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suggestions, please! how do you cope?

1.5 years ago I had a pretty serious compression fracture of C6-C7, which has since developed spondylosis and annular tearing. (5 days ago I had bilateral facet injections from C6-T1, so I'm still holding out some modicum of hope that they will help. So far, the pain's only been worse.) I have been and still am dealing with almost constant and mostly localized pain (I realize of course that no on here is a stranger to pain, alas).

What I'm wondering is this: how do others with cervical spine injuries/pain do the sorts of mundane daily activities I used to take for granted? I'm not talking marathon running or anything crazy, but just simple things like sleeping or finding a comfortable position in which to read/watch TV/etc.

I can't sit for longer than 20 minutes or so without increasing pain, so I've been using a cobbled-together standing desk where I can use the computer. Still, even standing I can only last for up to an hour (on a good day). This seems like the perfect opportunity to give in and spend my days reading (at least as long as painkillers will allow, ugh) and watching TV, but even that's difficult, since any attempt to prop myself up on pillows is painful. Best is lying on my back, head on mostly deflated beach ball, but it's hard and annoying to hold a book or tablet directly above my face.

So, fellow cervical-sufferers: have you found a reading/TV watching position that works for you? Or do I just need to suck it up and develop some arm muscles for the directly-above-face option?

Similarly, I simply cannot find a position to sleep comfortably. Does anyone have any recommendations for pillows/positions/etc. that don't make the pain wake you after only a few hours, with no hope of getting back to sleep?

Finally, I'm dying to be able to do some exercise again (I'd always been extremely active pre-injury, but at this point all I can do are my PT exercises and some short walks. Any suggestions for exercises that don't ramp up pain? (Are there core exercises that don't put strain on the neck?) Aquatic therapy sounds wonderful but I doubt I can afford it.

Thank you all so much for your help and support!
compression fracture C6-C7 (7/11), developed spondylosis and possible annular tear(s);
facet injections C6-T1 (1/4/13)


  • I deal with that too. I have to walk away from computer after a while and then come back. I love to read and know exactly what you are talking about. I have nerve damage in both arms from my neck and carpal tunnel in both hands It is hard for me to hold a book open, especially a paperback book. I ended up getting a nook. They make some very very soft comfy throws and blankets. I use them behind my neck and have one on my lap while I am in my recliner and have another throw to prop my nook on. It is almost impossible for me to sit and read without inviting all sorts of pain. I have become an adult blanket baby!

    I also use lidoderm patches on my neck. Thats a hard place to get them to stick on. I put it on and sleep on my back which is better than a side sleeper which I used to be. I also will sit more on the edge of the couch and chair or recline. to watch tv. Rarely can I sit through a movie without having to stand or change my position. If I go to the theatre I sit in back in case I need to stand. Man, I guess I have really changed my life! I swear by the lidoderm patch. You can have 3 on at a time. They are 12 hours on and 12 hours off. So I decide during the day wether Im gonna need it more for day or will I need it more when I go to bed.

    Sitting back on the couch for me, slouching is bad. Thats whu I sit a little closer to the edge and try to sit straight. When my neck is the worst I HAVE to lay down with my lidoderm patch and medicine, clutching my softy blanket.

    Maybe someone can post some more suggestions....lol:)

    Good Luck!
    Herniated disc C5 C-6, DDD, Fibromyalgia, Nerve damage both arms, Disc Decompression, SCS 2010, Si joint pain, many epidurals, mri's, trigger point injections. Nerve conduction tests, RFA 11/28/12, RLS
  • DaffydolphinDaffydolphin Posts: 98
    edited 01/09/2013 - 2:24 PM
    I have an expensive leather, memory foam padded zero-gravity recliner with a swing-out tilting desk surface and adjustable top of the back for changing head angle. I sleep in it, watch tv, read, work on tablet and notebook pc. I am able to find reasonably comfortable positions for all these activities. Tried all the bed types, pillows and sleeping positions, gave up on beds a year and a half ago. When traveling, we only drive and I take a folding zero-gravity deck recliner and a 2 inch memory foam pad for it, not very good, but I can get by with it for a few days. I walk, by 2 miles it gets to my neck and shoulder, but weather permitting, i do 2-3 miles a day anyway. Ride a recumbent exercise bike without any problem. Daily PT at home and neck traction. Like playing duplicate bridge, but the time at tables sitting on poor chairs requires extra meds, hurts a lot, but I still do it. It is my only get-out-of-the-house social activity.
    Severe DDD, Severe neural foraminal stenosis at 2 levels, moderate canal stenosis at 2 levels, significantly impaired left shoulder & arm function. Chronic moderate compression fracture at C6.
  • A nook is a great help for reading, you don't have to hold it open, it takes away the pain of turning pages, all you have to do is tap the side of the screen, and it's much easier to find ways to prop it up.

    I have found that propping myself up in the corner of the couch with a trillion pillows (luckily the couch we bought is the kind that has huge throw pillows instead of seat back cushions) with a heat blanket is the best way to stay comfortable. I have the TV in front of me where I am and I have my laptop on my lap and my nook with me. I spend most of the day here and I sleep here. The heat blanket makes almost anything more comfortable, it's a great therapy.

    I recently gave aquatic therapy a try and it was not helpful, if anything it made my pain much worse. I also liked exercise before my neck got bad and now am really unable to exercise, getting out of the house and walking around a store when I feel up to it is the most I hope for. It's really astounding sometimes to realize how many things you used to take for granted. I also love the Lidoderm patches that the previous poster mentioned. I was prescribed them recently and they are a huge help.
    Microlaminectomy and discectomy at C7-T1 on April 26th.
  • thanks for the suggestions, though I guess there's no magic solution, huh? ;) I just got some lidoderm patches and am excited to try them out, and I've constructed a sort of pillow fort/throne on the floor against the couch which has been at least semi-tolerable for longer than any other attempt.

    Daffydolphin, your setup sounds incredible! Where'd you find it?

    Another, related question: I have to go to a lot of lectures which are inevitably held in rooms full of the worst plastic chairs imaginable, and my only solution so far has been to take extra meds. Problem is that if I take enough to get through the several hours, my cognitive capacities are not exactly up to par; but if I don't, then the pain prevents me from focusing, anyway. Has anyone found one of those spine-relief seat cushions that helps? Or are they not really worth it for cervical pain?

    thanks again!
    compression fracture C6-C7 (7/11), developed spondylosis and possible annular tear(s);
    facet injections C6-T1 (1/4/13)
  • Will PM details to you in a couple hours. Don't think we are allowed to mention brand names, models and purchase sources in the forum.
    Severe DDD, Severe neural foraminal stenosis at 2 levels, moderate canal stenosis at 2 levels, significantly impaired left shoulder & arm function. Chronic moderate compression fracture at C6.
  • I use a soft cervical collar to help with situations where I need to hold my head up with nothing to lean on, such as while driving and while at my desk at work. It helps with support, restricts me from moving my neck too much, and adds a bit of comfortable traction. Of course once you do that, then you have to answer questions about the collar, but my job was well aware that I'd been having problems for awhile by the time it got severe enough for me to wear the collar at work so it wasn't too weird or hard for me to talk about.
    Microlaminectomy and discectomy at C7-T1 on April 26th.
  • As I was reading this, I kept thinking Soft Collar, as the Above Post. It is a Life Saver especially when the neck becomes tired. It really helps with my Arthritic Pain, it keeps the neck Supported. I use it when Lifting groceries, cleaning as it prevents any movement that will cause pain. Yes, it is Life changing for sure and it can become mentally draining as well.

    I have found that sleeping on my back is the only way to get rest. It took me a long time about 2 years to get used to it, I was a tummy/side sleeper. I also Sleep with the Soft Collar. I tend to like to sleep like a ? mark. People have told me this, then I would wake up in Severe pain. The Soft Collar again is my Life Saver. Another member advised me on putting a heating pad in-between the Neck & Collar, that feels Great & helps the Heat stay on my Neck on a Low Setting.

    Also I have learned patience, I wait for Help from either Family or Friends. Driving is a real challenge, I am thinking about getting a Special Rear View Mirror so I do not Have the Blind Spots. I do not drive far on my own, but just driving in General gets my Anxiety up. I avoid at all costs making Left turns. My Mom did that for years, and she never had Neck problems, so I picked that up from Her.

    There are many of other coping techniques, this Forum is Very Informative and Supportive!!! Without Spine Health I would of been Lost. I hope you feel better.

    ACDF C4-C7 5/13/2010. Synthetic Bone Graft Failed Fusion.
    PCF C4-C7 8/13/13. Rods and Screws Fused in 3 Months with Autograft.
    C6-C7 Spineous process Surgically Shaved Off 3/11/14.
  • I also agree that a soft collar can be used to get you over a hump.Dependant on Doctors orders a soft collar may slow down regaining the strenght of what was disturbed.At times I do say 'I cannot stand this anymore" this is when I turn to either ice or heat and stop what I was doing.Because you have cervical issues you do not have the reserve time typing on the computer you used to have.Computer time must be reduced.
  • I have a bunch of soft feather pillows that I use to prop myself up a bit in bed. I can only sleep on my back, propped up with head slightly turned to my right when the pain is significant. Thats what worked for me. I am currrently getting relief from steroid shots so have gone back to side sleeping with a body pillow for support. Using a travel pillow (like for an airplane) can help support the neck when I am on my couch. I recently bought a brace that helps pull back my shoulders and gives me some relief too. Unfortunately for me even with all these stratagies I do not sleep more then a few hours at a time. As for putting a book right above your face. My dad does model building and has this arm thing that you clip to the table and you can use the gripper at the other end to hold the book. The long arm is adjustable to position how high or low you need it. He got this at the hobbie shop. Hope you find some relief soon!!
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