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Chronic neck and back pain, unexplained nerve symptoms--what next??

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Old 01-29-2012, 07:40 AM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2012
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cpar916 HB User
Chronic neck and back pain, unexplained nerve symptoms--what next??

Hi everyone--I injured my neck doing yoga about 5 months ago and am not sure what to do next to heal. Perhaps someone here has had similar experiences to mine.

I've had neck and back pain since injuring myself doing a headstand in yoga, sometimes very intense and sometimes low-level pain, with muscle spasms. I also have lots of nervous symptoms that come and go: numbness in my hands, feet and lips; muscle twitches throughout my body; strange sensations in my hands; dizzy spells (although these seem to have passed); lots of headaches (although I have a lot of headaches anyway).

I have had every test in the book and they have all been normal: MRIs of head, neck and spine; EEG; EMG and nerve study; xrays; full blood tests; ultrasounds of heart and carotid artery. My neurologist thinks the nerve symptoms could be a strange new form of headacheless migraine (I have a history of migraines), and a recent doctor just thinks pain is triggering all sorts of strange sensations. A chiropractors thinks perhaps a vertebrae in my neck is rotated.

I've tried physical therapy, which didn't work, and have been doing acupuncture, which isn't helping either. My acupuncturist is a chiropractor but when he does even very gentle manipulations it triggers severe pain for a week. I'm also doing neck and back PT exercises twice a day. The pain is worse after exercise--I have stopped exercise for weeks at a time, then switched to low impact walking or exercise bike, but even these cause pain. I also wake up frequently with headaches. Perhaps I should stop exercising but most of my doctors have told me they don't see any reason why I can't exercise, and that it's important for my mental health. I go nuts when I don't exercise at all.

Does anyone have advice on where to go next? I've been given tons of suggestions: cranial sacral therapy, orthopedist, oesteopathic medicine. I just started massage therapy and the first session was great but don't know if this will work in the long term. I'm getting very frustrated with this stubborn injury!

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!!

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Old 01-29-2012, 01:11 PM   #2
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Re: Chronic neck and back pain, unexplained nerve symptoms--what next??

Welcome to the board.

I know how frustrating it is to have a mystery ailment that no one seems to be able to diagnose or figure out. Did you happen to see the article in NYT about a week or two ago on the dangers of yoga, and how many people are suffering injuries, particularly from head and shoulder stands? I guess you might fit into their data.

You mention seeing many different practioners, but you do not specifically mention seeing a spine specialist. Have you consulted with a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon -- someone who limits the practice to issues of the back and neck? If not, I think a consultation is in order.

A neurologist is good at diagnosing diseases that pertain to the nerves and performing tests on nerve functions, but is not trained to provide a diagnosis of an issue pertaining to soft tissue, or bone within the spine.

If you have seen a spine specialist and he/she cannot find any reason for your pain, I would suggest consulting with a sports medicine specialist (which is an ortho with a special fellowship in sports medicine).

It certainly sounds like you have some sort of nerve compression or irritation going on. I can tell you that once a nerve is irritated, very little activity can keep the area inflamed, resulting in further irritation to the nerve. It can be very difficult to break this cycle and it can go on for months and months...or until the cycle is somehow broken and the nerve has sufficient time to heal without further irritation.

It may be that your posture or structural alignment has changed due to compensating for the initial pain from the injury. It may be that a vertebra or cartilege was crunched just enough to very slightly pinch a nerve...and while it is irritated and causing symptoms, the damage is not enough to show up on an EMG.

I would think, for now, you should think about walking for your form of exercise. You do need to keep some level of activity going, and walking is the most benign form of activity for your discs and spine in general.

I would keep icing the back of your neck in case there is still some inflammation, and it may help with the pain.

I'm sure there is someone out there who can figure out what is causing your pain. It is a matter of connecting with that person.

Please keep looking...and let us know how you are doing.

Old 01-30-2012, 02:33 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Washington DC
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cpar916 HB User
Re: Chronic neck and back pain, unexplained nerve symptoms--what next??

Thanks so much for your suggestion and encouragement--I just made an appointment with an orthopedic spine specialist. Yes, I did read the NYTimes article and wish I would have seen it before my injury! I practiced yoga for 10 years without incident but something in my neck must have been off that day.

If anyone else has had similar experiences I would appreciate your input--thanks!!

Old 01-30-2012, 03:01 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: washington nc usa
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alida1234 HB User
Re: Chronic neck and back pain, unexplained nerve symptoms--what next??

I also hurt my back.doing yoga..,had to have back surgery...good luck!

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