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chronic neck pain but MRI and xrays shows nothing

edited 06/11/2012 - 7:44 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello! I have had 2 car accidents since 2000, and i have had neck issues since the first one. I experience discomfort daily and it always feels like my head is too heavy for my neck if you know what I mean. Its just something I have learned to live with but I am in pain daily. The mri showed inflammation but I wouldnt think thats enough to cause this type of daily pain. I have tried chiropractors and other types of treatment such as physical therapy but nothing seems to help. The only time I have felt relief is from pain meds, but its only temporary relief. Is this something I will have to live with or is there anything that can help? anyone have similar pain?


  • Hi,

    Welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and be sure to check out the literature as well. How long ago was your MRI? Did you get a copy of the MRI report itself? You may want to look into message therapy sometimes you can develop trigger points and this can help with it. Have you tried any types of muscles relaxers, or ten's unit. If it is inflammation what about steroids or anti-inflammatory. Also there are many here who have had good luck with accupuncture. Keep working with your doctor and let them know what is helping and what is not. Also you might want to keep a journal on the pain. Find the things that make it better and the things that make worse and at what time of the day the pain is worse. Also I have been trying a combination of ice on the back of my neck and heat on the front side to help with the pain.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If I can do anything for you don't hesitate to pm me. Take care.
  • Pain meds may help, but don't get to the cause.
    Inflammation causes swelling which can then irritate the surrounding nerves, and the muscles.
    The head is supported by strong neck muscles which are joined to the back muscles, and when those back muscles get tight they pull down on the neck muscles, giving you a sore neck, and probably headache.
    You will likely find that the culprit is not the neck, but the back.
    General neglect of our muscles as we age (we are all guilty!) leaves them weakened, and possibly knotted, so much so that they can no longer do their work.
    You need to get your muscles looked at and treated, and I'm sure you will obtain immediate relief.
    Look for remedial or sports massage.
    Think about on-going maintenance of this type to prevent a re-occurrence.
    Pay attention also to posture and how you hold your head.
    Avoid laptops!!!
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  • Greetings and Welcome to Spine-Health!! What did your doctor tell you about the MRI findings? Some people can have huge herniations and no pain, whilst others have "tiny" hernias and are in a great deal of pain! How long ago was your MRI?

    I have no curve in my neck and as such if I have an MRI via recumbent (laying down), NOTHING significant shows, when I get the MRI via a positional (stand up) the hernia's showed bigger than stink! Some folks think the quality of the images aren't as good, but my NS and I compared them side by side, and there was no discernible difference! Stand ups also allow a doctor to see your spine under load! Just an option that maybe you can ask for from your GP or Neuro.

    Has your doctor advised of some options to give you some relief - PT, muscle relaxers, massage? Please keep us posted on how it goes. Sorry to hear you are in pain. Support *HUG* to ya, and again Welcome!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I almost fell off my chair when I read your post because I thought I must have written it and forgotten! FINALLY I heard another person with my description of the pain...that the head is too heavy for the neck to hold up. Do you also find that there is NO positioning your head to give it some rest? Has the pain accelerated in the past two years? My MRI of the neck found 4 bulging discs and I went to a neurosurgeon only to have him tell me that he sees nothing abnormal or any impingement on my cervical nerves because of this. When I told him about my head being to heavy, he just looked at me with a blank face.
    I was so disappointed with no solution or should I say explaination after all this time. I tried the cervical facet joint injections which did not work at all. So they recommended an epidural shot, which I went for, no complaints. When the epidural didn't work they tried to schedule me for two more epidurals two weeks apart. I shook my head 'no' and told them the shots were not going to work, so my PM referred me to the neurosurgeon that didn't have a diagnosis. Today I had xrays in several positions of my neck. Now on Thurs. I have an MRI on my brain scheduled, but to tell you the truth I have run out of gas looking for someone to help me or at lease understand what I am saying about this affliction of the past 2 1/2 yrs. How could I have 4 bulging discs in that little neck and HAVE NO EXPLANATION?
  • Sorry to hear about your neck pain. How recent is your MRI? I had severe whiplash, cause unknown and I took a muscle relaxant valium for 9 months and also had Physio with ultrasound to help. This was 20 years ago. I hope your Dr. will be able to help you with this pain. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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  • I learned in PT (the part when they worked on my neck) that my head most likely feels heavy because of the way I'm holding it, the way the muscles are when I'm standing or sitting without resting my head. For some reason, I tend to hold my head forward (I can't even notice it) which puts a lot of pressure on the muscles and makes my head feel like a bowling ball.

    PT can teach you how to hold your body, shoulders, neck, upper back, to keep the least amount of stress on those muscles and have them align properly to relieve the heaviness.

    In my case, I have the additional problem of my head weighing more because of the plate and screws, but having a professional work on those muscles (i.e. PT) might be what you need to get some relief.

  • As Cath has put it so well, you must get the muscles treated.
    My physio told me that every patient that comes in has a sore neck, so it is extremely common and usually muscular in origin.
    Soft tissue damage won't show up on any MRI or X-ray, but a physio will likely immediately spot any sore muscles.
    They just look at my back or touch it, and they can tell what is wrong.
    And it's the back muscles that cause a sore neck.
  • I have been suffering this for the last 15yrs. A physio told me that there is a muscle running up the middle of my neck that has lost total function. I was told that my shoulder muscles have been doing all the work and therefore they are overloaded. My surgeon has said that it would be near impossible to get the particular muscle to work again, as it's been too many years. I had spinal fusion C5-C6 in 2001. Good old Centrelink here in Australia downgraded my incapacity to work. So now they are trying to force me to get a job.It aint goi ng to happen. I too live with pain, all day everyday. I don't see any relief in the future. I've tried massages and acupuncture. They are all short term relief. Sometimes only for 20 minutes. It seams that anytime I try to do some exercises on it, I end up in so much pain that I can't do anything for days. I wish there was a way I could just chop my head off and carry it in my arm. The pain can be quite persistent and unbearably. A real pain in the neck. 

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    Hello mattyj......
    This is an older thread, ..since 2010.
    May I please suggest that you start your own..New Discussion..thread...?
    More members will see you there, with  New Discussion....and more likely be able to respond with shared experiences.
    Thank you...
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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