Managing Neck Pain

A Plan to Get Back on Track

In mid-January I woke up one morning with neck pain as if I had slept poorly, I didn’t think much of it and went about my day.  10 days later, the pain was still there and now radiating down my arm and would land in my thumb and pointer finger as if my arm was falling asleep and headed towards numbness. I spent 10 weeks with the chiropractor, orthopedic doctor, pain management doc and physical therapist determining what the heck was wrong with me and how to fix it.

While I am a pretty good patient and follow doctor’s orders, I’m not very good at being patient. I am aggressive and have goals to meet and this neck thing has really slowed me down. I have spent 10 weeks in this condition, forcing me to change my life style and that’s about all the time I intend to spend like that. I had x-rays taken and an MRI to determine that I have a bulging disc in my C5 region of my spine which is putting pressure on my nerve causing the symptoms down my arm. Holy doctors’ appointments Batman! I go to the doctor more than my 70-year-old mother! After ruling out any type of injury (outside of falling on my head a couple of times while practicing hand stands), my orthopedic doc placed the blame on age and use. Not quite the cause I was hoping for as I approach 40 but, I do use the heck out of my body and I can’t stop time.



I think I finally got the docs attention when I went on a tangent about how I’m tired, can’t sleep, constantly in pain and now my family is paying for it because my patience and tolerance for anything and everything is barely existent. The PA’s eyes widened when my voice began to crack, I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. I left that appointment with a plan for recovery that did not include a scalpel. The plan: physical therapy, prescription pain killer (tramadol), a TEN’s unit and an appointment for an epidural pain relief. I’m in! feeling positive and that there is a light at the end of my tunnel. A 12 –week-ish program that should get me back on track, literally!

I went off the Ibuprofen immediately because you cannot get the epidural with any kind of blood thinners in your system. I attempted to pick up my prescription but it wasn’t ready. Fortunately, it was not ready. I say fortunate because Perry was out of town and until the next day when I did pick up the meds and consumed directly. Within 45 min I knew I was having a bad reaction to the tramadol. I text Perry right away, I knew he was up in the air but I needed him to see it as soon as he turned off airplane mode. My daughters were awesomely self-efficient and I managed to power through the next couple of hours until he got home. The following 12 hours were pretty awful, my body simply rejected the meds.

So now the doctor prescribes Cymbalta in an effort to relieve some of the nerve pain, physical and mental. The physical therapist backed up the orthopedic docs cause with educating me on the spinal disc make up and that the cartilaginous (outside) part of the disc starts to degenerate at the age of 25 and there is nothing we can do about it other than good posture (and now therapy) I’m going to physical therapy a lot! 5 times in the first week. I’ve been lectured on posture, given homework and had my neck stretched in a tracking unit. For twenty minutes every day I laid on a table with a stool under my knees and my head strapped into a contraption that would stretch my spine every 30 thirty second and release. Very strange, but oddly effective.



It was the hope that through physical therapy, we would be able to achieve enough pain relief and range of motion that I would cancel the epidural appointment but, it does not appear that we are making enough progress (and I am doing my homework) and to date it’s the docs opinion that it will be necessary. I had no idea that epidurals were used for anything other than child birth until now and what I remember about them is amazing! I never thought that I would be looking forward to a needle in my neck so much! 10 days and counting….

In the meantime, I am focusing on lower body exercise and running, my legs are gonna be ripped in 12 weeks! It’s leg day three times a week and a lot of cardio. It appears to be working pretty well, I just had a PR in Shamrock the half marathon in VB, 1:52:52 😉 I’m going to have to re-work my turning 40 Bad-Ass list until I’m fully functioning. That’s for the next bog…


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