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Simple mistake can change everything...

Mr FoggyBottomsMMr FoggyBottoms Posts: 5
edited 06/14/2015 - 8:57 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hey everyone,

I have been seeking refuge in this forum over the past few weeks since injurying my neck and thought I would finally 'reach out.'

I am a relatively young, 29 year old who has - until recently - have been leading a very active, personally wonderful life. Very into an outdoorsy life, always hiking, traveling, etc. I have a wonderful wife, going on 12 years together, that I do almost everything with. And this year just finished almost 11 years of schooling and have landed my dream job. This was supposed to be our first summer of 'freedom' and then I made one silly mistake.

I have a history of upper thoracic and lower lumbar back problems, which flair up about once a year. About 2 months ago we were walking our dog when we were charged by an aggressive off leash dog on a trail. I quickly picked her up to protect her and after putting her down realized I tweaked my upper back. My wife, who has recently started working out more, recommended I try using a foam roller to jell stretch out my mid back. About a week later I accidentally missused a foam roller - laid on it lengthwise and didn't fully have my head supported on the roller


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Apparently I hit save too early...

    ...and let my head hyperextended off the edge of the roller right at the base of my head. I immediately felt a mild strain at C0-C2 region. I didn't think much about it for the first few days, but a week later developed agonizing neck pain. Went into the ER and had films done - no obvious fracture or luxation. Was shipped off with pain meds and muscle relaxants and told it was a simple soft tissue strain and would heal in a week or two. Sadly about a week later I developed left sided hand-foot paresthesia and weakness. Physician performed a cervical MRI which read out as normal and started me in Physical Therapy.

    PT seemed to help for the first week, but after we started doing traction my neck completely locked down. The next day I had severe dry mouth, mild dysphagia, decreased frequency to bowel movements, increased frequency of urination, worse paresthesia, and streaking pain from left side of ear to shoulder. I also can barely look up without getting severe occipital pain. I spoke with my physician and he said all those changes seem anxiety associated, which is definitely a possibility, but I found it strange they all occurred right after traction. I inquired if I could have a dynamic C0-C2 instability; he chuckled but offered to shoot dynamic cervical x-Rays. These were also normal....

    At the moment I am 6 weeks out from the injury and have all the same signs as above. Tylenlol and meloxicam for pain control; I am very sensitive to the muscle relaxants so am not taking any. Current medical plan is to consider referral to neurologist in 3 weeks if not better. If I had my preference I would seek a referral now! Maybe I should push harder....

    This has completely derailed me as an individual - have lost all my energy and personality. No longer seek any social interactions, having issues working, stopped walking dog, stopped household chores, etc. I've slumped into a severe depression exacerbated by anxiety and sleepiness. Lost my hunger drive and hence lost 10 pounds in just 4 weeks, down to a tiny 135 pounds at 5' 8." Hard to heal when you're in a negative energy balance. I have started seeing a counselor, but have had just a single session. My wife has been great but things are starting to drag on her.

    Fundamentally I have two big fears: 1) my C0-C2 is unstable and all of a sudden I will luxate and die and 2) I will never have the life I had before. And I cannot get these thoughts out of my head....

    Any thoughts or similar experiences??? Recommendations? Guess I am just looking for help....
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,878
    First, having a C0 problem would be major right now and your symptoms would be worse. (probably hence the reaction from your Doctor)

    Since all your diagnostic tests are coming back normal, you need to continue to find out the cause. Since the doctors are telling you that the tests are normal (which is good) what are their recommendations? Since they gave your pain medication and muscle relaxers, they had to see something wrong.

    What was their diagnosis? to send you to Physical Therapy. Many times it takes a week or so of PT treatments before you respond and for most the first 2 or 3 sessions seem to be very painful.

    I would contact your doctor and tell them about your condition after physical therapy.

    But I wouldn't jump the gun into the severe outlook that you describe. Listen to the doctors , but also continue to find the cause.
    You didnt identify what type of doctor(s) you saw... Primary Care, Orthopedic, Spinal Specialists, etc
    I am attaching a note I normally give to new members so that they can give us detailed information about their condition.

    Welcome to Spine-Health

    It would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong,

    Here are some questions that you should answer:

    • - When did this first start?
      - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
      - What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)
      - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?
      - What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)
      - What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)
      - Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
      - Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
      - What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

    Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
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    Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

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    • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
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    What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
    You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

    It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are
    I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

    Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways its like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then its up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

    Specific comments :

    Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

    --- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 06/15/15 10:55 est
    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
  • Howdy again,

    Thanks for your thoughts!!

    I was initially seen by an emergency physician and then have been following up with my general practice doctor. No specialists involved yet. As for my diagnosis they have diagnosed me with simple cervical strain, although my physician said my signs are more akin to whiplash associated disorder. As for PT, my physician actually recommended I stop active PT and do home stretches for the time being, given how it exacerbated my symptoms.

    The current plan is just wait and see how things progress for a month :-S I am debating being more proactive in my healthcare and may push for a referral soon. There are two large neck-back groups in my area that friends have anecdotally said were excellent...may be the place to go!

  • I've been experiencing similar issues..but not nearly as severe. MRI of brain was normal..and MRI of cervical spine was fine. I saw an ENT and he couldn't identify any issues. He said I could have Vestibular problem..but that heals over tine. Orthopedic doctor was concerned about my lower body tightness. Thinking maybe I was straining my upper body. I've had two therapy sessions and feel a little better. The therapist believes it could be vestibular as well. I could try doing some lower back and hamstring stretches. That might be part of your problem. I do feel for you man. I'm active and young like you and it's scary and depressing. But you'll get better. I have. Just keep your diet in check..stretch..and don't google too much. Don't be afraid to offer your own opinionated diagnoses either to your doctors. They will tell you yes or no based in your symptoms. That will give you ease.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    I think referral,to spine specialist is great idea.

    My primary worked with my chronic pain for two years and then referred me to pain management.
    Best thing for me.

    That specialist did other tests on me to try to discover cause.

    Have you had any nerve conduction testing?
    I had EMG and that revealed so much to doctor. He found areas effected on my spine that I had not even given voice to.

    Not all tests and or treatments are revealing and effective for all. Everyone so individual.
    It takes time and trial and try again.

    I think you right about the negative energy. You will need your energy for testing and healing.

    I think it good you seeing therapist. Sometimes a little insight or learning little twist on how to view things as you're going through this transition in you're life....is very helpful.

    You seem to be doing well in trying to care for yourself and seek out what you need. That's huge!

    Just curious, did you stop walking your dog because of inability and or pain? Or feeling too down to be that active?
    If you are able, little walk with dog may help lift your spirits, even a little. Our pets are good medicine. :)
    Or if you able to sit outside with your dog, that may help towards reengaging .

    I wish you the very best in feeling better. Please keep us posted on how you are doing!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Mr FoggyBottomsMMr FoggyBottoms Posts: 5
    edited 08/04/2015 - 9:41 AM
    Hey Everyone,

    It has been about a month and half since I last visited this site. Sadly, I have made minimal improvements over this time period and feel that I need an outlet...

    From a physical perspective, I continue to have near agonizing pain in my C0-C1 with a very severely decreased ROM. My head feels like it can just 'fall off' any moment. For pain management, I am currently on tylenol, orphenidrine, and nabumentone. They have kept me off narcotics for the time being as to avoid any dependency. Therapist diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, which I have been unable to control with adaptive techniques. So I was recently started on cymbalta to help with the depression. I have not had a good, regenerative night's sleep in nearly 3 months and now am lucky if I can fall asleep for more than an hour a night. I have not exercised in 3 months and barely do walks around the neighborhood. I have a general feeling of apathy for life and find nothing - literally nothing - enjoyable anymore. I cannot even drive myself around town due to the pain and low ROM. The whole process has been very taxing on my poor wife, bless her soul, but things have not necessarily been 'rosy' these past few weeks. Work has become exceptionally difficult, and with me being our primary source of income, I have become scared I may ultimately lose my position. I do have long-term disability insurance, and have started looking into possibly contacting them to start the process. Which is probably premature, I feel disabled.

    From a medical perspective, I finally had a consultation with a neurologist after waiting 7 weeks. Despite having intermittent arm pain and weakness, my neurologic examination was normal. Given the possibility I could have a dissecting aneurysm from the original injury, they did perform a head/neck CT angiogram with no evidence of damage. So I guess that is good. I brought up the possibility of having a dynamic instability, and she thought there was a minimal chance of that and said I could discuss the appropriate tests with my PCP rather than performing the diagnostic through her. Awesome....

    The current 'plan' is to continue PT and massage therapy and hopefully add some additional pain management on board.

    I once was a total bundle of energy and enjoyed every aspect of life. Just begin a very promising career. Now I really am in a deep depression with no sense of any possible escape. I feel completely lost with no hope of finding myself or life again.

    All at the ripe age of 29....

    Help please...

  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,819
    A hyper extension injury resulting in all this? Did you have previous neck issues?
    I know what it's like to work hard to reach something then have it taken from you, tha anxiety is crushing because that was your life and hopes . I highly suggest the specialists everyone said and maybe a psychologist to address what could be some type of post traumatic issue. It's not about the event it's about how the event affected you. 11 years is a long time to hang your hopes on something only to feel it slipping away.
    And as far as your tests while they may be normal your symptoms don't seem to be, follow your gut
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • My family has a history of bad backs, and indeed I do suffer from lumbar and thoracic spine problems. No prior cervical issues however. I have had a few family members mention that I am in a 'PTSD' sort of mindset, which is definitely a real possibility.

    Speaking with my PCP he does not think additional diagnostics for a 'dynamic' instability are warranted at the moment. He wants to see how I fare with the PT and anti-anxiety medications before moving 'forward' on any additional testing.

    Thanks for your thoughts :-)

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