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Neck pain caused by tight muscles

Peter BPPeter B Posts: 511
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Went to a new pain dr today and he gave me a physical exam, feeling the deep muscles in the neck. He was very thorough, and this is the first time that any such examination has been done.

His opinion was that the x-rays didn't indicate anything really bad for the nerves, and that my very tight and sore muscles were probably more likely to be the cause of my neck and shoulder pains.

I tend to agree with him as I've always had a problem with muscle tension, particularly from stress. The computer is my biggest muscle pain contributor.

He explained with a muscle chart which of mine were tight. It matched my symptoms exactly.

Physios would send me away saying that I was too tense to work on!
So he has suggested a Clinical Exercise Physiology Program, which once learnt can be continued at home as a regular exercise regimen.

He was not keen to maintain the steroid injections, feeling that it is not a good long term plan, though he didn't elaborate.
He said that he would recommend a rhizotomy (nerve burning) instead, as it lasts much longer, if the nerves are in fact a problem.

So for others with neck and shoulder pain, I'd suggest that you also have yourself checked out for severe muscle tension. Hopefully easier to treat and not so much medication.
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13

Comments

  • I would suggest that for percausionary measure too have an MRi done of your neck. I thought that my pain was due to tension,stress,and there was something more than that. It was real bad,migrains daily with lots of pain in my neck, burning pain, unbearable.I had MRI done and found that I have Cervical Spinal Stenosis.

    I understand that there is tension,but if you think you can handle your job,and that you handled your job when you first began without that tension,stress that, I suggest you re-think what your Dr is telling you,and if you think what he is doing for you is helping than leave it at that.But,I would get a second opinon. There could be possibly something more going on than what you think.

    I never had back or neck problems when I started my job, as a NAR,and after 5 yrs. I am in pain daily,and medicated for the pain.And I'm still in pain after a yr of not working.

    I have cervical spinal stenosis c2-c5 If you feel like you need to talk more give me a shout K.

    You friend,

    Dar
  • hI agree with Dar... there is a real difference between what an MRI/CT and an what an x-ray can show. xrays can show bone; but can' show quality of the discs and nerves (as i understand it) Like you... for years, i had off and on neck pain. I chalked it up to stress, as did my PT, my osteopath, and the masseus i went to... no one ever mentioned cervical discs... ddd... etc. Then about 2 months + ago now... my neck went, with such excruciating pain, the radiculopathy set in down my shoulder and arm... then muscle weakness. I immediately sought medical treatment, got my mri, got more PT, steroids, etc. once i saw the NS.... it was surgery. I just got my MRI.. it says i have complete obliteration of the CSF!!!(spinal fluid)and DDD, amongst other things. Little did i know.... Sooooo one never knows what the cause is of neck pain. I agree, if it ain't broke... don't fix it... but if youre in alot of pain... get it checked out by a qualified physician and seek the appropriate tests... we are our own advocates!!

    Now... with all that being said lol, i truly hope your situation is just stress related... you don't want this road!

    Good luck!
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
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  • Peter - I have some questions. I ask this becasue I have the same symptoms of really tight muscles with little to no nerve probplems. I have large bulge at c5-6 and minimal bulges at c6-7 and c7-t1. I was thinking maybe I have facet joint problems and these are causing all my pain. I will be getting a my yearly MRI soon and they are going to look at the facet joints.

    Why are they suggesting rhizotomy if there are no nerve problems? Did the facet injections help at all? I've read in some many articles that if your problems are facet joints the injections work. Apparently that is one way to be certain if it is facet joint problems if the injections don't work no facet joint problems. That's what I've researched but never asked some who has had it done.

    I hope the pt does you good. Let me know how you are doing because our symptoms are so a like.
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,362
    So so very true!
  • While all my problems are mild to moderate, for three to five months before I had even an x ray done, my neurologist thought it was just anxiety, tension, stress that was making my neck and upper back tight. Then I had an X ray and then an MRI (results below) and it turns out to be way more than that.

    I mean looking back at it now, sure I was depressed and had anxiety, but anxiety never gave me pain or headaches before. It just seemed odd that it was nothing but tension. So now I get the treatment for my problem better.

    I started with headaches, went into neck pain, then I got radioculpathy pain down my left arm with some slight weakness, then the same happened down my left leg and hip. And now I have all that, but the headaches have decreased.

    So hopefully all u have is tension, but if you can afford it, I'd go for a second opinion and or an MRI to be sure,
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,427
    There is no question that muscle tension and stress can play a big role in showing up as pain in one part of your body or another. When you body tries to fight one area, it will tend to leave another area semi-protected. For example, if we had a bad toe that caused us to limp for a bit, it is very likely that because of this un balance you might wind up with a sore back, or some other problem.

    Muscles left untreated can create more problems. And over time if not taken care of, those muscles can become so rigid that they will put unnecessary stress on your spine.

    As far as asking for MRI, I would just add that when you make up your mind to do this, put it in a way that the doctor would suggest the MRI vs you telling them that you need it.
    Its so much better placing the doctor in the position that they suggest the plan. I have talked with doctors who have had patients come to them and tell them they want this that and that diagnostic test. That is upsetting to a doctor.

    Plus, we cant say if a MRI would be justified. Today, doctors need to communicate with insurance companies WHY
    a certain test needs to be done. With the cost of MRI's in the $2,000 range, Insurance companies are not just doing blanket approvals.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • i agree with ron - i have recently received botox injections due to rigid muscles. I was given 4 injections into the left and right trap muscle in the neck and thoracic area. I am having a hard time at the moment (been told it gets much worse before it gets better -esp the neck, but i can testify that the thoracic isn't much fun either). The hope is to get this muscle to lighten up. I have several ( @ 8 ) lumps that i can reach in my upper back. I am amazed at how powerful my muscles are - i have tingling as well through my upper back, shoulder blades that they believe is a result of these rigid muscles.

    i will let you know when the 'worst' wears off if the botox was worth it.
    patti
  • i agree with ron - i have recently received botox injections due to rigid muscles. I was given 4 injections into the left and right trap muscle in the neck and thoracic area. I am having a hard time at the moment (been told it gets much worse before it gets better -esp the neck, but i can testify that the thoracic isn't much fun either). The hope is to get this muscle to lighten up. I have several ( @ 8 ) lumps that i can reach in my upper back. I am amazed at how powerful my muscles are - i have tingling as well through my upper back, shoulder blades that they believe is a result of these rigid muscles.

    i will let you know when the 'worst' wears off if the botox was worth it.
    patti
  • Thanks for all of your replies.
    I am amazed at the number of people who post or mention MRI results.My GP wouldn't even give me new x-rays when I suggested it, saying that we know what my problem is, and it will just show the same arthritis.
    I had to agree, as it was pretty much the same, I was just a bit curious-probably dwelling on it too much.
    So I'd have no chance of an MRI. I am retired but with private health cover, but is an MRI an unnecessary expense at the moment?
    I have had bad muscle tension for over 20 years, brought on by work stress, then compounded by computer work. I have been fully retired for 4 years, after being retrenched in 1998 and going back on a casual basis.
    It has concerned me that none of the doctors, specialists or physios have done such a simple but telling neck exam on me up until now.
    Once I had described the pain areas, they pronounced their verdict.
    I know that my tight muscles are a big problem-I can feel the knots. The new pain dr was able to trigger my pains by pressing on the various muscles, proof enough for me.
    I still have facet joint pains, and occipital neuralgia on occasions, but I just wonder which is cause and which is effect now.
    So the plan is to give the new treatment a go, and report back in 6-8 weeks.
    It has also concerned me that no-one has suggested any sort of regular exercise, so my muscles are just getting weaker all of the time. That's another reason to try the new plan.
    It's described as a Biopsychosocial Model of pain, which correlates physical, psychological and social factors. It encourages self-management of pain with emphasis on emotional, mental, behavioural and social factors-all to help cope more effectively with pain and associated problems.
    Sounds a whole lot better than my narrow range of treatment to date, and I am looking forward to it.
  • Good luck to you.

    Just wanted to point out that my x-ray results were different than my MRI results. Which baffles me. Obviously both had something...The x ray revealed arthritis and impingement while the mri only showed herniation and stenosis.

    But if you are happy then go with your gut.
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