Relapsing, Repeating Neck Pain
March 27, 2013 7:25 AM   Subscribe

In 1999, I rode the Rockin' Roller Coaster at Disney in Orlando. The first thing they tell you on the ride is to keep your head back. I'm a certified idiot, and didn't pay attention, and on the first looping curve, my head was forward. A sudden jerk to the right, and I pull a muscle in my neck.

The complication here is that this is what my doctor has determined, since then, is a "deep tissue" tear. It's not subject to massage therapy, heat application, or any surface treatments that might typically relax the muscle. It's connected to a lot of nerve endings, so it's a lot of pain. I tend to feel it all the way from the base of my jaw to the end of my shoulder. Sometimes, I can't even move my neck in relation to my shoulders, and I end up robot-ing my way through life while it's flared.

Luckily, it only flares up once a year or so, and the flare only lasts about 2 weeks. The doctor typically prescribes a muscle relaxant and about 600mg of Ibuprofen for the pain.

Now, while this solution typically works, I'd like to try and treat the problem, and not just the symptoms. I'm thinking a specific exercise regimine might help me, or a change in diet to enhance muscle strength or flexibility (i.e. bananas for everyone!), or something of that nature. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I'm not seeking an alternative medicine or "natural" solution. I find snake oil personally offensive.
posted by thanotopsis to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may have tried this already, but if not: Have you asked your doctor to recommend something to treat the problem (other than muscle relaxants)? They probably have a better idea of the specifics. If they're not willing or able to go beyond muscle relaxants for this, you could also get a referral to an orthopedist or sports medicine doc.

If you're looking for a specific exercise regimine, a physical therapist would be the way to go -- your doctor can give you a referral. A PT will come up with something designed for you, which would probably be much more helpful than the general advice people on the internet can give you.
posted by pie ninja at 7:40 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I had luck with a deep muscle tear (soleus, so not the same location) when I visited a sports medicine specialist. He used the Graston technique to 'smooth' the knots in the muscle, and then a class 4 laser to promote healing. Took several visits, but I'm 100% these days.
posted by tigerjade at 7:41 AM on March 27, 2013

How strong is your back? Shoulders? Traps? I found rock climbing/bouldering really strengthened those areas - and helped relieve the general neck pain that I had. So maybe an exercise regime targeting those areas would be worth looking into?
posted by backwards guitar at 7:41 AM on March 27, 2013

Seconding a sports medicine doctor. This is what they do.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:13 AM on March 27, 2013

I'm going to second seeing a physical therapist. As a personal anecdote more for illustrative than diagnostic purposes: I had a similar issue which a PT diagnosed as inflexible vertabrae in my neck and upper back. She was able to explain why massage felt nice but didn't actually provide relief: This was a muscle attachment issue, not a muscle issue. She recommended regular rolling on a foam roller, pausing at each vertebra to increase flexibility. It's been well over a year and I haven't had a recurrence since.
posted by funkiwan at 9:36 PM on March 27, 2013

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