knots in upper back and neck causing severe pain

by Lisa
(Pittsfield Ma)

I have suffered from migraines for years. All of my migraines start with a walnut sized knot in my upper back and a similar sized knot in my occipital region. These type headaches last anywhere from 5-7 days. Now mind you I have family and friends massage the heck out of these knots to try and bring about relief and that has helped at times but never for long.

This past 7 days I have really suffered to the point where I couldn't rest my neck in any direction. Is it possible that I made the pain worse by very intense massage and pressings by my friends. My neck feels very weak and strained. I am at my wits end.

I have never believed in chiropractic care but am so desperate that I have scheduled an apt with one this week. I am very scared. I am worrying that it will cause more damage or even a stroke when he manipulates my neck.

Please give me your insight on my symptoms of large knots and headaches and insight on my worries over going to a chiropractor. I don't know where else to turn. Lisa


Hello Lisa,
Cervical spine pain radiating down to the midback and upwards causing severe migraine headaches is a common complaint in the chiropractic clinic, so you need have no anxiety on that score. Your chiropractor will have seen hundreds of people with simular complaints. Yours sounds particularly nasty, though.

Ask him to check your jaw joints too.

Stroke after a cervical manipulation can happen, but it's such a rare phenomenon. I've probably given 200,000 neck adjustments in 34 years and not had a problem; but like lightning, it can happen. If you are a smoker, on the pill and are also experiencing dizziness, then you are more at risk.

You probably take a lot of medication, and that's far more risky.

A good option: go for an examination, telling the chiropractor you don't want treatment at this stage; after his or her report of findings, go home and weigh it all up.

If chiropractic was as dangerous as you've heard it is, we'd all be out of business by now. Instead, chiropractic malpractice premiums are amongst the lowest in the medical world. On the whole chiropractic is reasonably safe, and after pain treatment short lived.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, Lisa. Don't expect Rome to built in a day though. You'll need to go for a course of treatments, probably 6-10, then some rehab and an occasional but regular treatment. Don't buy into a fifty treatment program, but also don't expect your chiropractor to be a miracle worker. S/he will have to work very hard to help you.

Let me know how you get on.

Dr B

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