Neck muscle pain after adjustment

by Ann

I was told my neck curved the wrong way and that was most likely causing my sinus issues and my left arm twitching. I went for the first adjustment and was a little sore after but not bad. After my second adjustment I got really sore. The muscles between my shoulder blades, all the way up my neck.

I also had lower back pain after the adjustment. I was afraid something was really wrong so I saw my family doctor pre-days after the adjustment. He said he didn't think there was any problem with my spine but my muscles were tight. He prescribed a muscle relaxer and said to take ibuprofen.

My back above the shoulder blades and up the sides of my neck are pulled so tight I can barely turn my head and they switch sides. It will be on the right side and then move over to the middle and then on the left side. It's been 9 days since the last adjustment. I was too sore to even consider going back.

Is this normal? The muscles are extremely stiff and sometimes it's almost a burning/hot feeling. A hot shower usually loosens it up for a little while but it comes back.

Hello Ann,
No, it's not normal. Having said that, some after treatment pain, as you had after the first visit is not unusual, particularly for chronic conditions.

The reversal of the cervical lordosis - curves the wrong way - is in my book a serious problem; you had a significant whiplash injury, perhaps a long time ago; it often leads to pain in the arm. Frankly, I doubt has anything to do with your sinuses, but that's my opinion, so take it for what it's worth.

You have also been to a 'full spine' practitioner. It's a bit controversial; no matter what, they manipulate your whole back. Personally I rarely do that any longer in the early stages of treatment for neck pain, having myself had patients with complaints not unlike yours. But once the neck has settled down, every chiropractor should check all the other joints, including for example the hip, ankle and shoulder.

What I recommend is that you go back to the chiropractor for a consultation, clearly state without treatment; tell him your tale of woe, let him examine you again, and explain things from his point of view; go home, and weigh it, and take it from there. This is especially true if he comes highly recommended by a friend or family member; if you found him because he has the largest advert in the yellow pages, then take that it into account.

I would not recommend you do nothing; give it a few weeks perhaps to let things settle, but you should pursue this, particularly if you have pain in the arm.

Let me know how you get on.

Dr B

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May 16, 2017
Still no improvement.
by: Ann

I am still having neck pain since the April 13 visit.

I had an MRI of the cervical spine and saw my husband's orthopedic spine specialist. He said the spine is fine other than a small protrusion at C5/C6 that wouldn't be causing any problems. He thinks the chiropractor made my muscles very angry with a too aggressive approach.

They had been in the wrong position possibly for over 30 years due to a bad wreck that involved several flips. I'm full of knots and keep having spasms up the back of my neck and into the back of my head. It's been miserable! He sent me to physiotherapy with a muscle specialist and thinks it will take about 16 visits. The PT wants to try dry needing and says I have some of the tightest muscles she's worked with. Yay me! I'm doing heat, muscle relaxers, ibuprofen and a tens unit.

Hello Ann,
You're on the right track at least for the present until things settle down again.

Meantime work on basics; don't sleep on your tum and try to avoid putting your neck in odd positions. Park where you don't have to crane your neck to reverse.

Ask the PT to show your husband how to do some gentle massage.

I'm afraid old whiplashes leave their mark; that reversal of the curve is very significant.

Give it time.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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