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Neck tightening with exercise

Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 5:29 am
by Guest
Hello, I'm male 37 5'11 and 165lbs.
Here is my story. Two years ago I popped a couple of ribs out. One in my upper back and one in my middle back. I was just getting out of a chair and sort of sprung up and got twisted and bam heard a pop and oh the pain. I didn't realise what I had done, I thought I pulled a muscle, so waited it out a couple of months then one day I sneezed and the upper rib went back in (talk about relief). But was still suffering so went into the chiro and he said I have a rib out. He put it back in place and I passed out. When I came through I was totally zapped of all energy. All my muscles in my right side tightened up(the side of the rib) I continued to have the fainting spells for about a week. The chiro gave me exercises to help keep the rib in as well as stretch out my other muscles. I could hardly reach around to tuck my shirt in and could only bend over about half way (hard to put my shoes on). I did the exercises for about 3 months with some of the stretches helping. But the real problem was my neck tightened up something fierce, right from the top of the neck down through my shoulder blades. It would not let go, exercising seemed to make things worse. So I decided to quit all exercises except for some stretching and things got better very slowly to about 9 months later I felt pretty good. I also regained my strength or energy.
Then a few months later I tripped in the kitchen and fell backwards and landed against the cabinets and hit my head against it. I didn't think anything about it at the time but the next morning my neck was hurting bad and locked up. I went back to the chiro and he fixed it after a few sessions. But I kept waking up with another problem I would be pinching a spot in my upper back , it would be a red spot and irritated. Another trip to the chiro and fixed then another spot would reapear a vertabrea higher or lower. This went on for about 8 or 9 months sometimes I would go a couple of months pain free but It would show back up. So getting nowhere I decided to try anothe chiro and boy was that a mistake, he gave me a sacroilliac sprain, as well as doing a couple manuvers on my neck which resulted in my neck retightening as well as the rest of my right side and now some of my left side. I was hurting bad now and decided to go to the regular doctor. She took x-rays which came back normal with good disks, good blood. She said I have all muscle spasms in my back and gave me muscle relaxers and told me to go to physical therapy.
The physical therapist tested me and said I have very tight hamstrings and lower back, with a slight forward head. She pushed around the back and she located the rib that the chiro put in and I was very sensitive there. She said she couldn't believe it was that sensitive 2 years later, she said she barely touched it. I tested very weak when I reached out my arms and attempted to hold her from pushing them down or up.
I started out with neck stretches, upper thoracic stretch, upper trap, levator scapula stretch, shoulder rolls, shoulder blade pinches, single knee to chest, lower trunk rotation, hamstring stretches, mid back stretch(where you get on your knees and have your buttocks on your ankles and you stretch your arms out to the floor infront of you). To note how tight my back is I could only stretch my hands out to my knees before feeling a very good stretch all across my back.Did arm work on the overhead pulley sitting in a chair then the bike with arms moving (no leg work) I should note before exercising they put heat on my back and it really relaxed my neck before I started. I started doing some wall pushups as well as some arm rows with 4lb weight ten sets. As well as 5lb arm curls regular and then thumbs up ten sets. It is now where I'm starting to notice my neck tightening. They hold things there for a few days then they test me. I took a 1 pound weight in each hand and extended my arms straight out in front of my chest. 10 sets and then over my head 10 sets. Both of these exercises tightened my neck very quickly. They ceased these and returned to the regular routine except now adding the rows to 20 sets and arm curls to 20 sets, after doing these my neck starts to tighten.
I only have a couple therepy sessions left and have asked them if they know why my neck is tightening up with the exercises and they do not know. It just seems like it's a slow progressing as the more work I do with the arms the tighter the neck will get. I do know those particular exercises extending and overhead get to me fast. How do I strengthen that part of me if it agitates my neck muscles? Do I do them anyway and then try to relax my neck muscles with heat when I'm done, sometimes I can't get them back relaxed for a day or so. Could I be hitting some nerve causing those muscles to tighten (would it show on an MRI) ?
I have downloaded your rebuild your back and neck books, and have incorporated your exercises into my program of physical therapy.
I am going back to see my doctor next week to see what she says. If
you guys know of any way I could be helped I would be gratefull. Should I continue with the exercises and how long do you think it will take to get those neck muscles to relax? Should I see a massage therapist? My sacroilliac sprain is finally getting better allthough it still bothers me when I sit, carry things and walk fast.

Starting to get desperate. Chris

Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 8:47 am
by randolph
Hi Chris

I'm gathering from reading your story that the injuries from the latest chiro manipulations are fairly recent, as is evidenced from the muscle spasms you're stilling having, and the early onset of muscle tightening from light activity. You're right to focus on those spasms, as there's not much you can do until they relax. During the acute stages of my injuries, there was precious little I could do while the muscles were still abnormally tense, but stretch a bit, and do daily, necessary activity. In my case, the muscles relaxed back to normal within a month, then I was able to resume exercising, gradually. Before then, exercising just hurt too much.

I would think the physician you're seeing soon should be able to give you good info on the possibility of nerve damage, and how helpful a MRI would be in revealing that possibility. I'm always flabberghasted at how very much my GP reveals in answer to my questions.

I tried massage a couple times ... which felt good at the time, but there was no residual help from it. The masseuse claimed: to be effective, massage must be done frequently over a long period of time. Maybe so ... but $$$!!! Yikes. Maybe you've a friend who can massage you for next to nothing?? Might be worth a try. It certainly feels good while it's happening.

It's been a year and a half since the onset of my sciatica, and I'm virtually pain-free (very infrequent random pains of no consequence or duration) ... but I'm still not quite as flexible as I was before. Still doing lots of stretches to help my tight hammies, but slow steady progress. Don't know why it's taking some muscles so long to get back to normal, but glad to see the steady improvement.

As I encourage anybody experiencing chronic pain (long after any physical injury, that initiated the pain, should have healed), check out Dr. John Sarno's tension myositis syndrome diagnosis (see wikipedia summary). Chronic pain frequently has a psychosomatic foundation, which all the PT, surgery, etc. in the world is not going to help.

Randolph

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:55 am
by nohands12
Thanks for the reply Randolph,

You may be correct in the only thing I can do is the stretches as they don't tighten my neck muscle and allow me to stretch out my other muscles. I have to work and yes later in the day my neck will tighten up, sometimes earlier sometimes later in the day. I just need to get on the heat when I get home and relax them back down. Hopefully soon they will stay relaxed. I just hope it doesn't take 6 to 9 months like the last time two years ago when I broke that rib out.
On a side note I'm trying out the cobra exercise and I can get on my elbows and only feel a little pain or stretch in the lower back, but it makes my neck muscle to tighten, should I keep doing it daily and try to progress and then hit the heat to relax the neck or should I slow down and wait until I can do it and not tighten the neck muscle?

Chris