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Old 01-05-2010, 09:18 PM   #1
Scott M Henderson
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Neck injury

In December 2007 I injured my neck doing some striking drills. I believe it happened while my head was tilted back (chin up). At first I was just sore but over time it really knotted up at my C6-C7. I took some time off of weight training but then decided to “power through” it and will doing clean and jerks further injured it. It felt like something was torn around the C-6 /C-7.

So I took more time off but it never went away completely. It seems as if the best it gets is a dull ache in that spot. And then I will start to train again and it gets re-aggravated. The exercise that really aggravates it is if I press weight over head with both hands (keg presses, militaries, etc..). I have even tried really light weights (25 lb db’s) but that still fires it up.

I don't have any tingling down my arms but the pain does spread out towards my shoulders on the traps. But for the most part it is centralized right at the C-6. If I press on the C-6 it is painful.

I have tried massage, acupuncture, PT (although my PT was really lame), chiropractic, and traction. Ice, Ibuprofen, and not working out with weights are the only thing that seems to keep it manageable.


I just had a MRI and got the following from my DR: "MRI revealed: 'At C5-6 and C6-7 there are mild disk degenerative changes (including a tiny central disk protrusion at C6-7). No nerve root compression or impingement detected."

The impression the DR left me with was that was all that could be done. I feel my “condition” is unacceptable and there has to be an answer.

Has anyone else had something similar? Any suggestions? What about a steroid injection in that area?

Some quick background that might help. I am a 41 year old male with a long drug free bodybuilding, powerlifting, Crossfitting history. 5'10 / 185.

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:04 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Neck injury

You need a PT who is very good with manual therapy.

If there's not structural changes it is muscular.

Lots and lots of massage, and lots and lots of heat.

And rest. Lots of rest. STOP AGGRAVATING IT.
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:45 AM   #3
Helen Lawson
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Re: Neck injury

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Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
You need a PT who is very good with manual therapy.

If there's not structural changes it is muscular.

Lots and lots of massage, and lots and lots of heat.

And rest. Lots of rest. STOP AGGRAVATING IT.
I have a similar situation: I've had severe neck pain (with accompanied shoulder, chest & arm pain & numbness) for 12 weeks with no known cause. Physical therapy for 4 weeks (not much massage), 1 massage ~ weekly, chiropractor weekly. X-Rays showed minor straightening (which i've known from an x-ray 10 years ago.) MRI shows very minor 'age related degeneration' (I'm 41 - very old!)

Pain is ~ 50% improved since it started but still bothersome almost every minute of every day. Better while working out, applying heat or getting massage but comes back within 1 hour after.

The physical therapist i went to said 'Never do overhead press or handstands' and 'Only do pull-ups with 100+ lbs assistance' (I weigh ~130). So, she is not a very good source of information.

I have been doing very limited & light weight deadlifts, push-ups, bench press, dips, american kb swing & pull-ups for ~ the past 2 weeks. I tried overhead press once and was very weak. I have not done any tuck sits, ohs, cleans, snatches, sdlhp, handstands, etc... since the pain started.

My questions are: At what point should i start adding upper body work back into my workouts? Do i wait until the pain is totally gone?

Thanks for any input.
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:00 PM   #4
Brad Davis
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Re: Neck injury

I'll be very interested to see how your situation turns out and what you learn because I have a very similar problem. Years ago, I had four concussions playing HS sports and I have a degenerating cervical disc. Mine's almost always a dull ache and I get tingling on my left hand and arm if I hold my neck certain ways for very long.

I saw an orthopedic surgeon back in March and he told me I am now retired from anything that loads that disc. Deadlifts, squats, cleans, snatches, overhead press, etc. He said that it will get worse. It's just a matter of how fast. If I speed up the wear and tear, I'll be very sorry according to him.

Now that's what the first MD said. I have located who I think is the most "lifter friendly" orthopedic surgeon in our city and am going to see him next month to see if his opinion is the same.

As an aside, I also have a degenerative eye nerve problem stemming from those concussions. Causes occasional double vision. My eye MD told me that I have a better than 50/50 chance at permanent double vision at some point. No way I'm letting any of my kids play any sport that has a decent chance of concussion. These problems are just too serious and permanent. Not like pulling a hammy LOL. They also show up years later, so just because so-and-so boxer or whatever has been KOed a few times and looks fine means nothing. My ophthalmologist said he sees problems like mine on a regular basis.

Last edited by Brad Davis; 06-18-2010 at 09:03 PM..
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:53 PM   #5
Steven Low
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Re: Neck injury

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Lawson View Post
I have a similar situation: I've had severe neck pain (with accompanied shoulder, chest & arm pain & numbness) for 12 weeks with no known cause. Physical therapy for 4 weeks (not much massage), 1 massage ~ weekly, chiropractor weekly. X-Rays showed minor straightening (which i've known from an x-ray 10 years ago.) MRI shows very minor 'age related degeneration' (I'm 41 - very old!)

Pain is ~ 50% improved since it started but still bothersome almost every minute of every day. Better while working out, applying heat or getting massage but comes back within 1 hour after.

The physical therapist i went to said 'Never do overhead press or handstands' and 'Only do pull-ups with 100+ lbs assistance' (I weigh ~130). So, she is not a very good source of information.

I have been doing very limited & light weight deadlifts, push-ups, bench press, dips, american kb swing & pull-ups for ~ the past 2 weeks. I tried overhead press once and was very weak. I have not done any tuck sits, ohs, cleans, snatches, sdlhp, handstands, etc... since the pain started.

My questions are: At what point should i start adding upper body work back into my workouts? Do i wait until the pain is totally gone?

Thanks for any input.
Find a new physical therapist.

Yours sounds poor.
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Old 06-19-2010, 05:50 AM   #6
Brad Davis
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Re: Neck injury

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Lawson View Post
I have a similar situation: I've had severe neck pain (with accompanied shoulder, chest & arm pain & numbness) for 12 weeks with no known cause. Physical therapy for 4 weeks (not much massage), 1 massage ~ weekly, chiropractor weekly. X-Rays showed minor straightening (which i've known from an x-ray 10 years ago.) MRI shows very minor 'age related degeneration' (I'm 41 - very old!)
....
I'm a little confused. Does the MD think the degeneration is causing the pain? I thought Step 1 was to get a solid handle on exactly what's causing the problem and then come up with a plan. At least that's been the process for the 4-5 injuries I've had in the last few years. From your description, it seems like they don't really know what's up and just went into PT. I'm no PT expert, but to come up with a good plan, don't they have to first know exactly what's wrong?
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Old 06-19-2010, 08:07 AM   #7
Helen Lawson
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Re: Neck injury

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Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
Find a new physical therapist.

Yours sounds poor.
Yeah I agree...however.... at $35 a visit to all these doctors & $80 for massage, i've spent well over $2,000 and still have pain and no answers. I'm taking a break from giving people free $ for a while...my pockets are empty!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Davis View Post
I'm a little confused. Does the MD think the degeneration is causing the pain? I thought Step 1 was to get a solid handle on exactly what's causing the problem and then come up with a plan. At least that's been the process for the 4-5 injuries I've had in the last few years. From your description, it seems like they don't really know what's up and just went into PT. I'm no PT expert, but to come up with a good plan, don't they have to first know exactly what's wrong?
Yup, your right, nobody has told me whats causing it. The only diagnosis i've gotten is 'cervical radiculopathy' (sp?) which from what i've read means 'neck pain'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Davis View Post
I have located who I think is the most "lifter friendly" orthopedic surgeon in our city and am going to see him next month to see if his opinion is the same.
I'd like to know what he says about 'loading the disk'. My theory is usually that if you can strengthen the muslcles around the area it can only help.
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Old 06-19-2010, 01:18 PM   #8
Steven Low
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Re: Neck injury

If your chiro and PT both aren't doing much.... and it's really the massage that are helping you really need to find a new health professionals to work with.

The fact that the massage helps, at least temporarily, shows there is a problem that can be fixed for the most part. You just need a professional who can DO that. Also, the fact that your MRI shows only a little age related degeneration means it likely is a soft tissue problem that CAN be fixed.

I don't know how much your exercise is playing a role in actually helping or hurting, but it may be a good idea to take a break from that for a while and see if it improves. At least, get your form checked or something as well. Improper head positioning in a lot of exercises like squats/DL/pullups/etc. can mess with your spinal nerves and/or muscles.

As I said, if your professionals SUCK then get new ones. No need to keep busting your butt going to people who aren't helping you. Hell, if I was your therapist and I wasn't able to help you effectively I'd try to refer you to someone else who can.
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Last edited by Steven Low; 06-19-2010 at 01:20 PM..
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Old 06-19-2010, 02:12 PM   #9
Brad Davis
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Re: Neck injury

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Originally Posted by Helen Lawson View Post
...I'd like to know what he says about 'loading the disk'. My theory is usually that if you can strengthen the muslcles around the area it can only help.
I'll report back when I know more.

I think your theory is right about the lower back. For the back, strengthening the muscles helps to hold the spine in a more favorable position under load, so the disc doesn't get hammered as much during those lifts and during everyday life. I think the neck is different. Deadlifts, squats, etc. don't strengthen the neck very much. Even if the neck muscles are strengthened, so what? It doesn't take a lot of neck strength to hold it in the best position to resist load. Also, even if the neck is held in its best position, the disc is still taking a lot of axial stress--whatever load is being supported by the traps divided by the area which is pretty small.

From what I've read about these problems, I'm not very optimistic about what I'll be told at my second opinion. However, I've lifted weights for many years, including competitive powerlifting, and I don't give up without knowing there's no other way. Sometimes, an activity really is over. That's life. (crossing my fingers that's not the case for anybody here, or for me)

Last edited by Brad Davis; 06-19-2010 at 02:14 PM..
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Old 06-19-2010, 02:39 PM   #10
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Re: Neck injury

I forgot to type something else that might be helpful or informative at least. I asked Mark Rippetoe about this after my first MD appt. He recommended to keep lifting and use chiropractic care to try and help keep the disc as happy as possible. However, he did say that discs don't get better and it is likely that the disc will go downhill and require fusion at some point even with chiropractic care. Rip had a fusion at 43 for this exact kind of situation. I haven't decided if it's the right thing for me personally go ahead and lift whatever I want, basically planning a fusion at some point. Whether that's smart is up to debate. I'm sure the first MD would want to stamp "idiot" on my forehead if I went that route. Fusion is pretty major stuff, not like many of the other surgeries people talk about having commonly--knees, shoulders, etc. We're talking about the cervical spine...

Last edited by Brad Davis; 06-19-2010 at 02:41 PM..
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