At my clinic, we had a vibrating table that would help relax the tissue in patients’ necks and lower backs. I decided to give that a try. Sure enough, it made the pain tolerable, but the effects didn’t last long.
My brother is also a chiropractor, and he’d been in a water skiing accident about two years before my incident. He recommended trying a Vibracussor (a soft tissue and fascia percussion tool), and we happened to have one buried in storage at the office.
This tool had a cylinder, about the size of a coke can, that would vibrate. I placed it under my right arm, but just like the table, it would only relieve the pain for a minute or two. I started using it almost all day long, because it was the only thing that took the pain away. Then I decided to try to press it harder to my body, and then the relief lasted for a few more minutes. But then it would come back with vengeance.
I realized the reason it helped relieve the pain was because of something called accommodation — where your body accommodates to a stimulus (whether it’s the temperature, noise, etc).
Then I wondered what if there was something that didn’t touch my body the whole time, but had a really high frequency — maybe that would offer more sustainable relief. I ended up building a prototype based on what I saw in my mind, by wrapping a towel around a jigsaw with electrical tape.
I started putting my weird contraption on my body, moving it up and down my arm, as it moved up and down rapidly. I experimented with it more and more — when the pain would start creeping back, I’d use the device on my body again.
I learned that pain travels to the brain to your pain centers at about 55 miles an hour. But when you put something on your skin—ice, heat, cold, vibration—that information travels to the brain 265 miles an hour. So what I was doing was overriding that stimulus—the pain signal didn’t reach my brain because the sensation of the tool was getting there faster.
I learned that that stimulus didn’t have to be on my neck, where my pain originated. It could be anywhere on my body — my right quad, my left arm, my shoulder — anywhere I put this thing it took the pain away, it was so powerfully relieving.