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Neck Pain and Back spasms. Or something like that.

driftwoodddriftwood Posts: 81
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Quick intro.
Started with a trap pull, ended up seeing a chiro that adjusted me 4 times in week, saying I had c6 out of position.
Saw a neuro surgeon - (told me I had DDD) but nothing to serious, current issues were more muscular.

Ended up seeing a PT twice a week for "various" issues.

I have been seeing a PT for about a month or more twice a week. I am told that I have muscle spams (regular doc confirmed) as well as other isseus with c6 and c1/2. Again everyone I have seen seems to think its muscular.

I have not really gotten better with all the "treatment" the OT has been doing. I usually go in and get stretched out for about 15mins (neck and back stretched) then I end with doing basic strength. Problem is that I am not really improving and feel like I keep aggravating it. There are days where its my neck, then the middle back then the lower back and it hurts pretty darn good. I start to get better then something sets it all of, it might be I slept wrong or, sat wrong or this or htat bottom line being one step forward two steps back.

I am on diclofenac to help the immflimation and that seems to help settle things.

I am just not sure what do do since anything I try seems to aggravate the problem and am not even sure what exactly it is anymore. I am thinking it might be best just to not do anything andnot see any pt or anything and just leave it be for a month or two.

I am over two months since pulling my trap which has turned into a myriad of issues. YEt I am told this typically takes from a a month to several months to heal. Yet I do not feel like I am improving at the rate I should be.

I am going to get evaluated by a different PT. I am not overly confident with the one I have anymore since I feel like I just keep going in every week with not improvement.

If anybody has any feedback I would appreciate that

to recap:
1. Pain seems to be all over, sometimes upper neck, side of neck, middle of neck, c6, then middle the lower. It just changes on a day to day basis. No real neurological symptoms.

2.) Neuro Surgeon = I have cervical DDD but aht was not the cause of the current issues. Its all muscular.

3.) Regular doc = chronic back spasms. Diclofenac. I did not take these regurarily but have started a new round taking twice a day consistant for 10days.

4.) PT - Pulled trap and chronic spasms as well as other issues.

Thankyou for taking time to read this.


  • 5.) Every time I move my neck or stretch my arm, there is always a pop.
  • Howdy Driftwood,

    What your describing and where you are describing (the pain), it probably is muscle related. Have you seen a Neurologist yet - not a surgeon, a Neurologist? They will do a physical exam, and depending what they find coupled with your symptoms, he may opt for more detailed testing.

    I am guessing that you have not had an MRI or CT yet, just x-rays? Most PT's are very good at what they do, but they are trained in the 'mechanics' of our bodies. GP's are good at general medical issues, but again *if* there is something beyond DDD (gray hair of the spine - not really a disease in itself) going on. So, the best shot for true answers might be either a Neurologist or Orthopedic (who has spine training) as your next step. Please let us know how it goes. I hope it is just muscles yelling at you for stressing them! Take care. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • As always, thanks for responding Brenda.
    The next step was to do MRI but since I was not really having any "real" signs of nerve being involved I am not so sure. Coupled with the Physical therapist telling me that the MRI always shows abnomalities.
    And the MRI apparantly will just send me back to the PT.

    I am thinking that I may try a different Pt first, just for an eval, then just leave it alone for a couple months. See if that makes a difference. This thing has been picked at ever since the injury and has only I feel made it worse :(

    The Medicine does help, so does heat.

    I am hoping its muscular too, hope the chiro did not mess me up.
  • Welcome Driftwood. Hopefully your stay at SPineHealth will be short and uneventfull. I would suggest finding a good orthopedist. Someone who does spine. They can order some tests like MRI and CT if necessary. But they will start with a thorough eval of you. Stay away from surgeons until you are given a definate diagnosis that requires surgery.

    A few thoughts on what you wrote. If could be just muscular. If it is this can take several months to heal. A good PT will work with you to strengthen the surrounding muscles as well as stretch the pulled muscles. You didn't mention massage as part of your PT. Seems odd. I would definately try another PT office. There are great, good and bad ones.

    Has anyone suggested a muscle relaxant? A spasming muscle is really nasty. You need to get that under control so it can heal. Also trigger point injections can be useful to get the meds right to the spasm.

    And the popping. We've all talked about that one alot. It can happen because of spurs or other bone issues on the vertebra. It can also be ligaments sliding over each other. Some people claim it is air pockets. No matter what the cause make sure you tell the doctor but don't be surprised if they say it is ok.

    I hope you can find some relief. Rule out the worst and work from there. Infortnately it can be a long slow trip to relief.
  • Thanks Kris.

    My PT - Routine is as follows -

    1.) I go in and get worked on with my neck (stretching various angles etc.) Some adjustment then I do a bike routine for my hands (usually 10 mintues) then I do a slew of resistance band work outs. Twice I week.

    Sometimes I react really badly and sometimes it gets better. Last week I was feeling great, and slept wrong and have been in pain since then.

    I do not get any exercises to do at home other then being told to do chin tucks to help strenghten those forward muscles.

    NOt sure what it is, but something is definitly slowing my recovery.

    The first time I saw the pt, I was told 4-5 seessions. Now it has been 9-10. And I am no better off then not having gone.

    It helps to knwo I think that it takes time, upto several months.

    Perhpas I am just rushing this?
  • What about heat and electric stim? I have had PT for pretty similar muscle spasms. This was my routine

    - heat and stim for 10 mins
    - arm bike for 4 mins
    - thera bands - down and back
    - weights pulling down
    - posture ball where you lean back on wall with ball behind shoulders
    - massage by pt

    What concerns me is that they are stretching you before your muscles are warmed up. The general theory is that you warm up the muscles with heat and exercise and then stretch or massage them. I have never seen stretching done on cold muscles.

    I'd love to know what other people have experienced in PT.
  • Looking back, I would say I am on week 7 with this issue.

    Also, I called another PT and am getting another eval.
    He answered some of my questions alittle more satisfactory. Told me to stay on the anti inflammatory as they will actually help stop the spasms and not just provide releif. Also told me that I might have also strained the joints in the spine.

  • It varies.

    I always end with stem. Adjustment and stretch(am stretched manually) to start. Not always bike first. And thats what bugs me, I just get this feeling that it is not being take seriously.
  • Driftwood, you are fortunate in having and accepting this diagnosis saying the problem is muscular, as this is such a common problem, yet it is nearly always overlooked in the search for finding a 'serious' one. I sometimes wonder if it is sympathy they are after, rather than a cure.
    MRI's don't show soft tissue problems, yet these are the main ones people have.
    Anyway, for you the treatment is simple, and is what I am doing.
    Find yourself a remedial or sports massage place, and start having regular massages. I predict that after the first one your pain will have gone.
    You will need regular visits as muscles tend to revert.
    I now see it as a lifelong maintenance thing.
    Make sure you get a proper masseuse, and ask questions about what is wrong, what they are doing and why, and what you can do to help.
  • Howdy Driftwood,

    Whoo.... that word "always" is a scary word in many fields, medical I feel is one of them!!! A PT is NOT (in most cases to be fair) a doctor, and they surly aren't Ortho/Neuro, so I would consider if your insurance allows, to go back to your GP for a referral, or if your insurance allows, find a doctor and get a 'real' exam and look see!

    I say this because some folks have nasty looking MRI's and yet minor to no symptoms, then others have small problems and are reeling in pain! Unfortunately in this day and time, *we* the patient has to be our own advocate and push to get issues addressed, and hopefully resolved. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks Peter.

    I got into this mess I think by seeing the wrong people. The chiro told me that I littereally had a "bone off an inch" being c6 that was off. And was why I was having all these issues. I was later told that it was DDD. Then chronic back spasms. Then "other issues" with neck.

    Sometimes I get symptoms that I havent hard before, and it starts to worry me.

    From being a "simple" issue, yet it doesn't resolve.

  • In January, my Ortho diagnosised my spasms & pain as a "trap strain" & injected it with cotisone, gave me meds for inflammation, muscle relaxer, & pain, and sent me to PT where they gave me a host of cervical exercises to do at home twice a day. 2 wks ago started water exercises. Its very frustrating & very painful. Sorry you have this problem - it hurts very much
    gotta be patient & stretch
    This all started when I went for a massage 10 mos ago & he said "there's nothing to massage, its frozen".
  • hi driftwood, it can be very frustrating and time consuming to find the right people to help you, so persevere, and always ask lots of questions so you can assess them.
    What might be wrong is just the usual thing, as I have, good old wear and tear.
    The neck is a complex area and some physios won't touch it, which is very odd and seemingly against their ethos.
    In my case, my neck is worn out, as my Dr is wont to remind me quite often, and all I can do is medicate. No treatments will fix it.
    I get a lot of pain in my neck when I overdo arm activities (nearly everything) and it really knocks me around.
    I will suffer just from doing this post! But that's life.
    You may be similar. Whatever the causes, your muscles will be a mess, so you must get them treated first, I believe, so that you can remove them from the equation and then see what else hurts.
    Muscles can be enormously painful, and pull on the spine, creating additional problems.
    A good masseuse will be able to see your problem muscles immediately.
    If in spasm, trigger point will be used. Then the muscle will be gradually coaxed to stretch.
    Don't do any exercising until this had been done. No point in stressing further already stressed muscles.
    You will need to assess what activities lead to soreness. Usually it happens a day or so afterwards, so it's easy to overdo it.
    I'm down to about 30 minutes activity every second day!
  • Thanks Peter -

    I think that may very well be the case here. And I am beginning to think that the current PT is just not treating this correctly.

    SO I think my current strategy is to get evaluated by another PT. See what he says. I have talked to him on the phone and like what he has to say. But am thinking just resting everything for couple of months and stop picking at it.

  • Good idea.
    My physio centre has two remedial masseuses, so the two therapies obviously go hand in hand.
    If your back is really sore for no apparent reason, you may have a joint slightly out of place.
    The physio/ masseuse will soon spot it.
    Something else to think about.
    I've had a marked improvement over the last two weeks by taking a daily dose of magnesium chloride.
    A chemist suggested magnesium when I mentioned muscle pains, and I bought a powder mixture.
    My daughter found capsules that offered a higher dose, so I changed to them. Didn't see any real benefit.
    Then she found the magnesium chloride, called magnesium oil as it has an oily feel.
    The best way is to rub it into the skin, but I find that a nuisance, so I take a teaspoon full twice a day. After a week I thought there was an improvement, and by the next week was sure.
    Have a read about it. It is just concentrated deep sea water, full of minerals.
    This is one supplement that I can definitely recommend.
  • So I went to the new pt today and he told me to look at the situation like getting a paper cut. Meaning that, as it starts to heal, it feels good and all, but as soon as you push around the area it opens the cut right back up.

    Somehow he said that I have created a whiplash scenario with fybromyalgia type symptoms. Neck and trap and still locked up etc.

    He says that it is really really delicate situation to get out of, it can be done, but just gotta be super careful.

    Phase 1
    The first phase to very very very gently do certains stretches to help loosen the muscles. Apparantly being locked up they are constantly contracted, so these are aimed to just get them to being used to not being contracted.
    He also has a couple of message therapists and exercise physiologists that he works with too that will work on it. The whole idea is to get the muslces to calm down, and reduce the inflammation.

    phase 2
    once the inflammation is down and the muscles are loosend then I will be doing strengthening.

    Phase 3
    will be to work it back to full whatever.

    So far this week I am to do three stretches every hour.

    SO that is his opinion.
  • Peter,

    I have been hearing about the magnesium so I think it is time to try. :)
  • Yes. I think the plan is to take the maximum dose for a while until you have restored your proper levels, then drop back to a small dose.
    The liquid is the best one for take-up.
  • I have been getting bad pains in my back neck and shoulder plades,my upper back felling hot,making me very unhappy as the pain moves from one side to the other and is constantly there all the time ,i thought it might go after time but not easing at all im seeing my doctor in the next couple of days,i do smoke just feeling very low in my self :(
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