Last July I woke up in pain. That sort of neck pain where you can’t really lift your head out of bed without grabbing a handful of hair and yanking skyward. I figured it was either from sleeping wrong or from a muscle pull thanks to the kids always using my body as their own personal jungle gym and gave the doctor a call for some pain meds and a muscle relaxant. They helped… for a few days.
After a while of this pain, it shifted into my left shoulder. Seemed to come sharply around my shoulder blade and down my arm until a month or so when my left thumb and forefinger began going numb and tingly. Now I was getting a bit concerned. Back to the doc’s.
After checking some neurological points and a few muscle tests the doc figured that I had a pinched C6 nerve. He showed me the map of the nervous system and how my pain followed a very well worn path from my neck, behind my shoulder, down my arm and terminating at my thumb and forefinger. OK… now what? 600mg of Ibuprofen three times a day was what. That and a group class on “Neck Education” in their physical therapy department. Also, he told me I needed to start rock climbing again… have you ever heard of doctor prescribed climbing? Awesome.
After a month or so of taking the Ibuprofen, the tingly feeling was minimal… and with a quick shift in posture it was gone…. fabulous. Then came Christmas and two weeks at home. I got a bit cocky and figured I didn’t need to keep taking all those damn Ibuprofen pills. Cut to New Year’s morning… ow ow ow ow… why is my neck so sore!?
Somehow, it was like it was starting over again. I had stopped taking the meds three times a day… maybe once or twice, and I never did the exercises I should have done. After a few weeks of pain, it was back to the doctor’s office. This time x-rays were ordered (not my x-ray at the top by the way, looks like someone wearing some sort of headgear) and I was referred to one on one physical therapy. Also, I now have to take 800mg of Ibuprofen three times a day, plus a muscle relaxant thrice daily as well. I had hoped for a treatment that didn’t involve ripping my stomach and kidneys to hell… but oh well.
I went to the physical therapy last week and discovered that my upper thoracic vertebrae were stiff as all hell and he popped a few of those around and I suddenly had more mobility in my neck than I have in months… plus I bought a foam roll to do all those exercises I didn’t do before and he specified what exactly will help me.
Final verdict…. I have mild narrowing between C5 and C6 with degenerative discs and mild arthritis. The combo of the meds and the foam roll exercises seem to be helping… for now at least. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not complaining… just sharing. My mom went through hell with bad discs so I’m not unfamiliar with the situation… but all I can think some days is that aging sucks.
Welcome to early middle age.
Wistfully falling to pieces,
Cornelius J. Blahg