them it was not going to work and may do more damage. They still wanted 6 weeks of recent PT.

    Old 06-04-2004, 03:50 PM   #5
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    neckache35 HB User
    Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    I think you are right about the insurance company wanting you to try PT first. Unless there is a severe emergency, they want to exhaust all other methods. My doc wrote for 3 weeks of PT and then epidural injections. Hopefully they won't extend my PT any longer than that. I'm dealing with auto and personal medical insurance, so it gets a little tricky.


    Old 06-05-2004, 06:08 PM   #6
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    Murphy HB User
    Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    I got worse after PT. I think he was just not good @ his job. I quit after 3rd try &
    bad nights of inflammation. They really don't feel what we feel. I tried Saunders. Type
    that you lay down. Later, a net search took me to buying a hm. unit `Pronex'. There
    is a discount online purchase Co. that quoted a great price. Pronex is a easy head-
    neck in & then squeeze a bulb to pump air in while laying flat & relaxed. You control
    the stretch. Do not over do it. Feels gd. at the time but you'll learn the hard way!
    They also sell Saunders. CheapRelief offers gd. prices. Might want to check out. Hm.
    traction allows more compliance. Felt better in 2 wks. @ 2X day for 15min.

    Old 06-06-2004, 04:02 PM   #7
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    neckache35 HB User
    Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    To Murphy,
    Thanks for the info about the Pronex. I had actually viewed their web site and I was considering purchasing one. They have another traction unit called the Saunders Home Cervical Traction Unit. Are you familiar with that one? My physical therapist actually used the Saunders unit on me and it felt really good. I did notice that later that day the numbness in my right thumb seemed to be a little bit less.

    I would really to give home traction a good try before considering surgery. I am also going to try an epidural steroid injection. But traction seems to make more sense because it actually trys to correct the problem rather than just masking the symptoms.

    Of course, if my hand weakness keeps getting worse and my numbness/tingling keeps increasing surgery will probably be inevitable anyway.


    Old 06-07-2004, 01:33 PM   #8
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    Murphy HB User
    Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    Neckache: The PT used a Saunders `model?' Like I said, I got worse but did better @
    hm. @ own pace. You need to get copies of cervical-spine report to see what U have.
    U could make things worse if U pull spine too long in unit & could inflame nerves. C5-
    C6 effects hand feeling. I have some spurs & multible cyst-bulging threw out. Daily
    neck bending created a sm. spur/bulge @ C3-4. A high bed pillow was also causing me
    a painful a.m. neck/shoulder inflammation. Memory-Foam pillow helps. Traction pulls
    disks apart & broke pain cycle. If I read too long the neck & dwn to C5 curves & spine
    starts to burn, thumb + few fingers numb, even head pressure ocurrs. I considered
    epidural till I researched feedback here & other sites. Same w/ surgery feedback. It
    seems scarring is unpredictable & causes nerves to get pinched worse sometimes. I'd
    be in a wheelchair 1st! U can't return traction-equip so talk to PT. I have severe pain
    some days in mid-back & use Lortab. I use Flexeril 10mg some nights if spasms or over
    wk'd. I get rash if use too often. Control inflammation, correct posture, get copies, &
    use a soft collar for 30 min. after traction. PT never tell U that! A lay-on back
    massager also helps alot. Heat makes cysts/tissue inflame, so find out what U have.

    Old 06-08-2004, 07:34 PM   #9
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    hatcher HB User
    Thumbs up Re: Questions about Physical Therapy and Cervical Traction?

    This is my first post. My MRI shows multifactorial disease from C3-4 through C6-7 with moderate to marked central canal stenosis as well as severe bilateral recess stenosis at multiple levels. Sounds real bad to me but my primary care doctor has not suggested yet a surgeon so maybe it's not as bad as I think. I went through PT for 4 weeks utilizing traction. I received what I consider to be good results from traction. They have given me a home unit that I use every night for 10 minutes. I can go to every other night if my symptoms are not bad. Currently I have slight numbness in the tip of my middle finger and I get twinges of nerve pain. But nothing like I had when this first started 3 months ago. I woke up one day feeling stiff and deteriorated rapidly in 2 days to SEVERE pain in my left shoulder blade, like a burning cauldron of tar. Could not sleep for more than 2 hours a day. Completely miserable. I am also on 300 mg of Neurontin twice a day. That controls the nerve pain pretty much, like I say, just twinges that only last 30 seconds or so but several times a day. But at the moment I feel under control. I'm just hoping that this is not the lull before the storm. I definitely do not want surgery because I am a big weenie! I will do my traction the rest of my life if I have to. Also I have cervical ribs that I've had to do PT exercises for the last 20 years to keep numbness from occurring. Does any one else here have that problem (thoracic outlet syndrome)? Sorry for the length of this. Moral of the story: I do recommend traction.

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