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Muscle tightness associated with cervical disc problems???

ButterflyPainBButterflyPain Posts: 290
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have cervical problems (below) , but I also have really bad tight muscles on my shoulders down to the ending of my shoulder blades. If the shoulder and below muscles get too tight it starts affecting the cervical nerves and head nerves and tortures me a lot with bad head pain. I get this one nerve pain on my head, that doesnt let go for the most part unless I take a muscle relaxer or have someone massage my shoulders. It is really terrible to wake up to or stay up with.

It seems anytime I sit down all the muscles will almost instantly tighten, even if they were loose for awhile from walking or sitting in a high back chair.

Klonopin, Soma work best, but sometimes those don't help, or help long enough...I just started neurontin and I believe it is helping with the top of the head nerve pain, but not the one that hurts me the most.

Is this normal?
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1

Comments

  • hmm. No! Your issues sound like how I feel now after my laminectomy 6/9/09. I can tell you that swimming helps relax the muscles some. I am on soma too and take that twice a day. damaged muscles take a long time to heal is what I am told.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • I just also want to say that when I'm walking and my muscles are loose , I still have a tight or stiff feeling neck and upper thorasic spine. I also wake up with that, and I have radioculpathy in my left arm and leg.

  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I have the same tight muscle problem you describe. I don't know which comes first, the tight muscles or the disc pain. When I sit down I feel like someone is pushing my head down between my shoulders. Sometimes it feels that way even walking. Oh yeah, the headaches! It never ends does it?? I have noticed the more my neck hurts the more tense I get and then the worse the headaches get! Is that the way you feel? I hope you have a better day today. Take care.
  • good grief - 10 weeks post-op & muscles are sooooo tight still!!!!!!!!!!!! makes you think "will I ever get better"
    sheesh...... didn't have a clue recovery would be this painful for so long... but it's better than the pain that led me to the surgery.. I am just not a patient person & have to continually remind myself that I have to chill....
    they cut 4" around C5-6 & C6-7 & grinded down the discs...
    hugs to all - Julie in Texas
  • Please, please, please get a remedial massage if you have any muscle problems (which we all have).
  • Oh I do know what you mean. You should feel the muscles on top between my neck and shoulders, they are hard as a rock like I work out every day! But I don't, of course. I also have areas in my back that you can feel these much smaller knots, about pea sized, and they do cause a lot of pain too. I hardly ever get headaches though, all my pain is in my neck and upper back out towards my shoulders.
  • If you have alot of money you can go to massage therapy everyday...

    Byt I dont have money for that so I cant...
  • JKDE302
    A daily relaxing massage is on the books for when I win the lottery!
    Massage costs about $1 a minute, and you'd expect to have a 30-40 minute session initially.
    You would not even consider a daily one at the remedial stage, as you need time inbetween.
    It is a bit costly, but if it is the only cure, just think how much it would be really worth to you.
    I'd suggest that you try at least one session with a remedial masseuse, and find out just what muscle problems you have.
    That alone is well worth knowing as you unravel your symptoms. A cure that doesn't require drugs or surgery. Why wouldn't you try it?

    I had a 60 minute session yesterday as I'd let it go too long, 4 weeks.
    I'm trying to get it to every 3 weeks or so, but am back to weekly again. Trying to save money but it backfired.

    Talking about knots, DonnaJay, I have a big hard lump between by left shoulder blade and the shoulder. Apparently it is a big mass of knotted muscle, as this muscle should not be evident, according to my masseuse.
    She uses pressure point relief to relax all of my knots, but it will take quite a while to get it all sorted.
    It will be a lot of expense but what else can I do?
    My stretching/ exercise regime will gradually build up the muscles which are all now weak and knotted.
    I'd be completely inactive without the massages, and even more brain dead.
  • Are most masseuses trained in remedial massage? Living in a very small town out in the sticks, there are only a couple of massage therapists in town. Going out of town wouldn't gain anything, as then would have to drive back, undoing all the good :D Do they do a whole body type massage, or just concentrate on neck, back, and shoulders? Any info appreciated.
  • i too have been suffering terribly with muscle problems since diagnosed with disc problems , i live in uk so probably different system , i am on long waiting list for physio so i have had 2 sessions with osteopath (once a week as £40 a session), i truelly believe it is helping , he first does gentle neck manipulation just like massage then i have very tense shoulders , arms and front of chest he does massage quite rough , next day bit sore then feel so much better for few days , take less painkillers !!. i never realised until he showed be my tense muscle knots now .
  • MaggieP said:
    Are most masseuses trained in remedial massage? Living in a very small town out in the sticks, there are only a couple of massage therapists in town. Going out of town wouldn't gain anything, as then would have to drive back, undoing all the good :D Do they do a whole body type massage, or just concentrate on neck, back, and shoulders? Any info appreciated.
    No, most probably aren't trained in remedial massage.
    The usual one is just the relaxation or feel good massage, which anyone can do with a little training, but it won't find and fix your problems.
    Look for one that offers sports massage, as that may be the same or similar under a different name.
    They would need to have attended a massage school and qualified.
    They will treat whatever you want done.
    I stick with shoulders and neck, but the last time she did a test and found my glutes weren't working, putting strain on my calves and lower back. But that is an exercise fix.
    A day after my Thursday massage my mood suddenly lifted and I felt bright and able to think. Finished up stripping the dishwasher and cleaning it.
    I realised then that I had the same result from other massages-they just lift the head and neck tension right away.
    That's when you feel so good that you overdo it, trying to catch up!

  • I am SUFFERING from the same symptoms that you describe only on the right side. And I am very sorry to hear that you share this pain because it is definitely something that I would not wish on anyone. The best relief that I have found is heat, heat and more heat. PT tried massage, heat and ultrasound which would help a little while they were doing it but it would come back with a vengeance by the time I made the 10 minute drive home! I hate my TENS unit so no help there. I finally gave in and let my PM do the cervical injections (I had horrible results with lumbar/caudal injections so I was very reluctant) and they brought instant relief after the very first injection! I had the complete series of 3 injections and went for a month without the awful headache! But gradually by the end of the second month I was right back where I started. I'm not a doctor and I would never think of telling anyone what to do, but for me personally it was well worth it and I will gladly do it again when the 6 months is up.
  • delta_dawn67 said:
    I am SUFFERING from the same symptoms that you describe only on the right side. And I am very sorry to hear that you share this pain because it is definitely something that I would not wish on anyone. The best relief that I have found is heat, heat and more heat. PT tried massage, heat and ultrasound which would help a little while they were doing it but it would come back with a vengeance by the time I made the 10 minute drive home! I hate my TENS unit so no help there. I finally gave in and let my PM do the cervical injections (I had horrible results with lumbar/caudal injections so I was very reluctant) and they brought instant relief after the very first injection! I had the complete series of 3 injections and went for a month without the awful headache! But gradually by the end of the second month I was right back where I started. I'm not a doctor and I would never think of telling anyone what to do, but for me personally it was well worth it and I will gladly do it again when the 6 months is up.
    aw sorry to hear you are going through this too! and not finding much relief. What I wouldn't give for one month relief. My dad said no to the epidural now. I'm gonna try PT again, but omg I'm in so much pain. Now my muscles are pinching (or at least it feels like pinching) my shoulder muscles, scalp, and just below my shoulders on my back. It is so bad. Sometimes Soma plus tylenol with codiene 3 gives me one to two hrs pain free, but I feel all drugged which isn't good. I can't believe this, I feel like bawling.

    Man, can you tell my dad that it helped you j/k:(
  • Tell your dad that it did help me, and it wasn't just a month.

    Steroids used to work best on me in the first few years. The first line was the medrol dosepak (prednisone) which you take for only 6 days. That gave me totally PAIN FREE relief for a year and a half. Once the pain crept back we did it again, and I got another PAIN FREE year out of it. But it didn't work the third time, I hear that it's like that. I don't know why but it does become less effective over time. Anyway, if you haven't tried that yet, ask your doctor if you would be a good candidate.

    Then we moved on to the epidurals. I also got a little over a year pain free with that, we tried it again, not pain free anymore, but the pain went down several notches to manageable for more than a year. It's only the last two years that my pain has been like a roller coaster and the past six months where it's totally out of control.
  • DonnaJay said:
    Tell your dad that it did help me, and it wasn't just a month.

    Steroids used to work best on me in the first few years. The first line was the medrol dosepak (prednisone) which you take for only 6 days. That gave me totally PAIN FREE relief for a year and a half. Once the pain crept back we did it again, and I got another PAIN FREE year out of it. But it didn't work the third time, I hear that it's like that. I don't know why but it does become less effective over time. Anyway, if you haven't tried that yet, ask your doctor if you would be a good candidate.

    Then we moved on to the epidurals. I also got a little over a year pain free with that, we tried it again, not pain free anymore, but the pain went down several notches to manageable for more than a year. It's only the last two years that my pain has been like a roller coaster and the past six months where it's totally out of control.
    Thanks so much for the info! I think he may let me do it, depending on how much it cost now.
    I am rather nervous about it, but if it is the only thing they can do , I think it could be good for me.
    I'm going to talk to my neurologist this week and make sure he thinks it totally will help.
    For some odd reason now my right shoulder feels pinched and started hurting three weeks ago and is now getting worse, and the pain is settling where the neck and shoulder meet, and up the right side. I can't lay on my left side without my shoulder feeling pinched. I wonder what this could be now. :(
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  • learning about trigger point therapy has really helped me reduce my pain. I have tennis balls everywhere now and won't leave home without one! As they say, it hurts so good!!
  • It's normal to have really tight muscles esp after herniating a disc. My therapist told me long ago that my hamstring muscles in my right leg which has permanent nerve damage is super tight. I also have trigger points in my lower back but I won't let anyone mess with them because they will bring on more pain and muscle spasms. I used to take Soma but I was switched to Zanaflex, and I can take up to 8mg 3x's daily for severe muscle spasms.
  • I have the same issues. I have congenital cervical stenosis w/3 bulging discs. At least that was what my MRI said over a yr ago. Since then things have gotten progressively worse for me. Anyway, I have constant muscle tightness. I'm on Soma, but they only help so much. I want to look into deep tissue massage or remedial massage here soon. I tried traction and had to stop cause I started getting TMJ. I can't do the ESI's cause I had a bad reaction to the Medrol pack. They won't do surgery on me cause I'm only 29 and they want to do a fushion, so my choices in treatment are extremely limited. The muscles are just overcompensating for a weak neck. I'd look into massage if you can.
  • I experience daily what you described, Butterfly. It's not just sitting for me but standing, as well. Though, sitting is worse.

    I've been cranking up my abdominal core strengthening exercises - because it honestly feels like I'm holding myself erect with my neck and shoulders. Neck & shoulders just can't take the stress from being upright!

    I quit neck PT strengthening exercises because of the left sided head and facial pain it caused. I deal with enough of THAT already. I stretch the muscles out but won't do more than that.

    Let me know if you figure it out.

    regards,
    jas
  • I am almost a year post-cervical/lumbar fusion and I am in pain from muscle tightness which gets so bad that my arms and legs get numb. I exercise and stretch regularly and nothing seems to help. Yes, massage helps but by the next day I am hurting again. I wish I could afford to get a 20 minute massage daily. With this economy, I can't afford any massages!!!

    Doc says my pain is from poor posture. I can't even get my shoulders to go into correct posture with such tight muscles. I am in daily pain with no medication. I can't take anything but over the counter meds because I have to drive my kids all over town every day.

    I thought by now I would be feeling totally normal. I am getting very frustrated with my life style. I cannot make it through a whole day without having to lay down to get the pressure off my spine.

    We can no longer go anywhere more that an hour away as a family because it creates too much pain for me. So forget family vacation of any sort!!! I have not been able to join my family for vacation since this accident years ago!

    I am so frustrated!!!!!
  • CRASH21, it's a bit of a puzzle, isn't it?
    You need to do something to alleviate something else, but doing it causes other problems.
    As they say, as one door closes another slams in your face!
    I've had great success with massage, feeling so much better for a few days and my pain med usage drops by 70-80%.
    From 8 or so a day to 2 or 3.
    Of course I feel so good i immediately over do it and cancel out the massage benefits.
    I've been doing light stretches and exercises for general toning and to strengthen my shoulder muscles, the ones that give me awful headaches.
    But I've found that some of these, the ones I need the most, are causing new problems with my arm and shoulder.
    I'll have to leave off for a few days.
    So annoying when you get so unfit from avoiding pain, that the recovery treatment causes other problems.
    How do you to get on top of it all?
    Where do you start?
    So very frustrating.
    Everyone has a different opinion and advice to offer. You have to make an appointment so far ahead that you are in a different condition when you get there.
    You really need a personal trainer.
    As if.
    I think I'm probably going in a bit too soon, and should let the massage treatment have time to work. It seems that my muscles in the back are such a mess that any exercising is going to have a poor result.
    At least I have the massage, which I know works for me. Recovery will be a much slower and lengthy period that I and the medicos thought. They said 2-3 months. Looks like 6-12 to me.
  • Apparently, chronic neck pain due to increased muscle tension and spasm is only part of the problem. Usually a muscle issue will settle down in a short period of time. So if the problem continues over 3 + months --more likely the primary problem is due to a disc(s) facet joint etc problem or other underlying structural problem deeper within and past the muscle issue. Unfortunately even most doctors don't understand this. So a massage and meds will only take us so far.Our muscles are in pain because they are working too hard to support our heads and protect the underlying structures that are injured.

    If we have a structural problem in one area of the vertebra (disc, face t joint) due to poor posture for example often eventually the integrity of other parts of the vertebra will breakdown because we continue our poor posture and overuse say at a computer. So if we continue to use poor posture etc the various passive therapies we use will either need to be increased or we decide they are not working any longer. Dr Schoffereman uses the analogy of a three legged chair where one of the legs becomes broken and the other legs eventually give out and all along we wobble off centered --that is if we continue to use the chair! So the massage therapy is ikely not going to make up for the damages in the long haul unless it allows us to strengthen appropriately.

    reference: "What to do about a pain in the neck: The Complete Program for NEck Pain Relief" by Jerome Schofferman, MD
  • bridgie said:
    Apparently, chronic neck pain due to increased muscle tension and spasm is only part of the problem. Usually a muscle issue will settle down in a short period of time. So if the problem continues over 3 + months --more likely the primary problem is due to a disc(s) facet joint etc problem or other underlying structural problem deeper within and past the muscle issue. Unfortunately even most doctors don't understand this. So a massage and meds will only take us so far.Our muscles are in pain because they are working too hard to support our heads and protect the underlying structures that are injured.

    If we have a structural problem in one area of the vertebra (disc, face t joint) due to poor posture for example often eventually the integrity of other parts of the vertebra So the massage therapy is not going to make up for the damages in the long haul unless it allows us to strengthen appropriately.

    Well, funny you should say that, as I am in that exact situation, although I feel that there can be many instances when muscles alone are the problem.
    While massage has been easing the muscle knots, the stretching and exercise routine seems to have aggravated them.
    In my case this leads to my neck muscles then being drawn down, resulting in awful headaches.
    Stretches, exercise and massage were prescribed to cure me.

    I found a hard swelling in my left shoulder, so had it looked at by ultra sound today. Just the scapula, but it is a different shape to the other and the shoulder is a bit higher. Took x-rays to see if there is a bony growth.

    Something is upsetting these shoulder muscles, as you suggest, and massage will not cure it.
    Another instance of where you have to take charge of your medical process, not just leave it to others.
  • I read all the comments.

    I'm sorry we all have to go through this.
    I can't decide if my problems stem from poor posture or if they are just in a never ending cycle because of poor posture or whatever.

    All I know is that it hurts chronically and that isn't fun at all.
  • Peter from what I've read and what I've experienced (exercise flaring up muscles we are trying to strengthen) we have to keep trying to strengthen the muscles that support our neck and head. Probably work with someone like a trainer or PT that recogizes the exercises that seem to flare us and then modify these exercises. But before we can start back up or try the modified exercises, we need to deal w/the flare. According to Dr Schofferman, ("What To Do With a Pain in the Neck: The Complete Program for Neck Pain Relief") we can perform his "neck first aide" which is very simple stretches, good posture, ice, lying on the floor every two hours w/a towel under the neck so the neck is in a neutralizing position, and other maneuvers and therapies. The whole idea behind "neck first aide" is to neutralize the neck. Anyway, I believe once the "flare" has been neutralized, its once again time to work towards strengthening. He has his own exercise suggestions in this book as well. So its not necessary to go to an expensive gym or be in PT to try to strengthen and work on better posture.I found his suggestion to keep the chin parallel to the floor, turn the whole body if possible when looking around, and use the upper part of the neck to look down---like a hinge, very helpful reminders.

    I very much appreciate how difficult this delicate balance is between managing a flare and working on posture and strengthening whether we have surgry or not. It does seem sometimes either ourselves or the various professionals we're working with try to overly simplify the problem. For example, I recenty began attempting to work out at a Pilates studio. The trainer has convinced himself spine problems are related to muscles most the time. His logic being we have 600 some muscles and only 200 some bones in our bodies. Personally I think he's over simplified to benefit his business model. He's a so-called naturalpathic doctor so I guess I'm suppose to trust him! Anyway, we have to recognize ourselves that if we have a chronic problem its likely going to improve with a combination of passive and active therapies. I feel our job is to figure out which combination works for ourselves. Plus we have to recognize the cognitive errors in logic that run rampant and then question the logic or the overly simplification of the truth behind our pain problems.
  • Some people age better than others. 7 out of 10 people suffer from degenerative disks. Some young, some old. Some earlier, some later, in life. Then there are some that have suffered due to an injury. This is not uncommon & not any fun indeed, but find a doctor that you like & feel comfortable with. There are tons out there.
  • Zack said:
    Some people age better than others. 7 out of 10 people suffer from degenerative disks. Some young, some old. Some earlier, some later, in life. Then there are some that have suffered due to an injury. This is not uncommon & not any fun indeed, but find a doctor that you like & feel comfortable with. There are tons out there.
    Those are sad stats. I hope most people don't get pain from it.
  • bridgie-WOW.
    Nicely expressed and I fully agree.
    With a flare, NOTHING gets done!

    I think my physio has 'dumbed down' my treatment so I won't be discouraged from following it.
    That may be a technique that works with most patients-who knows?
    He was very excited about his ability to cure me but spoke so much he didn't leave enough time to show me all of the stretches and exercises.
    They are all quite simple and I've done most before, but even so it should have been done.
    Having been on it for 3 months now I have enough ammo to be able to see him and discuss it all in much more detail.

    I know that I have to get muscle tone and strength back or the battle is lost.
  • well, I just wanted to say I have had tight muscles since about 1996, when i noticed that anyone who massaged me gave me relief, and that would last for a good 3 days or more. in 1999 a car accident, I also worked in retail all my life. in 2002 things got real bad, massages lasted only a couple hours, tried everything you all listed above. had surgery in 2008, 7 months ago. c4-6 fused, acdf, pain was horrible when i woke up. Had spasms all over my back. everyone had to press on my back in the recovery room. I cannot take pain killers or muscle relaxers, as the pain killers make me hyper, and muscle relaxers give me headaches believe it or not. anyway, I am back to severe headaches, muscles knots severe, that spread to the back of my shoulders where the armpits meet, it is so bad. botox injections work if the hit the correct spots. i love trigger point injections, if they hit the correct spots also, but they don't want to give me them hardly anymore because I have had so much cortisone put in my body. and I am addicted to those needles to break those stupid little worm like knots, that is all that works for me. If i did not have a man in my life who presses these knots daily for me I could not survive, before he came into my life, I was hospitalized for severe depression from this, because I could not take the pain or live, because I was unable to press on the knots myself, it has been horrible. I know I am stuck with this for life now. surgery did not work, and that was my last hope
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