has anyone used a saunders cervical traction device?

Jyoti

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I use one daily. It has been a life saver for me. I started with a PT who was cervically knowledgeable and found that manual traction was a big help. She suggested I get a Saunders device, which I did. I have been using it for a year now and I think it is my best friend. Alas, it hasn't gotten rid of all my symptoms, but it keeps them at bay, tamped down and more manageable than they were.

It also gives me a sense of security--I have a go-to when things get bad. I've been told by a number of doctors, including one of the neurosurgeons, that it is ok to use it regularly. Lately I have added doing a modified 'downward dog' which also allows my cervical spine to lengthen and to have some of the pressure taken off. I think it is another way to achieve a similar goal.

Anyway--for me--I haven't found any one thing as helpful in my many experiments.
 
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ebethc

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@Jyoti

did you need PT help in calibrating the saunders device?

I went to a PT for a couple of sessions and she was useless.... She didn't even seem to know what a Saunders device was, and didn't offer to find out and even said that i should ask my general doctor - which is absurd. however, it made me wonder how common and how effective these devices are... good to know what the neurosurgeon said re safety! I have stenosis (at a minimum) which is common so, of course, my symptoms were dismissed.

thanks for the downward dog suggestion!
 

Jyoti

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My PT said that she advocated a supine device over the over the door type because it is much safer, is easier to control degree of traction, and does not mobilize the jaw, as the latter does. I never got to try the other sort so have no comparison. Obviously the Saunders type is a lot pricier. I got Comfort-Trac, which is comparable but a bit cheaper than Saunders.

I wouldn't say she calibrated it, but she told me not to go much over 20 lbs and showed me how to use it. Her technique involved 3 minutes or so in traction, then release for a minute and repeat up to about ten minutes total. It felt good to have her guidance, but it is pretty intuitive.

So sorry you had such an ignorant PT! From what I learned when researching, these are pretty commonly used by PTs. In fact, I started off with one from my PTs office which she lent me--and obviously it was there to lend out to patients who might get a good result--and once I'd been able to use it for a month, it was clear that it would be worth the investment.

It would be nice if you could get a sense of whether traction is helpful to you. Can you have a careful friend perform some gentle traction when you are lying down, just to see if it makes any difference?
 

junkcrap50

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I started with a PT who was cervically knowledgeable
How did you find a good PT who understood the cervical neck and respected the possibility of CCI/AAI?

I don't think I have CCI/AAI but have lots of neck and posture pain, so want to get some PT and manual work to help with it. But I'm discouraged at the thought of just trial and erroring a bunch of PT people.
 

ebethc

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@Jyoti

My chiropractor showed me how to do an over the doorknob method with a homegrown device (towel, stretchy band, duct tape)... it seems safer than some of the contraptions out there, and is gentle traction that doesn't pull on my jaw or lift my head at a weird angle (also supine postion)... I did it right before bed and felt like my sleep was better (deeper / REM sleep... I actually remembered my dreams, which hasn't happened in years!).. I do feel like I would like something that I can measure and understand how much pressure is being applied for consistency and safety... the homegrown device was a good pilot test.

Good to know that 20 lbs is a good guideline, and comfort-trac is a good brand ... thanks! The one on amazon is $389, "Cervical Home Traction Kit 2.0" ... is this the one?
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000II85YC/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=A3H2EVV8VAZBLA&psc=1
 

Judee

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I agree with @Jyoti's PT's advice with trying "supine" tractioning first. I put some suggestions here on trying a towel to mimic my tractioning pillow: https://forums.phoenixrising.me/thr...i-aai-chiari-stenosis-etc.76887/#post-2215770

There is some other good info on CCI in that thread as well like #6 where hip talks about devices vs a collar.

I also have the over the door type tucked away somewhere here and that thing was miserable for me to use. It was just too much however I have not tried the one you mentioned as even pillow tractioning can be too much at times for me.
 
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Jyoti

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@ebethc --that's the one. And you have had a trial run. I resonate with your experience of better and deeper sleep. It is a good sign, no?

@junkcrap50 --I was fortunate enough to have a network of healthcare folks--chiropractor, functional medicine doctor, etc--who were able to recommend a few PT shops. I called them all and asked questions about their familiarity with cervical spine issues, CCI and AAI. I explained that it was a pretty sensitive situation--far beyond pain in the neck. One guy told me he wasn't expert enough. Another practice didn't have an appointment for four months with the right person, and so I chose the final one, which did have someone with some neck expertise and availability. She was a good listener and learner as well, though she started out knowing almost as much as I do about CCI.
 

Judee

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did it help w fatigue, aches/pains, brain fog?
I can't answer for Jyoti but I had a year of PT for neck/TMJ issues. She was excellent. A full hour 2-3x per week just working those areas. They also gave me therapy exercises to do 3x per day.

Plus, I have seen chiropractors since I was 18 (almost 35 years ago now). Most of them have also been excellent at relieving my neck and back pain however, unfortunately for me, none of this has helped with the chronic fatigue. I will say on maybe 2 occasions after an adjustment, I had a slight uptick in energy for part of the rest of the day but it was just those times and hasn't happened again.

That being said, if you have CCI or Chari or one of those maybe the therapy would help with the ME/CFS.
 

Jyoti

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@ebethc-- Using the traction device has expanded my capacities. Since I started using it a year ago, I have been able to do things that seemed utterly impossible beforehand. Who knows if this can be laid at the doorstep of the traction? It has been the main change I have made during this time, but the illness is felicitous and unpredictable.

On a small scale--my 16 year old daughter got her first real job last year shortly after I got my device. I held my breath and prayed she wouldn't get any late/evening shifts that I would need to pick her up from. (I tend to be useless and fully dysfunctional after about 5pm.) Inevitably, she got schedule for a shift that concluded at 8:30. I had no idea how I would manage to pick her up without driving the car off the road, but that night I used the device for a bit longer than recommended shortly before leaving and I was able to do so safely. Moreover, with a sense that it was not absolutely nuts to attempt to drive.

On a larger scale--I felt compelled for a number of reasons--many to do with my ultimate well-being-- to move across the country this year. The task was basically unthinkable. I am moderate, but making a two hour drive was enough to cause me days of suffering. Because of covid, the move was four times as complicated and stressful as an 'ordinary' cross-country move might have been. I am not feeling great right now, but I am standing, as it were. I don't think i could have done it without traction.

I notice when I do the traction that my entire body releases. I can tell the session is 'done' when my eyes focus properly. I am more functional, both physically and mentally. The improvements fade over time, over the next few hours, but they are notable while present.

Ebethc--what do you know about the pathology in your neck? Have you had imaging done? What do you suspect? I am pretty sure I have vertical CCI to some degree because traction creates both relief and overall improvement. My imaging to date has not backed this up and instead suggests AAI. However I have a terrible time in cervical collars. Have you experimented with them? What did you notice?
 

Jyoti

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Sorry @ebethc --you said you had been diagnosed with stenosis. Which can cause a lot of problems, certainly. No matter how 'common,' as your doctor was want to note. But have you done MRI in flexion/extension or rotation to rule out CCI and AAI?
 

gbells

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I had arm radiculopathy due to shifted neck intervertebral disks from slouched posture. Vertical traction didn't help. I ended up locking my chair in the upright position and doing PT Mackenzie therapy to shift intevertebral disks, muscle strengthen and treat trigger points. That fixed it after three months.
 
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ebethc

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Sorry @ebethc --you said you had been diagnosed with stenosis. Which can cause a lot of problems, certainly. No matter how 'common,' as your doctor was want to note. But have you done MRI in flexion/extension or rotation to rule out CCI and AAI?
this is the list of tests, per my notes... I only had Cervical (supine, no contract) which is why those ones are bolded... Which ones are flexion/extension or rotation? none? what is missing from my list?

The dx is stenosis and bulging discs

CHIARI
  • MRI Brain (supine, no contrast)
  • MRI Cervical (supine, no contrast)
CCI
  • MRI Cervical (supine, no contrast)
  • MRI Lumbar (supine, no contrast)

  • Diagnosis:
    • degenerative changes cervical spine, c5-c7 …. (question from note: how do you know it’s degenerative, and not congenital?)
    • posterier disc bulges causing cervical stenosis ….
    • neural foraminal narrowing ….
 

Jyoti

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I am not an expert on the imaging needed to diagnose various cervical spine problems, but this is my understanding:
--Bolognese prefers (or did) MRI 3T supine cervical
--Henderson and Gilete prefer MRI upright in flexion, extension and neutral

There are a lot of threads, plus the Facebook groups, where there is a lot of definitive info on this.

Personally, I had cervical spine upright with flexion and extension as well as supine in 3T. I also had --at Henderson's office insistence--a cervical CT scan without contrast in rotation.
 

Gingergrrl

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what was your experience?
I apologize I did not read the entire thread @ebethc but wanted to reply with my experience. I did PT at the end of 2018 (for several months) and used a Saunders cervical traction device for my neck pain. I do not have CCI/AAI but I have mild stenosis and also cervical radiculopathy on the right side of my neck that shoots down my right arm.

I found the traction helpful during PT but it did not change anything for me long-term and I decided against buying a device to use at home without supervision in case something went wrong. Although there are newer versions of the device than the one that I used at PT that look safer and easier to maneuver at home without a PT present to assist.

The PT and rehab pilates were very helpful for me at that time to build muscle strength after four years of using a wheelchair. But nothing (so far) has helped my ongoing neck pain and pain that shoots down my right arm.
 

ebethc

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@ebethc You happen to have images with measurements for the disc bulges, with cervical stenosis. Would be interesting to look at. Perfectly fine if not though.
are you "fluent" in MRI imaging? I would love to know what someone else says besides my doc, but I'm too sick to dig out the image (it's on a disk and I have to find my disk drive somewhere in my closet, and i'm just too tired w all the california wildfire pollution)... BUT, in general, I would love feedback... especially since I don't have all the images that Dr B requires... I'd like at least a solid take on the ONE image I have..

BTW, there have been studies re the wild variance in MRI interpretation ... here's just one:
Conclusions
This study found marked variability in the reported interpretive findings and a high prevalence of interpretive errors in radiologists' reports of an MRI examination of the lumbar spine performed on the same patient at 10 different MRI centers over a short time period. As a result, the authors conclude that where a patient obtains his or her MRI examination and which radiologist interprets the examination may have a direct impact on radiological diagnosis, subsequent choice of treatment, and clinical outcome.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1529943016310932

Bottom Line: MRI imaging DEFINITELY requires a 2nd opinion!