The Theracane – How I ended 15 years of chronic pain

I suffered from chronic neck pain for 15 years. I tried everything, including physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and going to a chiropractor. I bought therapeutic pillows and even a new memory foam bed. Eventually I resigned to living with my pain, and thought I’d be rushing to the ibuprofen bottle first thing every morning for the rest of my life. At the end of a physical therapy session one day, my therapist had an idea. She showed me a Theracane and told me to buy one online. I literally haven’t been to physical therapy since!

the theracane

I followed my physical therapist’s advice and ordered a Theracane, which allowed me to perform “trigger point therapy” on myself. To learn how I also bought “The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook” by Clair Davies (Update: I’ve reviewed the book here). The key to how trigger point therapy works is the concept of “referred pain”.

Trigger points are basically knots in a muscle. What most people don’t realize is that these knots can cause pain in other areas that are far away from where the knot is located. For example, if you had a trigger point in the middle of your forearm, it could cause pain in your elbow or your wrist. That’s referred pain. You could massage your elbow or wrist all day, and you wouldn’t be affecting the source of the pain (the knot in your forearm).

The way trigger point therapy works is that you massage directly on the trigger points. Trigger points are easy to find since they hurt like crazy. When you’re massaging a muscle and find a sore spot, that’s a trigger point. The Workbook is basically a map of all the muscles in your entire body. It shows the trigger points in each muscle, and connects them to where they refer pain.

A pain in the neck – literally

In my case, the pain in my neck was caused by trigger points in my shoulder-blade. For years, all the various treatments I tried were focused on my neck, since that’s where the pain was. But that isn’t where the problem was. The following diagram from the Workbook shows my case exactly:

trigger points causing neck pain

The illustration on the left shows the muscle. The three dots are the trigger points. The illustration on the right shows the referred pain, which are the shaded areas. The shaded area at the base of the skull is exactly where I had my pain. Since my trigger points were in my shoulder, I couldn’t reach them to work on them. That’s where the Theracane came in.

The Theracane hurts so good

Using the Theracane, I was able to reach those troublesome trigger points. When I first started working on them they were super painful. But it’s that kind of pain that weirdly feels sort of good. It definitely felt like I was releasing tension. Something was happening.

After working on my back for just a few days, the pain in my neck started to decrease. At this early stage I was using the Theracane several times a day. I was so happy that I finally had a way to relieve my pain that I actually got a second Theracane to keep near my desk at work.

As I continued to work on my back over the following weeks, I started to have whole days without pain. Anyone who’s experienced chronic pain knows what a big deal that is. After a few more months, I started to notice that days without pain turned into weeks without pain. Eventually days with pain became a rarity!

The new normal

As the pain decreased, I used the Theracane less and less often. Now I’m at the stage where I try to use the Theracane a few times a week for prevention. It’s easy to do when watching TV, or similar passive activities. But if I do feel pain coming on, after a few minutes with the Theracane it’s gone. I’m finally able to control the pain without drugs! Truly amazing.

Using the Theracane is pretty easy, it is definitely not rocket science. Basically you just need to learn how to leverage it to get at your trigger points. The Workbook has great diagrams which help you do this. After a short learning curve it’s really easy to use.

The Theracane is sort of like a giant candy cane with handles (as you can see in the picture above). It’s about 2 feet long and 15 inches wide. It’s made of green plastic which is smooth and easy to handle. It’s also super sturdy. I’m a pretty strong guy and I’ve put it to the test. The Theracane can definitely take it.

The cost of pain

Over the 15 years I had chronic pain, I literally spent thousands of dollars on all the treatments I mentioned. A single physical therapy appointment used to cost me $135, and that’s after my health care coverage’s contribution. I shudder to think what the total amount I spent was if I added it all up. I’m quite sure I spent more money on my neck than I did on my car.

Now after a one time expenditure totaling around $50 for both the Theracane and The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, I can treat myself at home any time I want. The Theracane has literally changed my life. If you have chronic pain in your joints, muscles, etc, I can’t recommend getting a Theracane strongly enough.

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About Ayal

Ayal has been obsessively learning about nutrition ever since he realized that you actually are what you eat. He has also started practicing yoga, which caused him to wonder why no one ever told him there was a body attached to his head. Ayal has a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University, as well as a Masters Degree in Science from M.I.T.

7 thoughts on “The Theracane – How I ended 15 years of chronic pain

  1. Pingback: Trigger Point Therapy Workbook review -

  2. Hi, after being in pain for 5 weeks, yesterday I began to use a Thera Cane on my shoulders/thoracic area and found trigger points. It hurt but also felt good. I felt much better a few hours later. But the next morning (today) I woke up in a world of pain. Is this normal? Are the trigger points that I worked on just super sore? Will the pain subside soon? How often should I do trigger point work with the Thera Cane?? Thanks.

    • Hi Phil- Actually it is quite common to be sore for a few days after doing deep work on trigger points (probably especially if you’re brand new to it and might go a little on the hard side not knowing that you might end up sore for a bit). The soreness should go away after a few days. When the pain has subsided, I’d recommend starting up again but pacing yourself this time. Once you’ve eased into a routine your body will let you know what type of rhythm to keep. When my back acts up I often work on it numerous times a day, but short sessions and always taking care not to beat myself up too much. Hope that helps, and hope the Thera Cane brings you as much relief as it brought me!

      • Thanks, Ayal. I’m feeling MUCH better today.
        I had no idea my injury was fascial but after being in mild to moderate pain for a month, I thought I’d give anything a try so I used Theracane.
        Doctor & Chiro thought I had a rib subluxation (dislocation). I see now it’s clearly a muscle/fascial issue around the mid trap & rhomboid area.
        I have booked an app’t w/ a fascial massage therapist in 2 days. Looking forward to more fascial treatments. I wonder how long it will be until I am 100%?? I expect it might take a while as my trap and rhomboid has been super tight for a whole month… any ideas on how long it will take to recover?

          • It certainly does for me, in fact any kind of motion/activity seems to. The more intense the therapy, the more I want to get the muscles moving again as quickly as possible, and in my case since it’s my thigh/hip, walking it off really helps.

        • Glad to hear you’re feeling better, and especially that you’re figuring out what your problem REALLY is. That’s also great that you’ve found someone who can help you with fascial massage in your area. I have a problem in my thigh/hip that I unable to resolve with my theracane. Fortunately there is an RN very near my location who specializes in fascial treatment, in particular with dry needling. It is absolutely remarkable, I recommend it if you can find someone in your area. It took a few months to improve, but it was a chronic condition that had been building for literally close to two decades. Hopefully yours is not as serious, and generally I think recovery is more like weeks than months. Would love to hear more about your experience when you’ve gone through it!

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