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Anyone have a PT stretch your neck post op

gethealthyggethealthy Posts: 303
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Wanted to know if anyone had a PT stretch your neck post ACDF. My surgeon suggested a PT and he had me lay on my back with my head in his hands while he moved my head in various angles.

I hated it and he hurt me once so I quit but he said it's standard practice. He said he's done 100's of patients post ACDF and this is the best way to increase ROM. He said he can move my neck further than I can. He called it "getting the rust out".

Maybe it's just me but I would rather go slow and just do neck exercises. I could be wrong though so I was hoping for some feedback. A couple of people have told me their PT's wouldn't touch their necks.

I'm confused. I want to go to another PT but want to be able to set a "don't touch my neck" rule. This other PT said it's just how he does it and he needs to be able to do his job. My neck is really stiff so maybe he was right and I'm a big baby.


  • I am going to PT for my neck after a laminectomy. I had the fusion a few years before. The therapist tried to stretch my neck once and i yelled out what are you doing? She said it was a gentle stretch and then I asked my doctor about it and he said absolutely not. It was something a chiropractor would do like the traction thing. So I reported her to her supervisor. I told her what she did and the supervisor agreed with my history that is one thing that would never be done to my neck. I agree with you that it didn't feel good and it scared me also. The next time I seen her I said your not to do any stretches to my neck your not a doctor and only my surgeon will touch my neck. Then I said unless you have instructions to do these stretches you shouldn't do them. I just had 36,000 dollars of surgery that you could of damaged. Now I am in deep tissue massage therapy and all I get are massages and they are helping.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • You tell that PT that you like your rust right where it is, thanks! A PT can't feel what you're feeling, and can easily go to far with a stretch like that. If you need stretches they should be ones that you do yourself, so you can work up to it, instead of just yanking you around. Did he measure your ROM before he started this?

    I've been through years of PT due to carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, trigger finger, etc. I have been to good ones and bad ones, and the bad ones always go just a tad bit further than they should. Don't let a PT do anything you feel uncomfortable with. If you're afraid it's going to hurt you too much, or that it may damage you, a good PT will back off and not force the issue. If they persist, ask for their supervisor, as they may hurt you or someone else in their enthusiasm to "help".
  • He did measure my ROM and it was very bad. Due to my limited insurance he wanted to focus on my ROM. I'm a fitness specialist so he felt teaching me lots of exercises would me a waste of my insurance.

    I canceled my appointments after the 5th time because he over stretched my neck and I was in pain. I wanted to take time off to figure things out and heal.

    He pressured me into coming in to check if I was OK. I went and told him I did not want to be stretched but he tried to at the end of the appointment. I wouldn't let him.

    He said the doctor would not want me to stop my treatments and that I needed to let him do his job. He scared me into coming back.

    His assistant was much gentler so I let him stretch my neck a few appointments because the PT said I would become one of "those people" if I did not let him do this. He meant the people who turn with their full bodies.

    He said my other discs would be compromised if I did not allow him to loosen my neck. He scared me into allowing him to do something I did not want.

    I called my doctor's office and they said he's really good but if I'm uncomfortable quit so I did.

    I feel really stupid. I hate being bullied into doing something I don't want to do. The massage and the machine felt good and I was taught some good things about posture.

    My husband does not want to pay for any of the appointments after he hurt me and I wanted to take time off. He wants me to talk to the PT and tell him that if he charges us we will put a complaint into the supervisor and to our insurance company.

    I was bullied into staying and my husband is mad. It's easy to scare me now. I want to get better and I'm not trained in post op care of a ACDF so I'm vulnerable and the PT should have let me set limits. He demanded to "do his job" instead.

    This is tough because I liked the PT. He is pushy but very nice too. I hate getting in someones face but it seems he needs to learn to listen to his clients and bring their doctors into the situation if need be.

    When I think back I can see things far more clearly. If I were the PT and my client truly needed to be stretched I would contact the doctor for support and guidance.

    Thank you all for helping me with this. I hate being the bad guy but sounds like I should not have been put through this.
  • I called the doctor's office today and am waiting for a call to see if I need to get an xray to make sure I was not hurt by the PT.

    i told the nurse that the did neck stretching but a better term may have been manipulation. She asked if he twisted my neck because fused necks should not be twisted she did say. I said YES!

    I'm not sure how much she understood of the conversation. Phone calls are tough. Even talking in person can be confusing. I like writing stuff so even if it's mis read it's there to reference. The he said she said is gone.

    I wrote a letter to the doctor just incase they say not to get the xray so it's charted that I said something incase there is something wrong and they choose to not address it.

    I don't think there is a problem but I'm not positive so I've learned the hard way to cover my self in writing!

    I contacted my PT's billing department to let them know what's going on. He charged me for some things that weren't done and after talking with my husband feel that since I was hurt and the PT all but demanded to see me and treat the pain he caused our company should not foot the bill.

    I don't know how that will pan out but at least many will see that he pushed me into doing things I did not want to do and if they should not be done others will not be hurt by him.

    When you're in pain and your doctor sends you to a PT you tend to think they know what they're doing and all should have the right to say NO! He took that from me and that's just wrong especially to someone who is sooo vulnerable. He could paralyze me.

    It's tough because he is not mean just pushy and over sure of himself. He knows what's right, is the expert and needs to do his job in his mind. You're just the patient and don't know what's best. I was getting in his way is what I think he felt.

    Oh the experiences life brings us. I always say learn from others mistakes instead of making your own. I hope someone is braver than I was and does what I should have done on day one CALLED MY DOCTOR to see if what was happening was okay and MAKE the doctor understand by putting what was going on in writing!

    I feel pretty stupid right now. I should have listened to my instincts but I didn't want to step on toes so now I have my full foot in my mouth.

    I just pray I wasn't injured and this is just another one of life's lessons for me uuuuuuuGGGGGG!
  • Woke up crying so my husband made me call the doctor to get my neck looked at. I called in tears so I was sent right out to get xrays.

    Not good! My plate has never been x rayed from the front so I don't know if the manipulation caused this but my plate is crooked. It leans way to the left. It goes from 10:30 to 4:30 instead of 12:00 to 6:00.

    My surgeon got me right in. I got a cat scan and will go back in tomorrow to see what's up.

    The xray doctor said he thought it was that way originally. He doubts a PT could do that. My neck is straight just not the plate.

    The surgeon said it may need to be removed! I do NOT want to go through that. English is not his first language so it can be tough to communicate with him but I think he said I was fusing well. He called it healing and then said see the upper spaces? The spaces we did are filling in.

    I hope I can just leave the plate like that and go about life never letting anyone touch my neck again. I do have a little trouble swallowing and it gets tight when I cry but other than that it doesn't seem to cause problems unless some big 6 foot 4 inch muscle bound man tries to stretch it! I'm only 100pounds and very petite so my neck can't take mr muscle man that's for sure!

    uuuuugggg and the story goes on. Can't wait to be fused and going about life a little stiff but happy.
  • Sorry you had to go through that ordeal. Just makes me want to cry for you. I know you don't ever want another thing done to your neck, heck I don't even want anyone to so much look at mine. But I have heard some people have the hardware removed after a year or so, after fusion, and they say there's nothing to it - quick & simple. So if you do have to get it removed or straightened up, it's not going to be that bad. You are only 3 mos post op!!! I know it seems like forever because that is 180 days of constant pain, and there's going to be more of it for awhile. I know how tough it is to wake up each day & live all day in some sort of pain. Cervical & lumbar surgeries are the most painful post ops. It won't last 4ever! Keep that pretty chin in line & posture in tact meanwhile!!!
    Love ya sweetie - pls let me know asap as to what the deal is with ya!
  • I hated to do it but I filed a formal complaint against my PT.

    Turns out my plate was angled such that one of the screws is close to my main artery. They thought they'd have to take out the plate but I'm fusing so well my risks of problems with the screw are very low.

    The PT didn't cause the plate to move but having the screw so close to my main artery could be risky for having your head twisted. It hurt when he twisted my head to the left. I can't help but think it's because my plate is angled way to the left.

    I'm doing great so no harm was done but I had to turn him in because what if the next person does have a problem screw or something that could be dangerous.

    The PT is a young cocky sort that's a good person but too sure of himself and likes to tell you what is best for you. He played doctor and that's not his role. I was stupid enough to not put my foot down earlier but in my defense I've never had this done before and he was relentless.

    Please learn from my experience and don't be afraid to set limits. The PT should call your doctor if you really need something done . The doctor can then tell you it's a must. A PT has no business doing that.

    The good news is I'm FUSING! I am so happy. I've heard that with a 3 level fusing can be tough. According to the doctor I'm fusing well. YEAH!
  • I did write a formal complaint and they did an investigation. They are not going to make us pay for the services and apologized. They were glad that I'm OK and said my letter will go into the PT's file.

    The PT was very remorseful and learned from the situation. He will listen to his clients from now on I'm sure. He needed to be reprimanded so he could improve his behavior. He learned that he doesn't always have the answers and must work with the doctors and not play doctor.

    I'm glad that I didn't yell or scream but instead stuck to the issue at hand. The situation spoke for itself. It was tough to do but I truly believe by taking the step to complain I have saved someone else from being hurt by this young man.

    Good end to a tough story.
  • Wow! Life is a roller coaster. The PT company emailed me and they conveniently have already billed my insurance company so they said they will write off my co pays ugggg

    We're self insured so it does come out of our pocket and the co pays are low. We have a third party administrator that handles our claims. I contacted her and the company has to send her a fax so she can stop process on the checks. They've already been written just not dated.

    I let the PT company know to fax her asap telling her to stop the checks. Guess I'll see how honest this company is. They were suppose to stop billing until the investigation was completed.

    Fun Fun Fun Man will I say NO next time I question what any doctor or PT is doing to me. It's tough when you're in pain. If you buy a pair of shoes and the sole is broken you can take it back. In the medical field they get paid no matter what kind of job they do. You have to sue them to get your money back. Maybe our services would get better if we got a money back guarantee.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I never had any PT after ACDF and the reason I was given is that you just want to move your neck in subtle amounts and there should be no manipulation or strain.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Lynn,
    I am so pleased to read that you are fusing! After all you have been through with the misguided PT, my heart goes out to you. It is so hard to know what to do after this surgery.
    I had 3-level acdf with plating on 9/23. I have been going to PT three days a week since week 3. The therapist doesn't touch my neck, but I have been given gentle stretching exercises, which I do two times a day.
    I used to be very active before all of this happened...but life has changed...I am giong to go forward not back.
    You are in my thoughts and prayers
  • What a jerk! You poor thing! I am a low back gal, but I would NEVER, EVER let anyone near me with the intention of stretching me, oouuuwwww!!!! My ortho guy said ok when I asked for PT, but stressed to me that it should be very slow going and gentle, he wasn't sold on the idea at all. I wish I could go slap this guy for you, he took advantage of you (in my opinion)!!
    Hope all your future PT experiences are not as bad!
  • I'm grateful I wasn't hurt too. The letter of complaint will go in his files so if he does this to anyone else he will be fired. I sure hope he doesn't.

  • You made me laugh Rachel. Thanks I needed that.

    I agree with you and am so glad to hear what others experienced in PT. PT has always helped me so much in the past. This time was a shocker but I'm glad I spoke up.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    NO Pulling, NO traction on my neck after ACDF surgeries. Doesnt matter if its 3 weeks post op or 10 years post op.
    I have one is considered a short neck which is one of the reasons I can get easy flare ups in my cervical area. The other day at my Deep Tissue Massage treatment, as the session was finishing, he said to me, "Boy would I really love to take your head and stretch your neck, I know it would help with some of your pain, but I also know it could be very dangerous to you"
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks Ron I will know not to let anyone do traction or stretching EVER on my neck.

    I have a very long neck so that may have saved me from being hurt by this PT. I've been told I have a giraffe neck LOL

    It's so surprising that this PT uses this technique on all his ADCF patients. He says he's done 100's of people so he's been lucky or he's telling me stories. He stretched my neck 4 times and then his assistant who is gentler did my neck 5 times before I finally stuck to my guns and refused to come back. I must have a strong neck. I'm just so grateful the doctor thinks I'm okay.

  • I got brave and am trying a new PT. I've known her for years. She's treated many of my clients. She approved the workouts I do for my DVDs. I wish I would have gone to her instead of my surgeons PT from the start. Oh well. I didn't know she worked with ACDF patients.

    She has me doing two exercises that are opening up my back. Smart girl. Instead of trying to yank on my head she's opening up my back so my head can turn.

    I thought about a car door being closed on my coat. No matter how much you pull it won't move. By opening up my shoulders I can move my head. So she's opening up the door! It's wonderful.

    The other PT just kept pulling on my head and making my shoulders tighter in defense. He was pulling on my coat without opening the door! I was guarding like crazy.

    I pray this works out. She's also doing facia release on my back and behind my head. It feels GREAT!
  • I just wanted to say thanks to you! Because of what you shared in here of the "horrors" you had with your PT, I am educated a bit. I will be starting PT shortly for my neck in so far as "flexibility and strength training"... I specifically told my doctor, "No one is touching my neck!" He agreed that the PT specialist *should not* manipulate or pull on my neck - especially with a fusion that is misbehaving!! I was thinking of what you went through when I told him that! Take care, and thanks much Lynn!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • You are so welcome. I wish I'd not gone thru it but I'm thrilled you won't!

    My new PT is doing wonders for me. I actually was able to move my head without moving my body with it this weekend and due to that was able to spend a full day with my family shopping, helping my son and soon to be wife move ( I held the doors open LOL) and enjoyed going out to dinner! That was a big step for me.

    I hope your PT is as good as my new one and that your healing is accelerated due to having physical therapy.

    Take care Brenda!
  • gethealthy said:
    You are so welcome. I wish I'd not gone thru it but I'm thrilled you won't!

    My new PT is doing wonders for me. I actually was able to move my head without moving my body with it this weekend and due to that was able to spend a full day with my family shopping, helping my son and soon to be wife move ( I held the doors open LOL) and enjoyed going out to dinner! That was a big step for me.

    I hope your PT is as good as my new one and that your healing is accelerated due to having physical therapy.

    Take care Brenda!

    I hope I will be able to say the same in the coming weeks! :-) I had my Ulnar nerve moved in my elbow and hand about a year and a half ago - that is where I had my first "true" exposure to PT. The woman I had was wonderful! I think PT makes us "go past" what we otherwise would cringe from doing! Soooo.... I am taking your negative and making it (or hoping too!) into a positive! Thanks again! Glad to see you are now with a good therapist, and feeling better. Have a good one!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • My PT is helping me strengthen my neck. My surgeon gave her the OK. Seems I'm guarding because my neck is so weak that I can't hold my head up LOL

    This is so exciting! She's focusing on relaxing the muscles in my upper back and teaching my neck muscles how to work again. I have hope.

    I had very strong neck muscles before the surgery. It's wild how muscles can atrophy so fast.

    She's approaching my ROM in a great way. She said most people have 80% range when turning their heads. She hopes to bring me to 40%.

    It would be great to be able to go out in life again with me holding my head up instead of me balancing it on my skinny neck. I swear it feels like a bowling ball!
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