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When I reached age 50, after riding an upright two-wheeled
bicycle for many years, I started to notice an increased uneasiness when riding
because of balance. I knew of no
particular reason for the uneasiness, and my primary doctor was not
concerned. At about the same time, I
noticed an occasional muscle spasm on the top of my head. Over the years this symptom subsided. A
question many years later: were those
symptoms a sign of changes to my neck? In spite of my symptoms, my solution to continue cycling was to get a
three-wheeled trike. Also over a period
of time, I noticed increased issues with my balance and walking. My balance was not so severe that I would
fall. Again doctors had no explanation
About two years ago, I experienced even more increased difficulty
with balance and walking with
a need to be careful for fear that I would fall. I began physical therapy, which helped, but I
still had issues with my balance and walking.
I scheduled an
appointment with a neurologist who was a movement specialist.. At this time I was having issues walking in
open space, like a parking lot, or while crossing the street. I was walking with a wide gait with some hand
swings. I started to use a cane. An MRI of my brain was done, which came back
normal. Great news, no brain tumor or
any stroke! Sometime later, other tests
were done. The neurologist diagnosed
possible ataxia, so he ordered a $15,000
blood test. The blood test was somewhat experimental, so after my insurance
paid, my maximum out of pocket was $600. The good news was that the blood test
came back negative for ataxia.
While visiting friends in Chicago, I learned about another test that
might help me diagnose my problem. I made an appointment for this test that
utilizes something called a Zyto Scan machine.This machine showed I had inflammation of the neck with no further explanation.
Some supplements were suggested. Over
time I found these supplements did not help, but at least there were no side
effects and I had a clue that my neck was involved.
A six month follow-up visit with the neurologist just confirmed that
there were no neurological issues. Another round of physical therapy was
prescribed. The physical therapy entailed a lot of leg work and neck movements
to try to help with balance. Well, a
miracle happened! I thought I was cured!!
I could easily walk through open spaces and parking lots. That lasted two weeks until I woke up one
morning with some neck pain and the same walking and balance issues resurfaced all
over again. I went to my primary doctor
to explain my neck pain and how I was doing so well until suddenly I wasn’t. He ordered a neck X-ray and referred me to an
ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist
insisted that my eyes were great and was highly critical about my glasses
prescription prescribed by another neuro-optometrist eye specialist in hopes of
helping me improve my balance. I went to an ear specialist who insisted that my
balance issues had nothing to do with any ear problems. So now the primary
doctor wanted an MRI of the neck. My insurance
said no and wanted me to do even more physical therapy.
For the third round of physical therapy, I went to a specialist that does an innovative
type of physical therapy, IMT (Integrated Manual Therapy). This type
of therapy uses light touch self-body healing techniques. Well, it did not take
more than a couple of sessions for the therapist to realize that I had a
serious neck issue and that I might need cervical fusion. The light touch work actually moved the neck
vertebrae away from the spinal cord, and for an hour or two I could walk normally
without any balance issues. So that made
me realize that the previous physical therapy required a lot of neck work. I
wondered,” Did IMT move the vertebrae off a compressed spinal cord lasting only
for two hours?” If that were so, I
decided, now we may have something of a solution to my problem in the absence
of other issues. (What is also very
interesting is that a neck massage also seemed to miraculously cure my balance
issue for an hour or so.) My neck seemed to me to be a common denominator.