Neck and Shoulders.

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Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sat 23 May, 2020 12:05 pm

4 days ago I awoke with a sharp pain in my neck. The sort of knot you get when you've slept badly. No big deal. I went to work and the pain stayed with me for the day but didnt get any worse. After another night tossing and turning I was annoyed to find the pain was still there, but no worse. That evening after another day at work i felt the pain level starting to increase and spread from my upper neck to my left shoulder. It began to feel like someone was shoving a machete through my shoulder and when I sat up the pain in my neck was excruciating.

An early morning run to the hospital resulted in lots of poking and prodding and some X-rays which revealed nothing abnormal. It's a 2 hour trip from where I live to the nearest facility for MRI's so the advice was to go home and munch some pain killers for a while and see what eventuated. It was all a bit of a mystery because i cant recall any recent trauma or accidents. Even with pain killers the pain level is through the roof. Laying in bed in an Ibufrofen induced fog I began to recall that on the final day of my last 8 day bush walk I had begun to feel a sharp niggling pain in my neck and left shoulder. I finished the walk with the left strap of my backpack loosened off so 90 % of the weight was on my right shoulder. The pain went away over the next few days as I suspected it would and I didnt think anymore about it. That was back in January and I havent had any issues since but havent done any extended walks with a heavy pack either.
I'm off for an MRI scan first thing on Monday morning as the pain I'm suffering is showing no signs of subsiding.

Even though the first minor incident was back in January I convinced it was a warning of worse things to come that I failed to recognize.

Just wondering if anyone out there has suffered similar episodes and what the result was ?

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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby north-north-west » Sat 23 May, 2020 1:07 pm

Most likely a pinched nerve or something of that nature. I've had a similar issue, albeit somewhat milder, but that was whiplash from being rear-ended.
Is there also any partial numbness or tingling in the hands?
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sat 23 May, 2020 1:27 pm

No tingling or numbness. The Doctor I saw was a bit confused by this.
Just wondering what bought it all on so suddenly when I sitting down resting ??
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby north-north-west » Sat 23 May, 2020 1:49 pm

Interesting, but not necessarily indicative. Spines are complicated things. Could be that it's reacted like any other injury and you didn't notice while you were keeping up the same level of activity, but then you got back, dumped the gear and went back to a lower level and/or different style. Or perhaps just happened to sit/lie in a position that exacerbated it. There are certain angles I can't hold my head at for any length of time without all sorts of problems, due to the damage in the neck.

At this stage all you can really do is try to relax and wait for a definite diagnosis - assuming you can get one. Spinal issues can be very difficult to pin down.
Hope it gets sorted.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Neo » Sat 23 May, 2020 8:45 pm

About a month ago i had a sharp pain. Not a neck joint or the shoulder but a line in between. Similar to what you describe.

Resolved itself after a few days luckily! No reason.

I suggest seeing a young physiotherapist when it is hurting. MRI is probably overkill.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 23 May, 2020 9:05 pm

Good luck tho, I actually like MRIs; I find them extremely relaxing.
Also better pain relief than panadol and aspirin combined
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Eremophila » Sun 24 May, 2020 6:48 am

I have compressed nerves in my neck; partly due to congenital issues (fused vertebrae) and partly due to wear & tear.

The condition went rather pear-shaped almost 2 years ago, turning to agony literally overnight. I woke up one morning in a world of pain. MRI showed the impingement.

Clinical pilates has been a life saver. Remedial massage helps with the resulting muscular issues. Staying fit and active overall is the key, and some simple adjustments at my desk-based job have also made a huge difference.

If your GP is interpreting the MRI results and you're not satisfied with the outcome, perhaps seek a referral to a sports medicine facility. With no disrespect intended here, GPs will often recommend "rest" and avoidance of any activity which might provoke flare-ups.

One further "lifestyle adjustment" for me and probably not relevant for Mechanic-Al - when having my colour rinsed at the hairdresser, I stand and lean forward over the bowl, rather than uncomfortably straining my neck backwards. A small thing but I believe it avoids unnecessary exacerbation of the condition.

Edit: a short initial course of Prednisolone provided crucial pain relief but was rather rough, I gave it up prior to the prescribed 15 days. I have the remaining tablets for absolute emergencies. At the time we had some Endone at home which I took on a number of occasions - it made me sleep wonderfully but didn't fully relieve the pain.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Neo » Sun 24 May, 2020 11:12 am

Moondog55 wrote:Good luck tho, I actually like MRIs; I find them extremely relaxing.
Also better pain relief than panadol and aspirin combined

Poor choice of words by me. Every angle is worth investigating.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 24 May, 2020 11:30 am

If this had of occurred out in the bush without any nearby help I would be on the button calling the big yellow taxi because there is no way I could continue on.
I would not feel comfortable walking off into the bush again if this resolved itself and I had no idea of what caused it or if it's likely to happen again.
A relaxing MRI sounds good.

My hair colour seems to be changing (from black to grey) quite happily all by itself but it reassuring to know the procedure in advance if every Im looking for a more user friendly shade........thanks Eremophila !!
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Eremophila » Mon 25 May, 2020 2:11 pm

You're most welcome MA. :lol:

I will add that "rest" is THE worst enemy for me. Lack of movement and exercise brings a return of symptoms very swiftly.

I've also learned some simple but very effective exercises from Pilates, using therabands and loops, which go a long way towards improving things.

The guy I saw at Olympic Park Sports Med, told me there was approximately a 6-month window in which to address the issue, otherwise I'd be looking at cortisone injections and then possibly surgery further down the track, not a happy future. That was certainly a good incentive.

Out of interest, what kind of work do you do?
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Mon 25 May, 2020 4:38 pm

Sorry bout the delaying replying,
last night we ( WA ) got hit by the mother of all storms, trees down, roofs ripped off, no power for the last 16 hours.........and it seems as though our fridge motor somehow got cooked in all the excitement :(
But I digress. Where was I ? Oh yeah, my pain in the neck !!!!

Eremophila wrote:
Out of interest, what kind of work do you do?


I am a HD Mechanic working on an array of trucks and earth moving equipment. Started back in the days when getting the job done was far more important than any safety concerns. Definitely not good grounds for healthy spinal care.

An idea how long it should take to notice some incremental improvement if something of this nature looked like resolving itself ?
On my 6th day of munching pain killers ( which have just been upgraded to something way more fun :shock: :lol: :shock: :lol: :lol: ) and no discernable improvements.
Was off to have an MRI today but storm damage on roads has delayed that for another 24hrs.

Not real keen on replacing everything with UL gear and way to early to stop long trips into the bush.................... :(
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Echidna not » Mon 25 May, 2020 8:01 pm

Have you considered getting a deep muscle massage ? Voltarin ? Hot and cold pack? Try to get someone to give you a massage on the aching area with voltarin , if that relieves some pain , try using a trigger point ball. Do a google search on trigger point massage .
Good luck with it .
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Joynz » Mon 25 May, 2020 8:34 pm

I once woke up with a neck so painful I couldn’t get out of bed - excruciating. I went to emergency too, as it was a weekend. No actual issue was found, so it must have been the result of overuse or bad lifting etc (like most back or neck issues). It came right with physio, stretching etc

In the absence of any other diagnosis, I suggest a good sports medicine clinic with physios who know their stuff. My sports physio clinic has different levels of experience and you definitely get the benefit of paying a bit extra to ramp up to a senior physio when required.

Be careful with the pain killers.

Dr Norman Swan on Radio National has had a few programs mentioning that heavy ‘pain killers‘ are not necessarily that effective for chronic pain relief (ironically) - and they can be very addictive!

If it turns to be pack /posture-related, then consider an Aarn body pack with a hip form belt and balance pockets because they completely remove any weight from your shoulders. With my Effortless Rhythym pack, there is a gap between my shoulder straps and the top of my shoulders - no pressure, no pain, no marks.

They also encourage you to stand upright (I use Pacer Poles too which help even more).
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Moondog55 » Mon 25 May, 2020 9:58 pm

Strong pain killers are great for temporary relief but I agree that in the long term they are very bad for you and I can attest to their addictiveness.
Took me a long time to kick the Endone from before and after the hip went on me The trouble being that more than 8 panadol a day is very bad for you and sometimes they only just take the edge off the pain.
Cecile also tells me I was a very different person when I was taking them twice daily and not always a nice/good one and I'm a cranky old bugger at the best of times
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Wed 03 Jun, 2020 3:43 pm

After quite a few days of severe pain I have finally received the results from an MRI and had a follow up consultation with my GP.
Not what I was hoping to hear but a diagnosis at last.
I have a degenerative disc between my C6 and C5 vertebrae. Spinal wear and tear causing pressure on nerves to my left arm.
It doesnt sound like I'm in un-chartered medical territory or anything but it's a huge wake up call when a part of your personal mechanism for transporting a backpack through the bush suddenly goes on the blink. My " Places to Go " list is still huge and the thought that any future adventures will be limited in any way is scary.

Some advice offered on this post has been very helpful so thank you.

Most importantly the warnings regarding painkillers.
It was explained to me how most painkillers simply block signals to the brain so even though you feel a degree of relief the pain hasnt really been dealt with. It hasnt taken too long munching on serious pain relief medication before things started getting pretty wonky. I have slipped one or two capsules more than prescribed down when the pain has become too much and probably would have gone overboard with it if the advice I've read here hadnt been ringing in my ears.

I hear everything you are saying Eremophila and appreciate your advice. Just wondering how much a fused vertebrae has impacted your bush walking activities ? Do you do any longish ( 7 or 8 day ) walks or off track trips and if so how does your spine pull up afterwards ?

I cant agree strongly enough with the advice that rest is evil ! The longer I sit or lay around the more the pain intensifies and even the gentlest movement is good pain relief. I would strongly warn against visiting a physio or anything else before getting a definitive diagnosis indicating that as a way forward though.

My battered old DMH Outdoors backpack has servered me well for over 20 years but is well past its use by date so the suggestion that I look at getting an Aarn pack is timely and well worth researching.

Im off to a specialist for advice next week and dont really know where this will lead. Just hope it wont curtail my chance to get out there and see a lot more of those places on my wish list.

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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Moondog55 » Wed 03 Jun, 2020 4:07 pm

All I can say is welcome to the club, mine also between T6 & T7.
Hard work never killed anybody but it does make old age a lot like hard work; but in my case probably falling off a bike at high speed and hitting the kerb hard
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby GregG » Wed 03 Jun, 2020 4:37 pm

You have my sympathy -AL. Several years ago I was told that I have a similar degenerative spinal disc problem ("carrying a bit of battle damage" the radiographer said) but nothing was done about it at the time because a more urgent medical problem needed to be dealt with. Luckily for me it seemed ro settle down after a while and I don't need painkillers most of the time except when I go on a multi-dayer which always calls for medication to be started in advance. I've often wondered if a too heavy or out of balabce backpack caused this problem when I was younger but went unnoticed
until it worsened with age. Theres no way of knowing I guess. Anyway, good luck wirh the Aarn pack as it seems like the best option for you because it directs the load downwards, unlike a conventional pack which has the load vector backwards and down. Whatever you don't stop getting out into the bush, it sounds like you are a fighter so keep it up.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Eremophila » Wed 03 Jun, 2020 9:03 pm

Cheers for the update MA. Sounds very similar to my condition, disc degeneration in the neck, can't remember offhand which vertebrae. The fused vertebrae are also in my neck. The impingement resulting from degeneration results in compressed nerves and pain down the arm, right-hand side in my case. Also the whole side area of my ribs/underarm/pectoral region is extremely tender to touch. Bit of tingling down the centre of my hand/middle finger when it's in bad shape, if I get to that stage now it's a real wake-up call to get off my butt and do something. At the worst stage it felt like there was a rod pushing up through my spine into the base of my brain. And my right arm was extremely weak and sometimes wobbly, like when you've had a huge day in the garden or something similar, and your arm is a little shaky and you can't do anything with it? I was driving one-handed for a while because it hurt too much to hold my right arm in front of me.

The longest I've walked is 5 days consecutive, aside from Nepal where I only carried a daypack and slept in lodges. Planning something slightly longer shortly when borders open. Like you I have many places still to be ticked off on my list.

Since changing to a better-fitting pack, my neck is generally the least of my worries while walking. Just have to avoid the temptation to push my head forward.

I have Mobic/Meloxicam anti-inflamms which I rarely take these days, unlike some others they can be taken in time of need only and you don't need to have a daily dose to feel any benefit. I find their effect extremely subtle, but they have no side-effects for me, don't "rot your gut" like some and are dirt cheap. They are also not bad for my arthritis!

If you opt for remedial massage, chances are the first one will be excruciating. But I can highly recommend it.

Look forward to hearing how you go with your specialist.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby crollsurf » Wed 03 Jun, 2020 10:18 pm

I fully sympathize with you MA, I have a C5C6 disc lesion and bone spurs. An old injury that came back to haunt you in the 40's which the medics seemed to be "oh well, you know" and I'm thinking, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OF THE PAIN I'M IN!!! Anyway after about 6 months I was a lot better, but it's still not right, never will be.

Probably the most painful part was the muscle spasms. What I still use occasionally and was really helpful at the time was this massager:
https://www.homedics.com.au/collections/handheld-massagers/products/percussion-massager-with-heat
I'd run it slowly up and down the neck either side of the neck-bones and then along the shoulder. There would similar out there but the weight in the head of the massager is needed to apply consistent pressure. Temporary relief for sure and doing it regularly, finally got rid of the muscle spasms and the pain.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 11:24 am

I have finally managed to get an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist and the importance of seeing somebody who really knows what they are talking about was driven home to me pretty quickly.
I sat in the waiting room with my left hand on top of my head as this is about the only position that gives me any comfort. Before the surgeon had even introduced himself he asked if having my arm up in the air was easing my pain. When I said it was he immediately said he doubted that I had any degenerative disc issues ( original diagnosis ).
After an examination he homed in on the pins and needles I had started to experience in my forearm and left thumb. Apparently the nerves connected to individual fingers are associated with separate vertebrae. Because I had numbness in my left thumb he knew the cause of my pain was in the C6 vertebrae and began a much more detailed examination of my MRI in that region.
His diagnosis was that I did have an impinged nerve in the c6 vertebrae but because the hole in the vertebrae that the nerve passes through had lots of small bone spurs the nerve was not getting a chance to settle down. The bone spurs by themselves were not big enough to require surgery and he felt that a series of nerve blocking injections ( cortesone ) could be the best treatment as the impinged nerve would most likely settle back to the position it was meant to be in if the aggravation from the bone spurs was not being felt.
Interestingly, I said I knew friends who had cortisone injections with no result at all an as such I was a bit sceptical about them. He told me that it is quite a skill to administer nerve blockers successfully and in his words "there are a few cowboys " out there. He believed that with correctly administered cortisone injections I had a good chance of a successful outcome. A full examination of the rest of my spine scan showed everything else is in good working order.
My 'Places To Go' list lives on... :D :D

If I can offer any advice from this it would be to check the credentials of the people you are dealing with.
If Id gone with the advice of my GP or possibly had cortisone administered by someone who wasnt particularly skilled in that department then things would be going from bad to worse.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 11:31 am

I would like to add that I have nothing but sympathy for anybody forced to live with spinal/nerve pain.
As bush walkers a healthy spine is probably our most valuable asset and needs to be looked after.

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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Eremophila » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 1:01 pm

Good news indeed MA! I hope the cortisone injections give you a good outcome.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby north-north-west » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 1:28 pm

That's terrific news. Hope he recommended someone who can do the injections properly.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 2:55 pm

Thank You.
It would seem that your initial diagnosis was correct NNW.
Not sure why there was a couple of days delay with numbness and pins and needles setting in but as you say spines are complex things.
The surgeon I visited gave me complete confidence in his ability.
He gave me detailed explanations of how and why he had diagnosed the problem and I have confidence he has sent me off to somebody competent with nerve blocking injections.
Now all I need is that Aarn Backpack ( which is looking like quite a complex operation in itself !! ).

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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby gayet » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 4:48 pm

Great news Al!

I know your pain, I have same issue of moderately severe narrowing on c5 , moderate on c6 and mild on c7.
I have avoided the cortisone and stuck with change of work practice (no 12 - 14 hour days at computer), use of muscle relaxants to reduce the strain on the neck and anti-inflammatory medication (meloxicam) as needed.
It took some time but problems are minimized and the pins and needles and numbness in 1 or both arms is no more.

I wish you all the best going forward.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby peregrinator » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 6:23 pm

Al, I’ve been following your story and feeling your anguish about the potential your condition may have on your ability to go bushwalking. So I was very pleased to read that an orthopaedic specialist was able to offer an informed diagnosis and give you cause to imagine you can keep on the track. I hope the procedure provides the required fix.

Can I ask you how the latest diagnosis came about? I am assuming from what you have written that your appointment with the specialist must have been organised by yourself after doing some research, rather than due to a referral from your GP. Is that correct? If so, how were you able to find where to go for further advice?

I hope that getting an Aarn won't be too complicated. But there's plenty of advice to be had from this forum if you want that sort of advice.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby jobell » Fri 12 Jun, 2020 7:17 pm

Damn this is a club I so didn't want to join! After varying back issues and neck pain that I have mostly ignored over the last few years (except for one very painful week after limping home post an excruciating night in the bush, complete with vertigo, may I never have that particular joy again!) I finally bit the bullet and had scans done last week. The doc rang me yesterday (I am liking this telehealth thing) and it turns out I have early signs of degeneration/osteoarthritis complete with a narrowing between...C5 and C6. Oh and T6 to T10 is looking pretty shabby too. Are we all just...ah hem...ageing or is this a bushwalker's curse?

Luckily I rock an Aarn pack! But I did buy an Osprey pack recently to try something different (and lighter); it's going to be sold on now though. My partner has a top notch physio who I shall be lining up to see myself now too. Whatever it takes to keep me walking...



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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sat 13 Jun, 2020 10:15 am

peregrinator wrote:
Can I ask you how the latest diagnosis came about? I am assuming from what you have written that your appointment with the specialist must have been organised by yourself after doing some research, rather than due to a referral from your GP. Is that correct? If so, how were you able to find where to go for further advice?.


the original referral was sent straight from my GP to the surgeon. I was told the surgery I was meant to attend would be in contact with me within 24 hours to book an appointment. As I had their number and hadn't heard from them in the time frame suggested I gave them a call. Despite having private health insurance and letting them know I was in extreme pain I was told they wouldn't be able to see me before the end of August !! I then asked who they suggested I might be able to see sooner.
They gave me 2 numbers to call. Before ringing either of these numbers I did a quick Facebook search of the surgeons suggested. This gave me some details to check the credentials of each of these surgeons ( hospitals they were associated with, years of practise and testimonials etc. ) Not ideal research material I guess but at least it gave me some idea of who I was dealing with. The surgeon I ended up seeing stood out considerably on paper from the other name I had been given and I'm pleased I didnt just ring the first number given to me.

I wish I could offer something more scientific Pereginator but any sort of background check on who you are seeing is better than nothing.
If you need to see someone I hope you find someone you are confident in.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby peregrinator » Sat 13 Jun, 2020 11:09 am

Thanks, Al, but I'm not in need of any treatment myself. I was just intrigued by the steps you had to take to get answers.
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Re: Neck and Shoulders.

Postby bigkev » Sat 13 Jun, 2020 4:31 pm

Mechanic-AL wrote:
peregrinator wrote:
Can I ask you how the latest diagnosis came about? I am assuming from what you have written that your appointment with the specialist must have been organised by yourself after doing some research, rather than due to a referral from your GP. Is that correct? If so, how were you able to find where to go for further advice?.


the original referral was sent straight from my GP to the surgeon. I was told the surgery I was meant to attend would be in contact with me within 24 hours to book an appointment. As I had their number and hadn't heard from them in the time frame suggested I gave them a call. Despite having private health insurance and letting them know I was in extreme pain I was told they wouldn't be able to see me before the end of August !! I then asked who they suggested I might be able to see sooner.
They gave me 2 numbers to call. Before ringing either of these numbers I did a quick Facebook search of the surgeons suggested. This gave me some details to check the credentials of each of these surgeons ( hospitals they were associated with, years of practise and testimonials etc. ) Not ideal research material I guess but at least it gave me some idea of who I was dealing with. The surgeon I ended up seeing stood out considerably on paper from the other name I had been given and I'm pleased I didnt just ring the first number given to me.

I wish I could offer something more scientific Pereginator but any sort of background check on who you are seeing is better than nothing.
If you need to see someone I hope you find someone you are confident in.


Thanks for that info MA. My lower back is getting worse by the day. I've been a little unsure whether I should just go to my GP (I'm a little dubious in his ability to correctly diagnose the issue) or just go to a Physio.

Cheers
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bigkev
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