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Friday, 3 October 2014

Hiatus, and Cervical Collars..... (Neck supports)

Very little work done lately, so nothing to show; I finished 3 postcard-size acrylics for the Art for Youth auction, which will held in London later this month, but given it's an anonymous auction I can't show them here until it's over - and incidentally, I do find painting that small a real challenge.

The reason for the inactivity otherwise has much to do with cervical spondylosis - arthritis of the neck vertebrae, basically.  And as I have no work to show, I shall ride a hobby-horse into town for a moment.

If you suffer from neck pain - which tends to come and go - you will know that when it's at its worst nothing will shift it: you can't stand, sit or lie in any comfortable position.  Sleep is difficult, and when you do get off, you tend to wake at odd intervals and so don't get a restful night - now, many of us deal with this with painkillers, but even the strongest aren't much use without immobilizing, or at least limiting the mobility of, the neck.

Here is where support collars come in.  I have one which I wear at night when the pain is severe.  If you look online, and in text-books, including the know-it-all Wikipedia, you will see that support collars have little proven effectiveness; physios tend to advise against them, or at least the more dogmatic ones do.  It is claimed that they can even do harm, as they weaken the muscles of the neck.

These claims are drivel.  For one thing, if you wore a collar every hour of every day and night, yes, your neck muscles might well atrophy; but few of us would, and very few need to.  This claim by the way is made at the same time as the (accurate) observation that a collar doesn't actually immobilize the neck at all: it just makes you aware of limitations to movement, tends to make you hold the neck still, even in sleep, and it warms the muscles.  So while on the one hand it weakens the muscles, on the other hand it doesn't actually affect them sufficiently to do any good ..... crap.  Both points can't be right.

I have tried everything for neck pain, exercises, drugs, even "cracking" the neck manually.  The only thing that works, and it won't do so immediately, is a combination of painkiller and a firm support collar.  If you've been discouraged from using them and told they don't work by some fathead physio who's never had spondylosis him or herself, smile sweetly at them - or don't, it's entirely up to you.  Either insist they provide you with a collar so you can find out for yourself, or pretend you've listened to them and go out and buy one.  Try it and see, and if it doesn't work for you you can always send it to me........

There is so very little that the medics can do for osteo-arthritis (they can do a bit more for rheumatoid arthritis, a desperately unpleasant condition for those unfortunate enough to have it) other than drug it, or prescribe generally useless exercises plus the TENS machine, which they prefer because they think it's "scientific".  The one thing that does bring relief is the one thing of which they're most suspicious.  Probably they think it's too easy - that treatment should involve effort, stretching, deep breaths and pure thoughts; the sort of thinking that used to lie behind the idea that medicine would be better for you if it tasted like swamp water a camel had died in.   Ignore all that.  Get a collar.

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