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Paul has cervical radiculopathy (from a bulging disc) - advice?  RSS feed

 
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Thursday was a Very Good Day. I was having a good day (remarkably so), and Paul felt a bit better. We had/have a cohesive care/treatment/recuperation plan that looked like we could do this:


source: the oatmeal

Or even, and perhaps better yet, this:


source: the oatmeal

Paul had gone in to PT two days in a row (Wed. and Thu.) for cervical traction. The therapist remarked that he hadn't seen someone get immediate relief as Paul did both times. For most people it was more gradual through a session and took more treatments to have much effect. Paul was able to do strengthening exercises afterward with no pain even. Sweet!

And then Friday happened. The home cervical traction unit did not arrive, as it was supposed to. We'd canceled the in town PT appointment for that day thinking we'd have a home unit. Earlier in the week, I'd tried holding Paul's head myself to do some cervical traction and I couldn't do it. (Do you know how BIG and heavy that head/brain is? ) There have been clever ideas in this thread on how to rig up homemade traction thingies (thank you!) though neither of us had the energy or brain power (and Paul's mobility still feels sorely limited) to try those out. We thought the traction unit would be here.

Last night was BAD again for Paul - level 8 pain. In the midst of the blinding he pain he asked why he seemed to be getting worse, instead of better. I was able to help him with ice, think clearly about which meds were okay to take again, and get his neck collar back on for support. His pain dropped pretty quickly from that. I told him I think it was a day without traction which caused a bit of backsliding.

On the upside of things, I mentioned that I thought it could be all of the anti-inflammatory and bone and joint support foods and supplements that we're augmenting with that helped him respond so positively to the traction.

So. There's the latest for you. Next, I'm going to check on where that darn traction unit is.

 
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I imagine Paul pushes himself at PT and might have overdone?
...Steve experienced a lot of ups and downs in recovery, sometimes he could pin point the cause and sometimes not.
'Perseverance furthers' became our mantra....... maybe the only thing I remember from the I Ching
Just experiencing some 'better' days is very hopeful.......
Good luck...wishing for lots of good days ahead for you both!

 
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Imagine you hit your funny bone really hard. You know the pain will go away in about 10 seconds. And you also know: don't hit your funny bone cuz it hurts.

But this thing that I have is that much pain, maybe more, but it doesn't go away for hours. And the cause is a relationship between my giant head and gravity and the little jelly donuts that are in my spine. So where the terrible pain is, is different from where the damage is happening.

On top of all of this, some moments are better than others. That can be a time where I can go 3 hours with a pain level of 2 and later there will be three hours of a pain level of 8.

Sitting up to drink some tea or eat something activates the gravity smashing system on the jelly donuts. But I need to stand up to do my physical therapy. And then there is peeing and pooping. The worst is going to the doctor: that means sitting in the car, walking up to the office, sitting in the office, etc.

Jocelyn is pretty wiped out. She was pretty booked before this happened. So she's been giving up sleep in order to be able to do all of her regular work plus take care of me.

As long as I am whining: my biggest complaint is that between lack of sleep, drugs and pain, my brain is very scrambled. After a bad night I was at the doctors and he asked me to do 15 of a physical therapy thing and I was struggling to keep count.

I have a few moments when it seems like my brain is working well enough to try to answer a few emails and comment in this thread. This voice recognition software is pretty cool, but kind of a pain in the ass at the same time. We are also having some technical difficulties. Jocelyn and Sharla are working to correct these.

On the first day or two of this, Jocelyn was great providing me with comfort food in an attempt to mitigate the downsides. At that time we thought it might be just a couple of days. Even though we were told it would be weeks. Now, Jocelyn is giving Google a thorough workout to come up with anti inflammatory foods that are aligned with our values. Which is kind of hard to find. I have now embraced that I will not eat pie for possibly half a year.

I've had some people that I needed to talk to that were here. Really weird that I can only talk to them while I am lying on my back.

I thought that with all of the drugs and physical therapy in the traction all of the little things that we've done that I would be better now now. Not necessarily all better, but better than before. Last night I was experiencing pain that was right up there with some of the worst - only now I have drugs and stuff. So it makes me worry that my overall condition is getting worse.

In the meantime my brain is seething with ideas for projects, articles, getting existing things finished, etc. But I find myself limited in time that I can do things and the inability to use a proper keyboard. Little on the inability to use a hammer or draw knife.

Right now the best solution seems to be traction, physical therapy and the foods that Jocelyn is feeding me.
 
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Paul, check ebay for a TENS unit.
Insurance paid for mine, but they are inexpensive; I have issues at the lower neck (they blame a slipped disk) but the other three slipped disks don't cause pain.
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator - fancy way to say it stimulates the nerve that's causing the problem and you don't feel the pain any more.
Mine came from www.rehabilicare.com, there's a battery box that clips on my belt, wires that connect to soft pads that stick to your back and deliver the stimulation.
Uses three AAA batteries.
 
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Paul,

I'm not certain that I can help you, but if I can, I would be an honor.

Dave Stone, M.D.
Roseburg, OR


 
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Chris Badgett wrote:To Paul and all those who see are suffering from pain like this from the sacrum to the neck.

I have experienced similar pain and found relief in the most unlikely places.

I would encourage you to have an open mind and check out a condition call TMS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tension_myositis_syndrome



Feel better soon!




I got a great deal of help from John Sarno's work with TMS. I think the top tiers are (as stated here)
1. get your psycho-spiritual house in order (if thats an issue)
2. hydration
3. non-inflammatory diet
4. vitamin k-2, d3, good calcium, and magnesium (I buy Magnesium chloride salts, dilute 50/50 with water and put it in a roll-on
applicator) Magnesium is super critical for so many biochemical processes, especially flexibility
5. Consider looking into DMSO if inflammation is an issue. Its an anti-inflammatory transdermal wood byproduct, amazing stuff.
6. Pain meds are bad stuff. Many people report great pain relief using Kratom, red vein strains are generally more sedative and pain
relieving, greens are more motivating with some relief, but rest and #7
7. Stretching should be more towards the top, but whatever. Grounding and listening to the body, and working mindfully.
8. TENS units do work well for some conditions, I think I got mine for $70 on ebay, you can get one that exercises muscles as well
if you're desk bound and want to work on your abs. ; )

To your health Paul!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Thanks again folks for ALL of your support! I'm branching out and looking at a few more food/supplement specifics.

See the Seeking foods that help heal nerve and spinal cord damage thread and a new one I just started today, cooking with tumeric.

I would love suggestions over in those food as medicine forum threads about your favorite healing concoctions, especially super-easy recipes (it's okay to want things, right?).

Oh, and still not cervical traction unit. I'm able to provide 2-4 minutes of traction at a time before my hands and back start to cramp up. He's pretty damn miserable still without more traction than I can do.

 
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One way to get turmeric that doesn't really fall into food--TOTHPASTE. Turmeric, coconut oil, and a touch of baking soda and peppermint oil. Ugly yellow stains on your toothbrush, but makes your teeth whiter and the mint offsets the turmeric taste. It helps me get turmeric to my whole family every day.
 
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You can eat pie Paul. Just as long as you grow your own wheat to ensure there are no pesticides on it
Now go get your IGG done so we know which foods are CAUSING YOU inflammation!
 
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Saul Good wrote:
1. get your psycho-spiritual house in order (if thats an issue)


To your health Paul!



This is like a forced experience of the permaculture principle "Apply self regulation and accept feedback"
I'm sorry it's such a painful one!

I hope that traction setup arrives tout de suite.
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
Oh, and still not cervical traction unit. I'm able to provide 2-4 minutes of traction at a time before my hands and back start to cramp up. He's pretty damn miserable still without more traction than I can do.


I previously posted how to relieve the pressure on the nerves to the carpal tunnel. If both you and Paul do this before applying traction it may help you do it longer with more relief for Paul.

It takes 90 seconds to shut the errant program down then you need to carefully reboot without it starting up again. Procedure: Which ever side is most tender put the hand of that side on the opposite shoulder then turn the head back toward the tender shoulder if that dose not press on the inflamed nerve and rest it on the bed for 90 seconds. If it helps visualize the program shutting down in the cerebellum and preparing for a clean reboot. Perhaps with Jocelyn's help bring the arm slowly up off the chest and move the elbow toward the side and slowly open the elbow with the palm up. This may give relief and if it is on the other side as well may have to be repeated for that side.

 
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I would come and help if I was nearer....

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:A little earlier this morning, I tried to rub what felt like a knot above Paul's right shoulder blade, and that was baaaad. It seems muscles are pulling, yanking, knotting, spasming to create this spinal pinch.

Paul managed to watch a YouTube video or two on cervical radiculopathy (out of sheer desperation), though I think the stretch he found, and other cervical spine lengthening things he's trying, are only increasing his neck and shoulder muscle spasms and knots right now. It's as if he's making a Hulk-style pose, fists clenched, arms in semi-circle, to get his neck to lengthen and un-pinch. That doesn't look right to me.



Muscle spasms are like "self-maintaining", because they depend on the autonomic nervous system. There is no control with the cortex on it. The ANS must be "fooled" so that it does the necessary by itself. The trick is to find what has to be done to cut the reflex...
And I know how to do it.
The best I can see is to try Somatic experiencing from Peter Levine. This is able to discahrge the nervous accumulation of undischarged energy that are in the muscles. I am trained in SE, and it works.

I also know another method and the closest you have in America would be the Jones techniques.
Instead of streching a muscle - which as you noticed make the counter reflex of contracting - they on the reverse shorten the muscles, in a passive way.

The result is that it send a message to the brain : " you can stop contracting, the streching is gone".
Muscles contract automatically when they think there is a threat of streching (which can go as far as dislocation, that is why the body does not like what pulls and react in the reverse way).

Until we have more information, I'm thinking easy stretching and movement to loosen and lengthen as gently as possible make sense right now. Plus gentle movement to flush out the inflammation and minimize the soreness of too little activity and/or trying weird positions to alleviate the pain. Open to suggestions along these lines!



The problem is to be gentle enough, and that is why the contrary is best. You want the body to de-spasm by itself.

I have reversed my wn problems, and the techniques I know work, BUT I have nobody to do them to me!
I begin to be able to do things to myself, but the so called "social engagement" (see Stephen Porges work on the vago-ventral, eg the ventral part of the vagal nerves from the para-sympatic system) is sooooo useful.
As I was forced to do it to myself, well I found ways, just need more times to do it.
About my neck, I had an old accident, whip-lash type, and the contraction can still come back after 30 years!
But again, what can I do from over-sea?
 
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Chris Badgett wrote: check out a condition call TMS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tension_myositis_syndrome



"According to Sarno, TMS is a condition in which unconscious emotional issues initiate a process that causes physical pain and other symptoms. His theory suggests that the unconscious mind uses the autonomic nervous system to decreases blood flow to muscles, nerves or tendons, resulting in oxygen deprivation, experienced as pain in the affected tissues."

This is congruent as well with what Peter Levine says.
BUT instead of emotional, psychological etc, it is focussed on the fisiological basis.
Animals know how to discharged accumulated energy.
Who do not let the process fully happen.
This is physical, electrical.

Easy to understand : imagine you drive and comes a danger from an other car. You might die, so the nervous system put all its energy in 1 second. ALL. And you escape, you are safe.
What the body does with this accumulated energy? There is an access and it must go away. This is the part we do not let happen the right way as animals do. So it accumulates.
Somatic experiencing is about discharging PHYSICALLY this excess. It is as physical and electric as what is known as grounding.
We ALL have some remains of old activations.
Even when you focus on not being angry at bad guys, there is activation in the nervous system.
Pain is like a child who pulls on mother's skirt and begging for attention. "Listen!". I have paid attention to some pains, which led me to DISCHARGE the energy that was contracting and spasming my muscles. After the discharge, then the pain went away.
It usually happens through trembling, laughging, sighing, yawning. These signals the automatic, do-it-on-its-own changes in the sympatic parasympatic system. The trembling is the earth rod that is at works. The electricity goes away.

Then, this article mention oxygen which I recognise in my symptoms as well. That is why I got interrested in the Buteyko method. It is about reeducating the breath. This is absolutely right that the body does not any more use glucose the right way. The body produces lactic acid instead of CO2, as if it was making a big effort, even when it is at rest. I personnally burn better fat than sugar, which make me better adapted to a paleo diet. But I know that I have to better my use of glucose. My ffating glucose is a little to high. The problem is not the diet but the functionning of my inner "rocket stove"!!! Glucose is wood, and you know that the quality of the stove make the burning efficient or not... Then ok, you can burn oil instead of wood, but if you better the stove, you solve the problem. You do not accuse the good dry wood you have, but you work on the system. No good oxygen, no good burning. And if there is a production of lactic acid, then the muscles are not doing great, and the system not only lack of oxygen, but also of the normal production of CO2. And CO2 is a very good anti-oxydant!
 
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Hi Guys... Tall Paul here... I've been a massage therapist since 1991 and the most common thing people do when they come to see me is point to the area that is hurting. That is the LAST place I work on!!! Remember the old song, "The leg bone is connected to the thigh bone"? All of our muscles are interconnected, especially through the nervous system. So, rather than touching the neck, I would gently work on the hands, forearms, upper arms, especially the deltoids (google it). I assume he is laying on his back so you can't get to his buttocks and lower back? If you can work on his back, there's a muscle that goes from neck all the way down to the lower back called the sacrospinalis. By starting to massage the buttocks (the largest muscle in the body) and the base of the sacrospinalis then move on up towards mid and upper back, you can really bring a lot of relief. Also, work on his feet, calves, and thighs. By bringing calming, soothing pleasure to the extremities, the back and neck will loosen up.

I am also a "Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist" and know that pain can be completely managed through Paul's AMAZING Mind! The more intelligent you are, the easier hypnosis works for you because you know the power of the brain. This group of Hypnotherapists has an EXCELLENT collection of recordings that you can download. Here's a link specifically to Pain Management (http://www.hypnosisdownloads.com/pain-relief%20?790)

 
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Please, please, please, Jocelyn, try the towel on the doorknob thing for neck traction. You don't need to be exhausting yourself doing this. Paul can be there happy as a clam, tractioning his neck as little or almost as much as he wants for as long as he wants. He can even fall asleep in that contraption, in fact, it's hard not to. Even when the tech fix arrives (the machine from Amazon), I doubt Paul is gonna want to try to sleep with the machine running. He can sleep in this if he wants to. You can save your own muscle strength for occasional massage.

I realize I made it sound complicated to set up in my first post. It's not, I was just being a little OCDish and trying to be thorough and careful. Fold up a towel, tie the ends together well and hang it on a doorknob so the bottom is just a bit off the floor. Done. I know the pic in my second post is not so hot, but gives an idea. Another take on simple directions is at the top of one of the three scanned sheets I sent you. It could change your life if it works for Paul, trust me on this one. Purdy please.

(BTW, very sorry if this post seems "should"y. I may issue pleas and even friendly orders; of course I know you will evaluate and do what you feel is best, you are there. Reading this saga brings up very strong feelings of going through pretty much exactly the same hell a bunch of years ago. Indescribable. In any case, I wish someone had pointed me in the right direction a few weeks earlier than actually happened... The difference was night and day, with the PT, home exercises to strengthen and realign the neck, and this contraption. So that is the spirit I'm writing in.)

[rant ]If I may be permitted: Re the doctor that said Paul has a "big head" and is "getting old" and there's nothing at all wrong with spending 8-10-12-14 hours a day in front of the computer. I hope it is not regarded as un-nice to say... I call BS! This sounds like it comes from a certain type of allopathic doctor and reflects the "dark side" of that type of training. Root causes, lifestyle issues, interrelatedness of various issues, and holisitc looks at whole people aren't the done thing. The main tools seem to be run an expensive test on this particular isolated phenomenon, BS the patient into simply doing what I say since they're not qualified to have an opinion, keep them relatively mystified and powerless, see if I can cut them open or prescribe a pill or two, and maybe begrudgingly refer to someone touchy-feely, unscientific and unqualified like a PT if I have to. [/rant] Jeez, that felt good.

My own opinion (and I think a lot of people's personal experience, and a lot of other types of experts' opinions, from anthropologists to more sensitive or holistic doctors), is that human beings are not made to do anything except maybe sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. Frequent breaks from any activity, interspersing with hopefully very different kinds of activity, are a kind of permaculture of your own body and are crucial to maintain all aspects of your health. Certainly the perils of continual sitting and continual computer use are well documented. It might be a neck or it might be a heckuva lot of other things, but something, and possibly an ever-increasing number of things, are gonna give.

I only know a little about Paul's day-to-day from what I read here on Permies, but my impression so far that he is a real kick-ass guy with a million unstoppable really, really important plans about things to do "out there" and also gifted with very "clear ideas" (aka a dominant personality). So unhealthy overwork is pretty much guaranteed.

To balance that intensity, which I think may be at the real rootiness of it all, I have a few weird suggestions (other than the towel traction thingy, please, please, please...):

1) The Pomodoro Technique. Loads of info, apps, etc all over the internet. Basically it means breaking your work into 25+5 minute blocks with occasional longer breaks. Concentrate on one thing only and work like crazy for 25 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break and do something really different. E.g. get off your damn patooty and do some yoga or neck-strengthening exercises. Repeat maybe 4x and then take a longer break. This makes life work so well it's crazy. Plenty of little things start to get attended to during those 5 minute breaks that have been sorely neglected for ages.

2) Delegate a lot more. I know, Paul is on the computer 12 hours a day (or whatever) because he "needs" to be. Actually, I bet there's significantly more than 24 hours a day of stuff in Paul's personal domain that really does "need" to be done. Even sleeping is a luxury. But like a big 5000 acre GMO corn field, it ain't sustainable, and as a matter of fact, it's not even good (IMHO, YMMD). This is a hard one for me too. But really, causing good stuff to happen in the world with a little bit of velocity *requires* empowering and inspiring tons of *other* people to do it. None of us is individually enough, you really can't make too much of a dent by yourself. Helping give direction to group efforts is where it's at. So a great model Paul's already created is right here in permies.com. A ton of things happen here, projects move forward, problems are solved and paradigms are shifted, every day, without Paul's personal involvement and often without him even knowing they're going on. He's created a team that's created a structure that moves his goals forward beautifully, with him and also without him. Empowering and inspiring is really a different skillset from dealing with the details, and when you care so passionately about the details, it is really hard to stand back and watch others you've delegated to make the mistakes you made doing the same thing 20 years ago. A big area for inner and outer work for us all. Paul's already good at it because he's already done it many times, he just maybe could put the pedal to the metal in this particular direction. Because he might just want to...

3) Take care of #1. But I mean really take care of him. There needs to be plenty of space in your life -- blast it out with dynamite if you need to -- for your "inner permaculture." Your body, your spirit, your art, your friendships, your laughter, all thrive on your hours of sweet attention you devote to them. They deserve your time and you deserve theirs. The drive or "need" to do one of these things (perhaps work) to the exclusion of the others really is a lot like a monoculture and has a lot of the same effects. It can take on the characteristics of an addiction too. But Paul seems like a decisive guy and I think a real decision to move in this direction would not be too hard. At one point I needed to make a similar decision. There were a million reasons why I couldn't. Nothing got better until I stopped listening to the (really good and true) reasons and just showed up in different places than I had been to do different things that needed my attention just as much as "work." It was great for me and the world didn't fall apart.

3a) Keep doing your PTs home neck-aligning and strengthening exercises without fail, every day, forever. That big head ain't gonna get any lighter and you ain't gonna get any younger.

3b) Keep going to the PT for a good while, even after the traction machine arrives.

4) Build trust and inspire (even more than you do already). That's what makes #2 and 3 increasingly possible. Once you've cultivated loads of people you can trust and uploaded tons of your accumulated wisdom and experience to them, and found ways you can practically build stuff together you both want, trust them and let go. Let them do their stuff, ignore the details except occasionally, and go have fun with someone else.

5) STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. Just leave it. Go!

I feel really obnoxious giving this amount of advice without knowing Paul better. But hey, this is an advice thread. So there. I did it.

PS - Did I say please, please, please try the little home neck traction thing? It might work! Really, it might!
 
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I second the DMSO idea. Nothing works better or more quickly for inflammation. It starts helping literally in seconds.
 
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Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, kinesio taping could alleviate some of that pain. If kinesio tape is available in your area.

Some application to consider.
youtube
youtube

All the best.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Hans, Paul has tried some of your suggestions. For those who haven't read the full thread (it is HUGE now thanks to many, many kind folks!) we thought initially that it was something muscular creating the pinch, though now we know from the MRI that the spine does not appear to be misaligned and thereby pinching things, it's the disc between C6 and C7 that has quite the bulge pinching/pushing on the spinal cord.

Some movement still hurts too much for Paul to do, and we do not want to aggravate the bulging disc right now.

The cervical traction helps the most so far. Paul's home unit arrived Monday evening. He's doing traction 3 times a day for 10 minute sessions each, at 25 pounds pressure (which is the pull) per the PT recommendations. After the traction, he is able to do some strengthening exercises to help his muscles hold his massive head (tee hee!) up off his neck and shoulders a bit better. We don't want him using the cervical collar for more than sleeping or severe pain, nor even doing excessive time in traction, because we don't want his supporting muscles to atrophy.

Interestingly, we might have overdone the tumeric. Paul developed a rather concerning rash and some sallow yellow places on his face. I've stopped the tumeric and the yellow places and the rash are both rapidly disappearing.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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And just so you know how severely limited things still are for Paul, yesterday, for the first time in three weeks now, he actually spent 15 minutes sitting at his computer. It was excruciating and beyond what he really wanted to tolerate.

Even with the regular traction for a couple days now, Paul usually only sits or stands for a couple minutes at a time. He can't finish a small meal without taking a break to lie on his back in the middle of it.
 
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Hmm, slowly, slowly, but at least some stuff is starting to work a bit!

Maybe try astaxanthin as an alternative antiinflammatory. Article from Dr. Merc:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/12/astaxanthin-the-antiinflammatory-nutrient.aspx

He of course sells his beloved krill oil and a straight AX supplement taken from tilapia.

The astaxanthin itself seems to all derive from a red algae, and one source of the natural vegan variety seems to be these producers on the Big Island (among others, I suppose):

http://www.nutrex-hawaii.com/

Though I think really until that bulging disc gets realigned or un-bulged or whatever, the antiinflammatories & other stuff will only be able to help so much.

Good luck!
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:we thought initially that it was something muscular creating the pinch, though now we know from the MRI that the spine does not appear to be misaligned and thereby pinching things, it's the disc between C6 and C7 that has quite the bulge pinching/pushing on the spinal cord.


I still think it is muscular.
No bone, no disc posture can be as it is without muscles pulling.
The tension can come from far, do you know the muscular chains? Muscles act one on another like those dominoes, you push one, and they all act on the follower.
one chain start in the ankles, the other in the neck. Every body has a chain going up or going down, depending on the location of our first accident in life. Tis is because a memory stays in the nervous system.

The resaon discs depend on muscles:
When a disc goes out on one side, it comes from tight muscles on the other side.
Just imagine pinching a little disc of soap between your fingers, it will go on the contrary side of the pressure.

I also have this disc problem, above the "bison hump", and it gets worse with the posture on the computer. I think the head tends to go ahead nearer to the screen, and changes the natural right posture.

I had an old whip-lash accident and I worked on the tension (= the memory of the body through the nervous system) with Somatic Experiencing.
It dramatically reduced my current headaches (well, more because of the muscles at the base of the scull, C1).
When the tension dropped by itself, I started to have a big nervous laugh, indicating that the sympathic activation stopped in favor of passing to a parasympathic relaxation. I still work on the fibrosis of the muscles, because this does not go away so quick.

I also recommand working on the breath with Buteyko method. The diaphragm is essential, and also getting more CO2, as this is a powerful help for the body to go into the parasympathic state.

Some one in pain is activated at the level of the autonomic nervous system, and you need to brake the circle and go back to a relaxed parasympathic state.
There is no access through the cortex to do this, but you can use the cortex to decide what to do, so that this state happens by itself.
 
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I know it sounds trite to tell you to be patient, but it took some time for Paul to reach this crisis point and it will take some time to get out of it. Kind of like gaining a prodigious paunch over twenty years, then trying to get rid of it in 6 months. It is doable, but it takes some discipline and patience. I think you are on the right track to recovery. If the pain is what is altering lifestyle the most, you might want to ask your neurologist about a nerve block. A TENS unit may be a less invasive solution. Your doctor or PT ought to be able to test one on you to see if it is effective. I am concerned about the prolonged use of pain meds and the physical inactivity. See if you can get a used but sturdy Total Gym with a squat stand (the commercial models are best, but not necessary to get started quick). You can lay down with a wedge and/or pillows and whatnot and get a moderate workout after 15 or 20 minutes of squats. Get your PT's ok before spending any money.
 
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Paul & Jocelyn,

Apologies for not joining in sooner. I'm currently in grad school for Chinese medicine. Our program includes acupuncture, anatomy, herbology and Western pathophysiology. Here is what I can offer:

First, what was the result of the MRI? If there is no disc herniation but merely bulging of intervertebral discs, prognosis is not bad. In either case, which and how many vertebrae are affected? If there is no bulging, and nerve impingement is due merely to muscle spasticity, prognosis is good.

Regardless, under no circumstances should ice or cold compresses be used! Although they may temporarily reduce blood flow to the region, thereby alleviating some pain and swelling, there is no physiological benefit in using them. This is because reduced blood flow equates to an impeded healing process in the case of tissue damage, and congealing of blood, lymph and synovial fluids, which leads to tighter, less elastic and more injury-prone muscle and joint tissues.

If there is no herniation, you should be able to recover smoothly by reversing the postural fatigue and hypertonicity that cause muscle spasms which pull joints out of alignmment, but off circulation to muscles and joints and impinge nerves to cause pain and inflammation. Let's hope this is the case. The below outline will resolve posturally-induced spasticity, which seems to be the etiology, here, even if there is already some bulging. That said, I have known people to recover almost completely from herniated discs, as well, but only through dedicated and focused daily exercise.

A strategic sequence of therapeutic measures will likely be more effective than blanket treatments: First, warm muscles and relax spasticity as much as possible to allow joint re-alignment with minimal tissue stress. Warmth and gentle internal friction of afflicted muscle fibers will also flush the region with fluids so that locked-up fibers will begin to slide past one-another. Heating pads can warm muscles, but fail to produce the internal agitation of fibrous tissues that promotes their lubrication and reconstruction. Chinese tui na massage, in my experience training in China, is one of the most direct ways to accomplish this process. The goal is to produce a vivid warm, tingling sensation in the muscles and joints that indicates productive inflammation and dissolution of vascular stasis. Rather than using slow, digging techniques to begin, use more rapid, circular motions that translates into superficial muscles and induces them to move similarly, thus causing gentle, sustained friction between muscle groups at different depths. When a tingling sensation is achieved, try to use slightly more force and depth to further translate this agitation to deeper muscles. At the very least, increased mobility should result from these techniques. You can use fingers, knuckles or elbow. Many instructional videos on tui na are available on Youtube, and while a professional would yield best results, one can certainly improvise. Here's an example of neck tui na:


It is important to remember that this kind of injury is most often due to postural stress, that is, disproportionate spasticity and flaccidity of different muscle groups in static positions. Thus, movement and reproportioning of muscle tone will "reprogram" muscles to proper and even tonicity. I see you've tried acupuncture already, but am curious whether electro-acupuncture, or "e-stim" as it is called, was tried. This method introduces electrical pulses through acupuncture needles inserted in or near multiple trigger points to balance tonicity accross different muscles groups so that they are using comparable force when pulling on joints. It is more effective than normal acupuncture for most orthopedic complaints. Muscles should be warmed and lubricated up (ideally via said massage techniques) before using either normal or electrical acupuncture for spasm.

Next, joint traction (stretching) and re-alignment must procede in order to release impinged nerves. A good chiropractor should be able to accomplish this, but, unfortunately, many chiropractors fail to adequately warm and lubricate muscle groups before manipulating joints. This results at best in cold, rigid, knotted muscles that pull joints right back out of alignment soon after they are adjusted, or at worst, tendon, ligament, muscle or joint-capsule injuries to stiffened muscle and connective tissue. I would recommend doing your own stretching exercises after adequately warming and lubricating the tissues. Draping back over a bed or exercise ball so that the neck hangs freely upside-down is probably the gentlest approach. If you're up to it, gravity boots and a pull-up bar (in a draft-free environment) would allow full relaxation of all muscle groups and controlled but thorough distraction of neck , shoulders and back joints. Short of these, here's how tui na practitioners stretch the neck:


Normal acupuncture may become more effective once the above 2 steps are achieved. You will have to find an acupuncturist to administer treatment, though, as it's a bit much to go into here. Suffice it to say that while massage and stretching help muscle tension, acupuncture helps attune the nervous system to relieve neurogenic tension. The fact that you did not seem to experience relief from acupuncture as yet may support my belief that your pain is rooted in postural fatigue, and only perpetuated by nerve impingement, despite the latter being the most direct reason for pain. Acupuncture, shiatsu and other similar modalities would probably be more useful in treating residual pain after this acute phase of spasticity is resolved with proper massage techniques.

Lastly, you must find ways to diversify physical activity so that all of the physical strain and chemical fatigue of protracted, unremitting tension is not focused on any muscle or muscle group, exclusively. I would concur with one of the forum members' suggestion to employ a standing computer table (or one that uses hydrolic legs to raise or lower as needed). Alternatively, you could get a desk-anchored extensible arm for your monitor that would extend, retract, raise and lower to whatever position would allow you to sit fully upright with your eyes directed straight ahead as if you were walking and looking toward the horizon. Another option might be video goggles that you could wear in a reclined position with your head resting comfortably back against a headrest or cushion. Regardless, the eyes should not be directed inferior of horizontal. I have a lot of experience with this dilemma as I am legally blind, and must also spend long hours at the computer. I have found the monitor arm to be the most efficacious posture-saver thus far.

In my opinion, your ailment is mechanical, and can therefore be most directly resolved through mechanical means. Herbal therapies can certainly help restore tissue chemistry to aid in the repair and resiliency of injured tissue, but most of we need in the way of chemical remedies can be had in a good bone soup. To nourish the neck tissues, boil a section of animal vertebra that includes all original bones, sinews, marrow, fat and nerves. This should contain all that your body needs to repair any damaged tissue, especially if the animal is raised to your standards.

I'd be there to try to help, myself, if I weren't anchored here at school. I do hope this is of some benefit and can certainly discuss further solutions if you'd like.

Here's wishing you a thorough recovery, whatever avenue leads you there!
Brian
 
Hans Quistorff
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:we thought initially that it was something muscular creating the pinch, though now we know from the MRI that the spine does not appear to be misaligned and thereby pinching things, it's the disc between C6 and C7 that has quite the bulge pinching/pushing on the spinal cord.



No bone, no disc posture can be as it is without muscles pulling.
The tension can come from far, do you know the muscular chains? Muscles act one on another like those dominoes, you push one, and they all act on the follower.
one chain start in the ankles, the other in the neck. Every body has a chain going up or going down, depending on the location of our first accident in life. This is because a memory stays in the nervous system.

The reason discs depend on muscles:
When a disc goes out on one side, it comes from tight muscles on the other side.
Just imagine pinching a little disc of soap between your fingers, it will go on the contrary side of the pressure.

Some one in pain is activated at the level of the autonomic nervous system, and you need to brake the circle and go back to a relaxed parasympathetic state.
There is no access through the cortex to do this, but you can use the cortex to decide what to do, so that this state happens by itself.



I concur with Xisca. One thing to draw to your attention is reciprocal rotation. Fallowing the law that every action has to have a balancing reaction. The reciprocal motion of T11/12 is C6/7. Laying on his back Paul has both supported and not too much demand for muscle action. Sitting or standing requires diagonal bracing. As you have learned with your building projects things collapse without enough diagonal bracing. The diagonal brace for the weight of the head goes into the top of the shoulder blades [those tender spots you found initially] then from the bottom inside edge of the shoulder blades to the back of T11/12 where it connects with muscles on the front of the spine to the front of the pelvis. This provides a diagonal brace from back to front or diagonally from one side to the other. The bottom of the diaphragm and the muscles that swing the arms when you walk also connect into the middle of the this brace. Therefore a small misalignment at the bottom of the ribs usually from bending, twisting and lifting all at the same time can start compensation patterns that wreak havoc on the skeletal system over time.

Connecting the dots In the above description: When Paul sits or stands uneven tension on the diagonal braces will put uneven pressure on the damaged disc and surrounding joint capsules. [they are what cause the local pain more than the disc in most cases] The total gym is good but overkill at this point. Just bringing the knees up in bed and pushing on the heels will activate the bracing. Try pushing on both heels and doing deep abdominal breathing. If you feel a strain on the spine at the bottom of the ribs then push with one heel at a time; the opposite elbow can often brace the spine and make it more comfortable. You have to feel your way through it.

There is no access through the cortex to do this, but you can use the cortex to decide what to do, so that this state happens by itself.

She is saying that when you consciously do things letting your mind take notice of what is happening, your automatic reflexes will program to support the best action possible. Currently Paul's body is operating with a lot of garbage code delaying or conflicting with the operating code. He will need to operate with considerable patch code for a while but as each subroutine is cleared of garbage code then the patch code needs to be removed. I hope my coding illustration helps him get the process.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Yes we concur, thanks Hans, and Brain too!

Brian Walker wrote:reversing the postural fatigue and hypertonicity that cause muscle spasms which pull joints out of alignmment, but off circulation to muscles and joints and impinge nerves to cause pain and inflammation. Let's hope this is the case.


Any way to enter the bad circle and change it into virtous is fine!
I agree with the best term of SPASM.
What I do on postural muscles is a de-spasm technique too, stopping the transmission through muscular chains.
Works best on chronic pains, or to prevent them to come back after 1st treatment.

First, warm muscles and relax spasticity as much as possible to allow joint re-alignment with minimal tissue stress. Warmth and gentle internal friction of afflicted muscle fibers will also flush the region with fluids so that locked-up fibers will begin to slide past one-another. ... internal agitation of fibrous tissues that promotes their lubrication and reconstruction.



It looks like what I do on myself. I know about the Swiss method of Dr Furter, and he acts on the skin, by rubbing.
Self-aid is possible in this. Find where your skin is especially sensitive and work on the skin only, and reaching just below. Nerves are like branches with a comon stem. So, a deep pain will also have consecuences on the same nerve those part goes to the skin.
I have bad tendons in my elbows, and I can follow the path on my skin by pinching it.
Of course, like almost everybody, I work on it only when I feel pain, and always stop it too soon...

At the moment, when I work on my neck, I find hard fibers, and put my finger on it, then VEEEEry slowly, I move my finger on all sides, or in spiral, just moving the fibers. I follow what the fibers tell me, up to what they can move, without forcing anything. It has to do with the fluid that Brian discribe best.

WHEN I DO SOMETHING FOR MYSELF I FEEL MORE EMPOWERED, and less bored.
Very often I have a sigh that correspond to going down to a more relaxed state, parasympathic.

Next, joint traction (stretching) ... knotted muscles that pull joints right back out of alignment soon after they are adjusted,
That is what I mentionned as my reticence to streching work.
Any stress make the body feels there is an "attack", and create the opposite reaction. That is why streching must be repeted and repeted again.
I guess some good techniques and good warming, and Veeeeery progressive strech can help in the acute phase.
My teaching about ANS says "less is more".
Control of what the body does by itself thanks to our wonderful autonomic nervous system is very subtle.
All good results come when the body performs by itself.
Whatever you do that make the body do what you want is the good way.
eg in what I do, instead of stretching I shorten, to tell the brain "there is no more pulling, so you can stop asking the muscles to contract". This stops the spasm.
Best done for the residual spam, the ones that are nearly unnoticeable when the crisis is over.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Hans Quistorff wrote:

There is no access through the cortex to do this, but you can use the cortex to decide what to do, so that this state happens by itself.

She is saying that when you consciously do things letting your mind take notice of what is happening, your automatic reflexes will program to support the best action possible.



Yes, but I also mean more than this.
Best with an example.
Try to accelerate your heart rate with your mind. No way.
If you know how the ANS function, you chose the right film that make you afraid, and you reach your goal: heart accelerate BY ITSELF.

Try to de-spasm with your mind, no way. Try to find why the body feels it is better to prtects itself with a spasm, and you can find the way.

I am an animal behaviorist. You cannot explain to a pet with words why they are wrong in their choice, but they believe their choice is good, adapted. Find the access to their nervous system, and you can solve the problem.

I also mean even more. When there is stress, there is activation of the sympathic system. Somatic Experiencing is currently presented as a trauma treatment, but it is much more than this. It is about life, it is permaculture of the nervous system.
The idea behind SE is that animals know how to discharge the unused part of an activation when the action is over. We keep too much. And this process is out of reach of the ind, it must take place by itself, THOUGH we can do something so that it happens. SE has made me understand deeply what is meditation too.
Some rules of the ANS are: it does not know time, so you can work in the present about what de-activation was not done before. And very important: it does not know the difference between reality and imagination. So we work with imagination. The goal is to discharge the nervous system so that it can funtion, as a lot, like imune system or digestion to name a few, do not work during activation.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Hans Quistorff wrote: The bottom of the diaphragm and the muscles that swing the arms when you walk also connect into the middle of the this brace.
... and doing deep abdominal breathing.



Yes, diaphragm is important.
And CO2 is fundamental. It is antiinflamatory and leading to a parasympathetic state. When I shorten a muscle, it is just movement and holding the posture, I use the expiratory apnea, e few seconds, 7-8 is enough as it must be done with NO effort or contraction. The de-spasm is then easier.
Really, Buteyko is right.
Be careful with the word DEEP breathing, as this can be misinterpreted. Anything that hyperventilate will result in a loss of CO2 and less blood irrigation, and thus less oxygen for the body!!
It is the reverse as it seems, hyperventilation does not bring more oxygen. We just need to breath the just necessary for not being out of breath. Rest breathing should be shallow, as invisible as a baby's respiration. When you are tired, a sign is that you feel out of breath with very little effort. That what corrects Buteyko's method.

Abdominal breathing is the focus. Almost nobody knows which is the contraction and the relaxation part of the respiration: inspiration or expiration ? Which needs to put an effort? inhalation. By pushing downward, so that it massages the lower organs. Exhalation should be only a total relaxation. Doing this, the body works half time, and recovers its capacity for ondulation. All is waves in life.

Abdominal is not only abdominal, but you hardly see it in the back, because of the ribs.
When you sit, the shoulders go up, but this is only the result of lungs filling in. When you exhal, shoulders go down by their own weight. And the diaphragm goes up by relaxing, because this is its relaxed state. So you should feel like a vertical pump at work, with the only effort being the diaphragm pushing downward when inhalating.

I think this can be a good exercice for Paul.
1st consciousness of owns patern, then find the diaphragmatic movement.
Then try to breath like a baby, by reducing the inbreath to create a very light air hunger. This will increase CO2, relaxing effect in 2-3 mns only!
Be absolutely careful to have a posture prohibiting breathing by the mouth at night.
Breath only by the nose.
 
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Just checking in on Paul. Haven't seen any updates in a few days. While I wish I had something to offer Paul in the way of help, suggestions, or miracles, I don't. Only my concern and get well soon wishes. I keep you and your small support community in my thoughts daily while trying to infect brains with permaculture. Thanks Paul, though we may never meet (I hope to one day) your impact in my life is very large (like your head). May your discs bulge less (soon!) and May the Force Be With You.
 
paul wheaton
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I spend nearly all day every day on my back. Jocelyn will make a lovely meal and I sit up long enough to eat about 4 bites and then I have to lie down again.

My traction contraption is here. I'm doing it fairly regularly. Once I use it I can be upright for about 10 minutes. I usually use that time to do my physical therapy exercises.

Jim rigged up some pulleys in the office and I wrap the whole bunch of ace bandages round my head in an attempt to be able to kind of get a way to hold the weight of my head up off of the jelly donuts. It didn't work out. I ordered a different things from Amazon we'll see if that helps at all.

I'm having a really hard time sleeping. Sometimes the pain level while I'm lying down is about 1 and sometimes it is pushing the 6.

I've had days where I couldn't do anything on my phone. And I've had other days where I could do a couple of hours. Today has been a better day. Although I only got 3 hours of sleep last night.

I started a new thread here in meaningless drivel about audio books how much they've been helping me. I would link to it, but that's a big pain in the ass from a cell phone.

The doctor said that it jelly from the jelly donut would probably just get absorbed by my body eventually. I'm still rooting for that. Will it be weeks or months? Cuz I got shit to do!

I'm angry, sad, frustrated and at the same time I know that there are people out there that have it far worse than me, so I'm trying to not be too much of a whiner about it.

Jocelyn has been taking excellent care of me, her own work is getting sacrificed for my care.

I really hope I can sleep good tonight.

Creative grammar and spelling brought to you by my voice recognition software
 
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One of the silver linings of this cloud may be that you will spur improvements to the permies mobile experience and this will infect more brains with permaculture
 
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Here's the link that Paul mentioned tonight about Reading Him a Story . Check the link to read about it, or

Here's The Gist: Paul is able to ignore or shift his attention away from the pain by listening to audio books. He's interested in an audio book of Ecotopia. One was found available but it is a cassette. Can anybody get it and convert it from cassette to a big mp3 file? Pretty please with candy on top!

Here's the go to on the cassette: http://www.amazon.com/Ecotopia-Audio-Novel-Ernest-Callenbach/dp/1559270527%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJ3XCC7GLJWZDXC2A%26tag%3Dbook0dc0-20%26linkCode%3Dsp1%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D1559270527

I have enough tech savvy to cut and paste to create this post on permies, but don't have the skills to fulfill Paul's need here. Anybody do this sort of thing? Paul has offered candy of sorts. Not that I would personally accept anything for such divine purposes as healing the Duke.

Wishing you well, Paul.

Many thoughts are with you.

and for what it might be worth Happy valentines day! -you are loved. <3

 
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Paul - one quick idea for you. Have you tried a stylus on your phone? I have a relations with finger problems, and he is lightning fast with a stylus on his phone. Might be an alternative to voice recognition.
 
paul wheaton
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Lazlo Rose wrote:Paul - one quick idea for you. Have you tried a stylus on your phone? I have a relations with finger problems, and he is lightning fast with a stylus on his phone. Might be an alternative to voice recognition.



I am on my back. My right arm is in big pain. So I can use my left hand to interact with my phone. But this is a very different way of interacting with gravity. I am building a lot of muscles with the current cell phone interaction. I don't think I'm quite yet ready for that much interaction from this position.
 
Rick English
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Gravity smavity. Use the Force Paul
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I have this book, from Peter Levine who founded the Somatic Experiencing:

Freedom from Pain : Discover Your Body's Power to Overcome Physical Pain

https://www.bookdepository.com/Freedom-from-Pain-Peter-Levine/9781604076639

Anger, sadness and so on, come more when you are stuck, it makes feel powerless.
When you can actually DO something, anger goes.
That is permaculture, do good stuff and less angry at bad guys.

The vicious circle has to be turned into a divine circle. SE is a good method for reversing this and reversing pain. It also make the muscle over-tone go away.
I there speak about what I do and really practise, backed-up by theory for sure, but it works.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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http://www.normalbreathing.com/

This website talks about Buteyko method. It is not well written, a lot of repetitions too, you might find better, but if someone can get through it for you and make you do the breathing exercices, it will definitely help.
And no opposition with any method that you use now.

I also use it, and it is very interesting, it works. Same as going in high altitude for bettering sport, asthma and so on, but from home. CO2 is free in the air, and acts as a powerful stuff. It really really helps to relax muscles. It is even more than a help by itself.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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In essential oils, I use french estragon (tarragon in English?) for relaxation of nerves and muscles. And it tastes good....

Locally, I don't what would be best between gaultheria, eucalytus citriodora and helichrysum italicum... or a mix.
You can check out their specificities for a personal choice. Rubbing the skin for the oil to enter, without hurting, no massage.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I do not know what sort of exercice etc you do Paul.
For checking which muscles are involved, exist "trigger points". When there is pain, it means that this muscle is tight.

If something in common with what I have at a vEEEEEry lower level, then I can suspect the unpronounciable sterno-cleido-mastoid...
I do not know if information about trigger points is available curently.
This point can be checked out from lying on the back position.
It is below the clavicula. Just in between the sternum bone and the extremity of the shoulder.
Press in direction of the feet with one finger.
NOTE: when I say press, this has to be very gentle and progressive, and stop at the 1st sign of pain. Pain indicates that this muscle is contracted, at autonomic level.
This point tests only the cleido part of the muscle.
The sterno part point is a little higher, in the middle on the neck, on the front side, though at the exterior.
Put both hands on the side of the neck, from above te lying person. They have to be parallel.
Then rotate your hands upward so as to be able to free the index finger, slightly above the neck and make the hand go down on the side of the neck again, but with these fingers on the muscles. So you test both sides.
Again very slow and gentle.

Hope this can be useful, it is just a check, as you have your methods. It might just be useful to adapt for specific muscles.

What works for little time is better than anything, when there is pain, each moment with no pain or less pain is great.

I just mean that the autonomic nervous system is reversing what has gone better with exercices. That is why I insist about taking into account the breathing and a work on the nervous system. It is a physical work, that is why it is called somatic, and it is not psychological. You can feel that the bdy is electric and so tha pain. This work is like putting an earth rod for discharge of any excess.
 
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I've got a bit of good news! Paul started using one of these inflatable neck stretchers and the pain in his arm dropped by 80% even while he was sitting up!
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I can't take it! You are too smart for me! Here is the tiny ad:
Permaculture Design Course in Divinya - a yogic community in Sweden
https://permies.com/t/106159/permaculture-design/Permaculture-Design-Divinya-yogic-community
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