My Tool Box – Both portable and at home.

I talk about the tools necessary for my condition and for any other c-spine condition a lot but I don’t explain them all with happy little paintings and full descriptions, I just mention them in passing.

This post will outline the tools I use, how I use them, how they help and where you can get them (and how much they cost)

First, let’s talk traction.

I put myself into traction every night before sleep.  It’s the only time I suggest it because right afterwards you are resting your neck for an extended period of time.  I use what’s called a “posture pump” which has the ability to put you into axial traction due to the mechanics of such a device.  Basically, it’s an air bladder that expands under your c-spine while you are strapped into the device.  It gives you the best traction both spreading your vertebrae apart to allow the synovial fluid to re-innervate the areas and giving you much needed traction which helps to restore lordosis – the natural curve of the neck.

Posture Pump

That is the link to Amazon’s product listing ofi the posture pump.  It is around $65 USD and is beyond worth it.  This is what it basically looks like:

Your head drops into the large opening while your neck is put onto the black portion which is the air bladder that expands as you push on the bladder air filler mechanism.


Next.  Let’s talk about shiatsu massage.  I keep a shiatsu massager in the bed right next to the posture pump.  I like to use them right after each other as the massager tends to relax the area that was just in traction.  The unit I have has a massager on both sides and your spine just fits right in the middle of them.  As you move your neck around you can massage different muscle groups.

Not much to explain, it works.

 

Now let’s talk about TENS.

TENS has always been my best friend and will continue to be.  Sometimes instead of shiatsu I will do TENS after traction since my TENS unit has an 80 minute shut off built in.  TENS does SO MUCH goodness that it’s hard to NOT have one with our conditions.  For Cervicogenic Headaches in general it’s a good idea to have a TENS unit with optimal pad placement being at the base of the neck on either side of the spine and on top of the shoulders again on either side of the spine.  4 Pads if your TENS unit supports it.  My unit happens to handle 8 pads at once which is a bit much but it’s nice to have if you need it.

My TENS unit cost 27 dollars on Amazon and was the Amazon choice for that particular product.  It takes 3 AAA batteries which is nice to have replaceable batteries over rechargeable batteries because the batteries in a rechargeable unit will just die over time.

This particular unit has modes for all muscle groups in the body besides just modes for cupping, acupuncture, tapping, etc.  Great device.  For Cervicogenic Headaches, I suggest 4 pads at the same time all in Acupuncture mode.  This constant stabbing feeling gets rid of all the knots your neck and shoulder are holding onto.  Or just hit the random button and it will cycle through all modes.  You can also hit the Neck and Shoulder buttons and let them do their job.  I suggest buying a ton of pads and getting a 7.99 adhesive gel that they sell as “commonly bought with this device” suggestions at the bottom of the page.

 

Those 3 devices can do so much in and of themselves that anyone with a c-spine problem should have all 3.  A soft collar is also a good thing to have to keep your neck relaxed if it’s upset and you just want to take the strain off.  I don’t suggest hard collars for regular c-spine problems but for me it happens to be necessary at times.

I hope this help to outline the tools in my toolbox that I use all the time which help keep the Cervicogenic Headaches like Occipital Neuralgia at bay.

For James and others…

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Medications and Occipital Neuralgia/Cervicogenic Headaches

The rough part of pain management is just that – managing the pain.  With problems like Occipital Neuralgia or Cervicogenic Headaches in general is finding the right medication which will work on your specific cause of each such problem.

Let’s start with general Cervicogenic Headaches.  When you have CHs that are not caused by anything in particular, it’s hard to find medication that will work all the time.  As the problems come and go, and move around the neck and head, one medication might work one day while it doesn’t work the next.  Generally for CHs anti-inflammatory medication is best such as Zanaflex, Aleve, Advil, NSAIDs in general and others that fall into that category.  Obviously when you take a step further, pain medications will also help, medications such as Tylenol, Excedrine and of course narcotic pain relievers.

These don’t always work and when they don’t, pain management intervention with regards to procedures such as medial branch blocks, facet blocks, epidurals and radio frequency ablations will offer long term relief as long as the source of the pain is isolated.

In terms of Occipital Neuralgia (ON), this is nerve based.  This requires similar medications for some, but all around different medications for others depending where on the occipital nerve or insulting muscles are related.  The first medication that a pain specialist will prescribe is a nerve medication known as Gabapentin (Neurontin).  Gabapentin happens to be an exceptional pain medication for pain in the right dose.  Usually one starts out at the lowest dose two times a day, 1 am and 1 pm.  When this helps just a little it’s then increased to 2 pills 2x daily; 2 am and 2 pm. Other medications such as Pregbalin (Lyrica) might be prescribed if Gabapentin doesn’t do the trick.  As you can not do an epidural or other similar procedures up on the Occipital nerve, nerve procedures are then chosen such as ablations or my favorite monthly procedure – Occipital Nerve Blocks (ONB).  The ONB is simply an injection of lidocaine and corticosteroids into the Occipital nerve branch which dulls out the nerves giving you major relief from Occipital Neuralgia.  The relief is almost immediate but the next day you do suffer from injection site pain which then resolves itself the next day where you are then reaping the results of an ONB.  Again, I get this monthly and since starting it I haven’t had a Cervicogenic Headache caused by Occipital Neuralgia.

When the nerves are upset due to misalignment of the upper vertebrae such as C0/C1 and C1/C2. a chiropractor is mandatory to realign those bones to take the stresses off of said nerves and relax not only the nerves but the muscles as well.

Feel free to mention what I have written to your doctor if you feel that your headaches are not migraine or cluster but could very well be Cervicogenic.  Usually it ends up being an “ah ha” moment for them.

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Onyx Passed Out From Meowing

So Onyx was meowing like crazy yesterday and seemed to wear herself out.  I took this photo and then brought it into Photoshop CC 2018 and edited it in the Nik Collection with Analog Effects and HDR Tone Mapping (single image).  The result?

Another photograph that is becoming a favorite.  This cat is so photogenic with her varying colors in different lighting.

 

 

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