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Teen with neck pain/spasms

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,294
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I've been doing some research and found this site and hope that someone may have some suggestions. I have a 13 year old who has been having headache, neck pain/spasms for over a year. She stopped wearing her orthodontic headgear and carrying a school backpack and still is hurting. After a few trips to the pediatrician with no results, I mentioned it to her orthopedist (she started seeing him a few months ago for a leg length discrepancy). After x-rays, she had an mri that showed a possible Chiari....referred to a neurosurgeon (another mri, cat scan with/without contrast) and he said that it is a chiari 0 with only a 3-5 mm herniation and would not be causing her neck pain and recommended physical therapy. He also said that she has a misshapen clivus bone in her neck. So back to the orthopedist who sets up the pt. The therapy started helping after about 8 visits, but after a few days it comes back. The muscles in her neck are so tight that you can see and feel them. This past week she started complaining also of pain in her back between her shoulder blades. Her pediatric ortho has now referred her to a back specialist. Does anyone have any idea what could be going on or have any experience with such symptoms? Thanks!


  • The physical therapist said that she can feel the trigger points on both sides of her neck and shoulders when she is doing the massage. My daughter said that the ultrasound seems to help more than the massage.
  • Thank you, Paul. She has tried the TENS and it did nothing at all. They would set the unit at PT to over 20 before she could even feel anything and then it was just a pinching. We had a portable one and it would be at 30 and she could barely feel it at all. I tried it on my knee to see if it was actually working and it was working on me at 1.5. Yes Chiari 0 is a milder form of the malformation. According to the NS, Chiari 1 starts at 5 mm herniation and her's is 3-5 mm.
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  • The ultra sound may be helping your daughter because its relaxing the muscles in her neck a bit.i have ultra sound on my neck as well and it does relax the muscles.Does she ever put heat on her neck or any kind of muscle rubs? The pain that she's getting lower in her back below her shoulders could be just referred pain thats coming from all of her tightness higher up or it could be something else in her spine,probably what there thinking of sending her to the specialist.
  • Hi, Tammy. Yes, she uses a Thermal Pack and Myoflex for the pain and tightness. She can't stand to have cold applied to it at all. We found out a few months ago that one of her hips isn't fully developed (she now wears a shoe lift for it) and I'm wondering if maybe that can be causing the neck/upper back issues. She came home from school today hurting...neck, back, and head. She goes to the new orthopedist next week. Oh, and she has been invited to join the marching band..............
  • This is another one who has very similar problems to what I have, and the good news is that there is a simple treatment plan to follow.
    I have had remarkable success from my neck/ head/ shoulder chronic pains since starting on it.

    Assuming that we have the same problems:
    The very tight and sore neck muscles, and the upper shoulder pain, are caused by problems with the scapulae, or shoulder blades.
    The muscles attached to these probably have knots in them, causing them to contract, and then put undue tension on related muscles, such as those on either side of the neck.
    Very bad headaches can result, and pain killers don't do a lot.
    Muscle relaxants as well as pain meds can help, but only temporarily.

    The treatment that I follow and wholeheartedly recommend is really a holistic one, which looks at several aspects of treatment. Individually, they don't cure it, but when done together they have a profound effect.
    You may need to visit a clinical physio to draw up a suitable program, but here is a brief summary.
    Find a remedial massager who will gently find the affected muscles and gradually, over a few visits, tease out the knots and stretch the tight muscles in the shoulders. This should stop the neck pain very quickly.
    Continue with the massages as often as needed, perhaps weekly at the start, then 2 weeks, then longer.
    At the same time, do a gentle stretching and exercise routine 5 days out of 7.
    Mine is 5 mins on recumbent bike, 5 mins stretches, bike again, then 5 mins of exercises.
    Later on, 5 mins bike, rest, repeat.
    These are all low impact gentle routines that stretch and gradually strengthen the muscles.
    No drugs, no surgery, just results.
    This is the latest way to treat chronic pain, and I wish I'd done it years ago instead of wasting time on injections.
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