The Cervical Traction Kit Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Cervical Traction Kit

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The title is sure to bring tears to the eyes, but when you learn that cervix is also Latin for 'neck'1, you begin to understand why this medical device might be necessary.


Pain in the Neck

As we get older we start to acquire aches, pains and twinges with increasing regularity. For most of us, these are thankfully short-lived, but for some the pain can be acute or chronic.

Neck pains are particularly troublesome. Muscular spasms can result in conditions like torticollis (stiff or twisted neck). Disabling diseases like osteoarthritis occur when the cartilage in the joints wears away, leading to swelling, stiffness and a lifetime of pain for the sufferer, with no known treatment other than pain relief.

These conditions can often be improved by stretching muscles to reduce spasms, or realigning bones to improve joint movement. We've all seen traction set up over a hospital bed, where a patient has a limb extended at an unnatural angle, but the treatment is also available for neck-pain sufferers, and you can set up the cervical traction kit in the comfort2 of your own home.

Driven to this Traction?

Traction is basically a treatment involving a system of weights and pulleys which are designed to pull one of your body parts into another position. You will need to be attached appropriately, then have the weight applied, before you relax with it like that for a period of time.

In the case of the home cervical traction kit, a bracket attaches to the top of an internal door. There's a pulley at the top with a rope looped around it. One end is attached to a harness or cradle that goes around your head and under your chin. At the other end is a large bag which you fill with water. It's not easy and quite possibly dangerous to set it up for yourself, but a partner should be able to help you into the thing. In any case, follow your physician's advice on all such matters.

What follows is one Researcher's experience of using the kit to help alleviate an acute twisted neck.

The Stringy Head-tricks Experience

Choose your internal door wisely: you won't want anyone to use it for a period of time. Either stick a notice to that effect on the other side, or use a closet door, having first made sure that there's no-one lurking in the closet.

You sit in a straight-backed chair (dining-room variety) with your back to the door while your partner helps you into the harness, then attaches the water-filled bag to the other end of the rope. The whole thing looks to the casual observer like a diagram in an applied maths textbook; if you know the weight of the bag, then you should be able to calculate the tension - thinking about such things might well help you relax. The bag shouldn't be large enough that its weight is greater than yours, otherwise you'll quickly find yourself dangling from the top of the door like a convicted Middle-Eastern dictator.

Your partner gently releases the weight, and you feel the odd sensation of your skull being slowly lifted out of its socket. Make sure you have anything to hand that you will need for the duration of the traction session. You can't easily fetch things for yourself, although your partner will be happy to help, as they look sympathetically down at your predicament. You can watch TV if you like. One Foot in the Grave is ideal.

After two minutes, your partner decides you're not going to die after all and goes shopping.

After ten minutes, you've confessed to anything you've ever done, and more besides.

After 30 minutes, you've converted to Buddhism.

After 45 minutes, you're having vivid out-of-body experiences. You float off and make yourself a cup of tea, then sit somewhere four feet off the ground in the opposite corner of the room, watching yourself.

After 120 minutes, your partner suddenly remembers that they should have come home and released you an hour ago. When they help you out of the thing, they must remember to slowly take the weight of the water. If they instead release the head from the harness while the counterweight's in place, then there are some loud twanging noises, and your head ends up in the bird bath.

The Aftermath

Your neck pain is gone, but this Researcher found it often returned a few hours later. You have acquired an inane grin, and a physique which means you'll never have to sit in the front row of the cinema ever again.

1Not just the neck of the uterus.2'Comfort' in the idiomatic sense.

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