Pain Eraser

Unique therapy nullifies debilitating neck, shoulder and back pain.

When driving through Palm Beach Gardens, it’s easy to spot Cathy Mitchell’s house. It’s the one with all the sunflowers rising up from the beautifully landscaped and manicured front lawn that is Cathy’s pride and joy.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Cathy Mitchell

“My sunflowers range in size from six inches to several feet high,” Cathy gushes. “But it’s not just sunflowers that I have. I have all kinds of flowers. I have zinnias, marigolds and impatiens. I have lavender plants, hibiscus and palm trees.

“It’s a beautiful yard, and I’m always getting compliments from people who drive by, or walk by with their dogs. I also love to take some of my flowers and make bouquets out of them for people. I really love to garden and share with others what I’ve grown.”

Cathy’s garden is the result of years of dedication and toil, much of which was performed under duress while she fought neck and shoulder pain stemming from the injuries she sustained in a series of car accidents, the last of which occurred in 2013.

Those injuries forced Cathy to undergo triple neck-fusion surgery in 2015, but Cathy, now 56, only reaped the benefits of her surgery for about two years before her discomfort returned and eventually intensified.

“At its worst, I felt like my whole body was just falling apart on me,” Cathy laments. “I was having a lot of trouble raising my arms, and by the end of the morning every day, my back was always hurting.

“I couldn’t turn my head to the left, and I was getting severe migraines, which were keeping me from going to work. The migraines were so bad that when I got one, I had to be in complete darkness and not see or talk to anybody.

“My neck hurt so bad that at times, I couldn’t even look up, like to see the stars or the moon. The pain even went into my back and hip. Sleeping became a problem for me, too. I was going for days without sleep.”

Cathy suffered through her pain for more than a year. It wasn’t until this past spring, after her pain intensified following a bad fall at home, that she finally relented and sought medical help.

On the advice of her brother, who had found relief for his own neck pain at the North Palm Beach practice, Cathy sought that help from Active Health Center, where she soon found herself in the care of Colin O. Behrue, DC.

“Cathy thought that after she had the neck-fusion surgery, a lot of her pain would go away,” Dr. Behrue says. “But since having that surgery, her pain had only gotten worse. She had pain and burning in her shoulders and ribs and in her collarbone on one side.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

MCU therapy has allowed Cathy to return to her garden and resume her active lifestyle.

“She also became a fall risk because her legs were getting weak as well. So we looked back at all her old x-rays and took some new ones and really honed in on what happened with the surgery and why it was that she was still in pain.

“What we found was that, before doing anything conservative, the surgeons just did the fusion surgery. What happens when you do that is all the muscles around those fused joints suddenly shut down because those joints don’t know how to work anymore.

“And because those joints are no longer working, the rest of the joints in the neck have to compensate for that. So she had just four joints doing the job of seven, and that put added pressure and stress on those four joints, which caused her increased pain.

“Obviously, those four joints were not designed to do the work of seven, so what we had to do treatment-wise was isolate those joints, rebuild the neck and retrain those joints so that they could handle the extra work. We did that using the MCU machine.”

MCU file photo.

The MCU machine provided both women with lasting relief.

Unique, Nonsurgical Device

The MCU, or Multi-Cervical Unit, is a unique, nonsurgical device that not only isolates and strengthens the muscles around the neck but provides a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s physical progress while the patient is receiving the therapy.

A tool 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.

Once that data is revealed, a customized treatment program is designed that allows the MCU to correct the problems. Widely considered the most complete and efficient system for assessment and rehabilitation of the neck, the MCU has also 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.

A single MCU session lasts between 20 and 30 minutes, with patients typically going through three sessions a week for nine weeks. During those nine weeks, patients are re-tested at least three times to determine the effectiveness of the treatments.

“We re-test the patient every three weeks, or nine visits, and compare the results of those tests with the results we received from our original examination of the patient,” Dr. Behrue explains.

“That shows us how well the patient is progressing and based on the findings, we make clinical changes. The change could be different exercises, different angles or different weights that help the patient continue to improve and build strength.”

After nine weeks of therapy, patients are typically given a maintenance program that includes exercises they do at home to maintain their strength. Cathy is in the maintenance program now, and thanks to the MCU machine, she’s back to normal.

Back to Normal

“When I first went into Dr. Behrue’s office, I could barely move,” Cathy recalls. “I couldn’t lift a gallon of milk or even hold a cup of coffee in my right hand, and I couldn’t sit for long periods of time because my leg would go numb.

“I couldn’t walk or stand for very long either, which meant I couldn’t go walking on the beach, which is something I love to do. I couldn’t drive for long periods either, so it was hard for me to go the grocery store and things like that.

“I have a stack of business cards from Active Health Center, and I hand them out everywhere I go.” – Cathy

“But that MCU machine is amazing, and it changed everything for me. Now, the migraines are gone, I can walk on the beach again, and I’m even riding my bike again, which is something I hadn’t done in years.

“And when I walk, I often needed to realign myself and take these little baby steps when I started, but now, I can get up and walk like normal again, which is great. And I’m gardening again because I can finally move my arms and lift a shovel.

“I’m exercising, too. I was actually gaining some weight before because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even walk my dog, but now, I’m back doing those things, and I feel so much better. It’s like I’m finally back to normal again.”

Active and Strong

Even at the age of 75, Judi Johannsen’s weekly, normal routine includes playing a few rounds of golf, participating in a couple of spin classes, doing Pilates and working out with a personal trainer.

Judi’s photo courtesy of Judi Johannsen.

Judi Johannsen

“I stay pretty active,” says Judi, a former business manager who has maintained her active lifestyle through a decades-long battle with neck pain, the genesis of which remains a mystery to her.

“I have no idea how it started,” Judi confirms. “I once even asked my ex-husband if he could remember anything happening to me in the past thirty or forty years that might have triggered this, but he said, No, nothing.

“However, according to the doctors I saw, something traumatic must have happened, because I had disc issues, bone spurs and some arthritis in my neck, and it was always merely there until early last year, when all of a sudden, I couldn’t lift my head off my pillow.

“I literally had no strength in my neck and very little range of motion. And the pain was constant. It was so bad that I could barely move my head a quarter of the way around without it hurting, and driving became a real problem. I was very cautious about that.”

The restrictions the pain placed on Judi prompted her to seek medical attention. When two neurosurgeons suggested she needed surgery to repair the problem and a third said surgery would do her no good, she opted for a different treatment method.

“I tried acupuncture, cupping therapy and even cervical nerve block injections, but none of that helped,” Judi laments. “Then a friend of mine who had actually been there and tried the therapy told me about Active Health Center and the MCU machine.”

“Absolutely Amazing”

Mostly because she found no relief through the other therapies she’d tried, Judi was a bit leery of trying the MCU machine. But after hearing Dr. Behrue’s explanation of how it worked and what it was designed to do, she agreed to give it a try.

“When I looked at the machine, I thought it looked kind of weird, and I even took some pictures of myself on it and sent them to my friends,” Judi admits. “But I have to say, the results were absolutely amazing.

“After about three sessions, the strength came back in my neck, and my range of motion was almost normal. I had only a little bit of restriction after that – not much at all, really – and I just kept getting better and better.

“I was a little concerned that after I completed the treatment, I would go back to the way I was and have to go through another process like this again, but Dr. Behrue said, No, this should be it for you.

“It’s a great practice, and everyone there is amazing. I would literally stand on a corner and wave flags for them.” – Judi

“He was right. Now, I’m back doing Pilates again and going to the gym. And I’m playing golf again as well. I recently joined a ladies nine-hole group to get back into it, and at first, I was a little concerned. But Dr. Behrue said, No, go ahead and play; you have no restrictions.

“So needless to say, I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled with the results of the MCU therapy, and I couldn’t be happier with Dr. Behrue and Active Health Center. It’s a great practice, and everyone there is amazing. I would literally stand on a corner and wave flags for them.”

Cathy’s praise for the practice echoes Judi’s. She adds that she received a great education from Dr. Behrue regarding the anatomy of the neck that made it easier for her to understand why her surgery didn’t work and why another would not have worked either.

“All the nerves and everything that start at your neck go all the way down your back, and because of that, the MCU therapy helped my back as well as my neck,” Cathy says. “Now, I just need to get adjusted every once in a while, and I feel great.

“That’s why I have a stack of business cards from Active Health Center, and I hand them out everywhere I go. Anytime I meet up with someone who has neck or back problems and they tell me their story, I tell them mine and I tell them, Go to Active Health Center.

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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