T Nation

Chronic Neck Strains/Spasms


#1

Me again. I've avoided posting this here because I already know the initial answer to my questions: I need to see a doctor about this. But, I've dealt with some gems with an MD tag, and as the title suggests, this has happened before. I went to the ER after being laid up for 48 hours. "It's just strained. Ice it. That'll be $175" Perhaps it is just strained, but I'm looking for this to not happen again.

Anyways, about the actual issue. It always happens during physical activity. First time was in wrestling practice in high school. I don't recall exactly what we were doing. Second time was in a match, I was severely dehydrated and no food, and absolutely gassed, etc, and I dismissed it as such. Next time it happened I was doing reverse DB flies. Not much direct stress on the neck, really. Some, yes. Enough to cause a strain, without an underlying cause? I dunno. Anywho, 3 days ago was the most recent, I was doing weight pull-ups. I've been doing some crazy back work the last 3 weeks, so perhaps my upper trapezius was fried and that started it all, I dunno.

To describe how this injury actually happens: It starts simply to feel a little tight. This feeling anywhere else in my body would cause me to think I just didn't stretch or warm up enough, that level of... discomfort, I guess. With my neck, I know it means trouble. If I try to stretch it, it will lock up on the spot, extremely painfully. If I drop what I am doing, I will have almost enough time to get to my car and drive home before it is completely locked up. By locked up, I mean I cannot move it a quarter inch in any direction without great pain. This lasts right around 48 hours.

2 days laying in bed.

I've been doing my own research on the internet, cuz I have nothing but time. Most of that time is trying to sort through the utter crap that's out there for any kind of medical information. But what I've came up with, is it's not just a strain. I've had strains, and the pain is localized. It is tender to the touch. (My neck is not tender anywhere, and has a constant pain in basically all the muscles). I also don't think it's just a spasm/cramp, because of the 6 times that this has happened, I've tried a few times to fight through the pain and stretch it out. All this does is adds to that 48 hours.

So, what I'm pretty sure is happening, is my body preventing more damage, by spasming, in reaction to another spasm, or a strain. Regardless, I'm convinced it's not "just a strain" and I'm convinced there is an underlying problem here. (Thoracic/Cervical spine issue, muscle imbalance, etc)

My question is, who do I talk to about this? What questions do I need to ask? I'm not about to spend a couple hundred to be told to ice it again.

Thanks for reading if you got this far haha


#2

Going to the ER was probably your first mistake, unless your goal was to just get imaging done or to get on some muscle relaxers, pain killers, or prescription anti-inflammatories. Most ER docs have very limited orthopedic knowledge beyond what would be found from significant blunt trauma (ie auto accident, falling from height, etc). From the descriptions you've described, you should find yourself a good orthopedic physician, best case would be one with a speciality within the spine.

While at the ER, did you get any imaging diagnostics done? Xray? MRI? CT Scan?


#3

Yeah going to the ER was an act of frustration, being unable to move much at all for 2 days is pretty damn irritating.

I think the biggest factor for not having any imaging done was the fact that I have no health insurance. The doc basically said I have a neck strain, put some ice on it, and that's it. I pushed for more, and got "Would you like me to refer you to a neck specialist?" Which I (and he) knew I couldn't afford.

I did get some imaging done the second time this happened, as it was on the mat during the section championships and I was under sport specific insurance. Only thing I remember from that is I have a slight "Gooseneck". They showed it to me, but I don't really recall exactly what that looks like, or what it means.

Also my access to better healthcare in general has improved since then. I could fill a few thread with horror stories about how bad the doctors are from my hometown. I have since moved to Rochester MN, home to one of the best clinics in the world. Financially I am ready to bite the bullet as well.