Nullifying Neck and Back Pain

After years of suffering, noninvasive therapies provide long-sought relief.

Like a lot of young girls, Peggy Ganzman spent several of her teenage years babysitting. And, much like a lot of teenage babysitters, she has an adventure or two in babysitting that she will remember for as long as she lives.

Photo by Marc Edwards.

Peggy Ganzman and Rosie

One such escapade happened back in her hometown of Havre de Grace, Maryland, where she was tasked one night with watching the two children of a couple who lived in a two-story walk-up above a liquor store.

“I was about fourteen, and one of the children I was babysitting was a nine-month-old girl,” Peggy, now 87, remembers. “The other was a two-year-old boy, and he and I were downstairs in the living room playing when the baby woke up crying.

“I went upstairs to get her, leaving the toddler downstairs. He had been playing with some toy cars and just like in the cartoons, I came down the steps, stepped on a car that had been left on a step and both of my feet went out from under me.

“The good news is, I never let go of the baby, so she was fine. But I came crashing down on my back and wound up sliding down the rest of the stairs, all the way to the bottom. Ever since then, I’ve had a lot of back and neck problems.”

One of the problems is spinal stenosis, which is an abnormal narrowing of the spaces in the spinal canal around the nerve root. The narrowing puts pressure on nerves, which results in pain in both the back and neck.

That and an array of other issues forced Peggy to undergo back surgery in 1982 for a ruptured disc. She once contemplated having neck surgery as well but eventually opted against it out of fear it would debilitate her too much.

“This was back in the Fifties, and I would have had to wear one of those big neck collars,” Peggy reveals. “I didn’t want to do that because it would have restricted me too much and because I’m a bit claustrophobic. So, I just fought through it.

“I’ve always done that. Even with my back pain. The surgery didn’t really help me much, so I’ve always just toughed it out because I’ve always been very active. Even now, I stay busy helping to build houses for Habitat for Humanity® and things like that.”

Peggy also likes to put jigsaw puzzles together, but her neck pain became so intense recently that no matter what she was doing, whether it was simply working on a puzzle or painting a house, she struggled to complete the task.

“The pain in my neck was just excruciating,” Peggy reports. “And it was driving me nuts. It was going into my shoulders, and it never stopped. It even hurt when I slept. Or maybe I should say tried to sleep, because it kept me up at night a lot, too.

“Driving was another problem. I couldn’t turn my head to see around me, and I actually got kind of scared to drive. Then one day, I was in a doctor’s office, and I read an article about a treatment in Florida Health Care News.

“The article was about this girl who had been in a lot of neck pain just like I was, and I thought to myself, I’ve tried everything else to get rid of this; I may as well give this treatment a try and see what it does.”

FHCN file photo.

Multi-Cervical Unit

The treatment Peggy read about is delivered through a unique medical device called a Multi-Cervical Unit, or MCU machine, and is available exclusively at Active Health Center, which has its offices in North Palm Beach.

Unique, Nonsurgical Device

The MCU is a unique, nonsurgical device that isolates and strengthens the muscles around the neck and provides a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s physical progress while the patient receives the therapy.

A tool in what doctors refer to as evidence-based medicine, the MCU records 16 different ranges of muscle movement for strength to determine the specific areas of the neck where there are weaknesses, imbalances or a loss in range of motion.

“They really got me squared away.” Peggy

Once that data is revealed, a customized treatment program is designed that allows the MCU to correct those problems. Considered the most complete and efficient system for assessment and rehabilitation of the neck, the MCU has proven to be a highly effective tool.

According to Active Health Center, studies show that after receiving MCU therapy, patient pain levels decreased by 66 percent while strength levels increased by more than 70 percent, with more than 90 percent of patients making a full recovery.

Intrigued by what she read of the MCU machine, Peggy visited Active Health Center, where she was placed under the care of Colin O. Behrue, DC. During her first visit, Peggy was given a thorough examination that included tests to determine her candidacy for MCU therapy.

“What we learned from our examination was that Peggy had some pretty severe arthritis,” Dr. Behrue reports. “So, we started her on the MCU machine, and after a few sessions, she was starting to get better. Then she had a bit of a setback.”

The setback was the result of a tumble Peggy took over a friend who had fallen in front of her while walking through a hospital parking lot. The impact of the fall erased a lot of the progress Peggy had made during those first few sessions on the MCU machine.

Photo by Marc Edwards.

Two specific treatments have relieved Peggy of her neck and back pain and are allowing her to comfortably walk Rosie again.

“The doctors at the hospital wanted to look at me there, but I told them I was already seeing a chiropractor and that I’d just go there and have them look at me,” Peggy says. “That’s when I found out it was pretty much back to square one for me.”

It was indeed back to square one for Peggy, but had she not been receiving MCU therapy prior to the fall, she may have suffered a far worse setback, Dr. Behrue informs. Her prior experience on the MCU machine proved beneficial in another way as well.

“Because she had already built up some stability, she responded a lot quicker once we started the treatment again,” Dr. Behrue says. “So it wasn’t long after we started again that she completed her work on the MCU and was feeling much better.”

Resistance Training

Peggy was better but still not great. She was still experiencing lower back pain and leg weakness, enough to make it difficult to walk her dog. To help her with that issue, Dr. Behrue set her up for treatment on the Eccentron Negative Resistance Trainer.

“Though she had undergone back surgery, where they removed some bone to relieve pressure on the nerve, nobody ever taught Peggy how to get her back and legs strong again,” Dr. Behrue explains. “So, I put her on the Eccentron.

“The Eccentron looks like a leg press and a bicycle combined, and on that machine, you do eccentric exercises, which are what you do when you’re lowering a weight or going down during a push-up. Ultimately, the Eccentron measures how much weight you can resist.

“And just like the MCU machine, the Eccentron records results as the patient exercises. From those results, a treatment regimen appropriate for the patient is created. What’s really great about it is that it helps with the whole cadence, or walking mechanism.”

A typical workout on the Eccentron begins with a one-minute warm-up, followed by three minutes of exercise and a one-minute cool-down period. The exercise period increases as patients gain strength and make progress.

“The exercises on both machines seem a little hard at first, but after you’ve done them for a while, they get easier,” Peggy shares. “And then they add more weight. What I liked about both of them is that you can actually feel yourself get stronger.”

The drive from Peggy’s home to Active Health Center takes 35 minutes, but Peggy says those long drives were well worth it because the time she put in on the MCU and Eccentron have her feeling better than she has since she was a teenager.

“They really got me squared away,” Peggy says. “When I first started going to Active Health Center, those drives were very difficult. It hurt to drive for that long. But I haven’t felt any real pain in ages now.”

Seventy-Five-Foot Fall

Like Peggy, Ryan Spencer’s neck pain was the result of an accident that occurred during his youth. The only difference is that Ryan injured his neck while he was at play in college, whereas Peggy was at work.

Photo by Marc Edwards.

Ryan Spencer

“A bunch of us went out to this river one day, and there was this big tree that we would jump off of into the river,” Ryan explains. “Well, I climbed up to the very top, and as I was jumping off, my pants got caught on a twig or something, and I got spun around.

“I more or less fell out of the tree, and when I landed in the water some seventy-five feet down, I landed right on my neck. I was actually pretty lucky because I didn’t go to the hospital or anything. I rested for a couple weeks and eventually got back to normal.”

Normal didn’t last for long. Within a few months, Ryan began to experience nagging neck pain and stiffness. Then, about three years ago, he began to experience occasional flare-ups of pain and stiffness that made it all but impossible to move around normally.

“When I had a flare-up, it would usually be about ten days to two weeks where I couldn’t move my neck to look left or right,” Ryan, now 32, says. “I literally had to move my whole body to look left or right, which made it hard to do almost anything.

“I’ve always been active. I like to go boating; I go fishing, play basketball and go to the gym, but when I had those flare-ups, I couldn’t do those things. I was usually very limited and then it would subside. But anything could trigger a flare-up.”

Now the chairman of his family’s moving and storage company, Ryan was impacted by his neck pain at work as well. So much so that he eventually sought help from a chiropractor, who discovered the root of Ryan’s pain to be three bulging and three herniated discs.

“I’ve gotten a lot of relief from my time on the MCU machine, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is having neck pain of any kind.” – Ryan

“Once he discovered the problem, the chiropractor started doing some standard adjustments,” Ryan explains. “And I did get some relief from those adjustments. But they were just treating the symptoms. They really weren’t getting to the root of the problem.”

Ryan was wondering if anyone would ever get to the root of his problem when he met Forrest Harvey, DC, of Active Health Center at a business function and inquired about the treatments he provided for nagging and occasionally debilitating neck pain.

“He told me to come in and see him, and when I did, I told him all about my history, and he started doing some evaluations,” Ryan says. “One of the things he did was apply pressure to my head as I lowered my chin down to my chest.

“As soon as he did that, I immediately went into a spasm. What’s supposed to happen there, I guess, is that your neck muscles should just tire out before they spasm. But I immediately went into a spasm. That’s when he told me about the MCU machine.”

“A Different Approach”

Ryan’s first visit to Active Health Center was in July 2018. After his initial examination, Ryan was given a diagnostic test on the MCU machine that showed his neck muscles were very weak. It was then that Dr. Harvey recommended treatment on the MCU machine.

“The diagnostic test was very revealing because it showed where I was compared to people in the general population who have strong, healthy necks,” Ryan says. “It was after that that I started the regimen of going three times per week for work on the MCU.

Photo by Marc Edwards.

MCU therapy rid Ryan of his nagging neck pain.

“One of the things I really liked about it is that it was a different approach to managing neck pain. The whole idea is that it’s strengthening the neck muscles, and most of those muscles are muscles that you really didn’t use before.”

Ryan says he began to feel the effects the MCU machine had on him almost immediately. After two or three weeks of care, he was feeling less pain and stiffness, and over time, that pain and stiffness all but disappeared.

“When Ryan first came in, he was experiencing pain that was about a seven on a scale of one to ten and was having those incidents where his neck would just lock up on him,” Dr. Harvey relates. “Those incidents are gone, and his pain has been greatly reduced.

“This is a treatment that anyone in any age group can benefit from, and Ryan is a good example of that because his pain level is now about a two at its worst. And he’s no longer waking up with pain and stiffness in his neck.”

Ryan says the best result from his work on the MCU machine at Active Health Center is an improved quality of life.

“Because of the nature of the injury to my neck, I think I’ll always have a little bit of an aching in there,” he says. “But it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be. The pain level used to be about a six or seven, and it was constant. Now, it very tolerable.

“I’ve gotten a lot of relief from my time on the MCU machine, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is having neck pain of any kind. It’s really a different approach to repairing the problem. And I highly recommend Active Health Center as well.

“Everyone there is super nice. I chatted with them about all kinds of stuff, like Game of Thrones and stupid things like that. But when it came down to business, Dr. Harvey was always very professional and upfront with me, and I appreciated that.

“He always gives it to you straight and tells you just how it is, so again, I would definitely recommend them because they’re great people, great doctors and they’ve got a lot of different pieces of equipment and therapies that really help people.”

Peggy can attest to that.

“They’re all wonderful people,” she exudes. “And they treat you like you belong there, like you’re family. It’s a very friendly group, and I really enjoyed going there. To tell you the truth, I’m going to miss visiting them. That’s how great everyone is.”

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    • Active Health Center

      If you have aches and pains from a motor vehicle accident, an old injury or a slip and fall, or are just feeling pain from the trials of daily life, Dr. Marc Weinberg and Dr. Colin Behrue at Active Health Center at Weinberg Chiro... Read More

    • Marc A. Weinberg, DC

      Marc A. Weinberg, DC, completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida and went on to graduate cum laude from Life Chiropractic College in Marietta, GA. He is approved by the National University of Health Sciences to perfor... Read More

    • Colin O. Behrue, DC

      Colin O. Behrue, DC, completed his undergraduate studies in molecular/microbiology at the University of Central Florida and went on to receive his Doctorate of Chiropractic, cum laude, from Palmer Chiropractic College Florida in Port Orange. He... Read More

    • Forrest Harvey, DC

      Forrest Harvey, DC, completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Pennsylvania’s Westminster College before earning his Doctorate of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, Florida. He treats patients of all ... Read More

    • Adam Holleman, DPT

      Adam Holleman, DPT, earned his undergraduate degree in exercise science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, VA. He received his doctorate in physical therapy from Winston-Salem State University. He performed research in biomechan... Read More

    • Sandy McLean, DC

      Sandy McLean, DC, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Northwestern Health and Sciences University in 1998 and earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from the same school. She opened her first practice in Marquette, Michig... Read More