Welcome to my neck pain story.

This is my online journal of the struggle to overcome neck pain which developed into a herniated disc between C5-C6 and ultimately neck surgery.  I have no medical qualifications or expertise.  My intent is to personally track my own journey and in so doing, to share it with others who are at some point in their own neck pain journey.  Perhaps you will learn from my experience, or will be able to add a comment that will in turn help others.

If you are reading this, then you probably already have or know someone close to you who has neck or back pain.  I wish you well.  For me, this has definitely turned into a marathon and not a sprint, which I originally was hoping for.  Good Luck to you.







Free download on Back and Neck Pain - causes and cures

View my X-Rays

Before Surgery        After Surgery




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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Keeping my joints healthy
Zyflamend Supplement ImageGreetings, and it's been a while since my past posting, but I wanted to share a combination of natural supplements I have been using for almost 2 years now that is working wonders in keeping my joints supple so I don't feel like a squeaky door.  If this is your first visit, at the bottom and reading up, you'll learn about my C5-6 herniated disc and the surgery I had.  My joints are the weak spot in my overall health.  Not sitting at a computer all day I believe has helped immensely. In my business designing jewelry I make sure I am moving around and not stagnating in ine position all day. (Visit ElegantEarCuffs.com)


About 2 years ago I started taking Zyflamend, a natural supplement of which the biggest ingredient is ginger.  This helped to bring down the stiffness caused by inflammation in my joints.  However, it wasn't quite enough.  In a discussion with our local whole foods store, I decided to try cod liver oil as I was told that this will lubricate the joints, so to speak, and with the Zyflamend will be the best combination.  About 30 days later I noticed significant decrease in the remaining stiffness, to the point that it was almost like I was completely back to normal!


Arctic Cod Liver Oil ImageAmazon has the best prices I have found, especially when you sign-up for the regular shipment.  The cod liver oil I get from our local grocery store.  It has a lemony flavor which I don't like so I suck a chocolate chip and that makes the experience more palatable.


I would rather take a different product than cod liver oil since we are fast running out of fish, but I believe this brand is a combination of different fish.  The important thing is to take a quality brand that is not tainted with pollutants in the water. 


I have also gone on a diet recently.  The weight was slowly increasing and I have a very small bone structure.  Those extra 20 lbs were well distributed, but I was starting to feel it.  With the loss of weight I feel much better, lighter and I can tell my joints really appreciate it. 


Good luck. And let me know what you take.  All the best, Fiona 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

6 Year Update

Hard to believe so much time has passed since Dr. Todd Albert of The Rothman Institute performed herniated disc replacement to my C5-C6 back in September 2008.  At that time I had a desk job in marketing and sales slaving over a computer and trying to manage my stress.


My neck continues to do well, but I have learned to watch for signs of neck stress and deal with them accordingly.  After feeling my neck was unstable and tight right before Christmas last year, I committed to an exercise program in January 2014 and this has tremendously helped my neck to feel stronger.


You can also try this exercise program.  It is low impact but quite exerting.  Of course, seek advice from your doctor before trying any new exercise program.


I started with this program twice a week:  

Fitness Blender Barre Workout Video(39 minutes)  http://youtu.be/OC9VbwyEG8U.


Then I added a second video, so I alternate between videos, doing each only once a week.

Fat Burning HIIT Pilates Workout - 35 Minute Pilates and HIIT Cardio Blend  http://youtu.be/G9TSblrp8qQ .


Take it easy; both these programs are harder than they look, or perhaps that's middle age talking.Smile 


Green Leaves EarCuffs by Elegant EarCuffs by Fiona

I was laid off in March of last year and now have my own business at http://ElegantEarCuffs.com. When I'm focusing on making my jewelry I sometimes feel my neck tighten.  I have learned to watch for signs of physical stress and respond accordingly. Sometimes a couple of Tylenol, sometimes a little self-massage on my neck, sometimes finding a different task in running my business.


As for Dr. Albert, he left The Rothman Institute in July of this year and is now the Surgeon-in-Chief and Medical Director and also the Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery at 535 East 70th Street, New York,  NY  10021.  He is also a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.  Watch an introductory video to Dr. Albert and learn more at www.hss.edu/physicians_albert-todd.asp# .


I believe The Rothman Institute lost a great doctor when Dr. Albert left.  I went for my two year checkup in the summer and was told I'm now on a 4 year checkup schedule.  Apparently, as a past patient of Dr. Albert, he will always see me if needs be.  I guess there would be a question of whether my Pennsylvania insurance would cover services in NYC.  However, I'm hoping and working towards never needing to see Dr. Albert again. To me he is still a hero in the field of neck surgery. A doctor with a more positive disposition and kind spirit you could not find.  All I can say is you New Yorkers are very lucky!

#Neckpain  #herniation #rothmaninstitute #herniateddisc  



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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Report on the Arc4Life Pillow - 3 months later
I've been using the pillow for about 3 months now I believe. I used to go to sleep on my side and wake up on my back every night. Now I'm a side sleeper. That means with this pillow I have to place my head on either the left or right side of center. If I lie on my back, I lie in the middle of the pillow. There is an indent for my head in the middle and the pillow definitely cradles the back of my neck, and this is the important part as I found out. It gently forces the neck back into its natural curve. I think my neck was unnaturally straight after leaing forward to work at a computer for years. Initially, I felt muscle discomfort and tightness, so I definitely recommend getting used to it slowly. Having said that, I do believe this pillow promotes a healthy neck and spine. It is holding up really well and is really well made.
Sept 29, 2014 update.  Time to get a new pillow.  I have read that all pillows need to be replaced every 2 years or so.  Still impresed with how this pillow has helped my neck. 
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Friday, March 30, 2012

NEW Pillow - Let's see how it works
New Pillow - Let's see how it works.  neck_pillow.JPGWell, considering I spend almost 30% lying down, I have been neglectful of making sure I have a good pillow.  I had one of those memory foam pillows, but it has absolutely no support left in it.  So, I have ordered the Cervical Linear Traction Neck pillow from Arc4Life.  Visit back in a few weeks when I have had a chance to see if it makes a difference.  If you have experience with a good pillow, please post your comments below or in my visitors page.
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Prodisc-C Total Disc Replacement. IDE Clinical Study

ProDisc-C Total Disc Replacement.  IDE* Clinical Study.  When I made the decision to have neck surgery, I had two options as to how to fix the problem.  One was the ProDisc-C total disc replacement, or the ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy fusion) surgery.  Although Dr. Albert of the Rothman Institute indicated they would both be successful, the research I did beforehand led me to believe that neck flexibility could be slightly compromised with the ACDF. 

ProdiscC_photo.jpgThere are several different ACDF or disc replacement devices on the market.  Your choice will be limited by what your doctor has learned to use and what your medical insurance will cover.  If you like the idea of the Prodisc-C and your doctor is not trained to implant this, you will have to find a different doctor.  My medical insurance gave me the option, so with Dr. Albert's advice I chose the Prodisc-C.  To date, I believe this was the right choice.

The link below will take you to the Clinical Study of the ProDisc-C as written by the manufacturer, Synthes, from West Chester, PA,
comparing it with ACDF surgery.  It is quite easy to read.  Read the Synthes report.  

On December 17, 2007 this device was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.  You can link to the FDA's brief overview of this device here.   

The full FDA report, titled, Summary of Safety and Effectveness Data is available here.  This document is written in medical mumbo-jumbo - not an easy read for me.  However, it too has comparative studies between the ACDF and the testing that took place as part of the FDA's approval process.  I found it interesting that this device has been available worldwide since 2002.  I had mine implanted in September 2008, although the Rothman Institute had been using it for some years.

The FDA report describes all the potential risks and adverse events that could happen.  Don't be scared away by this; think of the risks and hazards if you do nothing. 

I was saddened to read of the 54 rabbits who had to give their lives as part of the FDA's approval process. Many thousands of rabbits give their lives every year in the name of advancing human medicine.  If you find relief like I did from this surgery, I encourage you to give a donation on behalf of these little guys to the Southeastern PA-DE House Rabbit Society (a rescue organization for house rabbits), to the Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR), or to the Chester County SPCA.org or your local animal shelter.

* IDE stands for Investigational Device Exemption - allows the device to be used in a clinical study in order to collect safety and effectiveness data.  This is required to support a Premarket Approval (PMA) when is submitted to the FDA who use it as part of their approval process.  Read more at the FDA website.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Introduction to Wobenzym NŽ

WobenzymN.jpgWhen I was going through intense pain 2 years ago before my neck surgery, I went to a health food store and enquired about what they recommended for inflammation.  My nerves were inflamed because they were being pinched by the herniated disc.  If I could reduce the inflammation, I could reduce the tension in my neck and shoulders.  It was a vicious cycle. But how to stop the cycle?  A lady in the health food store told me about her bad knee.  It had been so bad she had frequent and regular cortizone shots.  Someone told her about Wobenzym N.  She took it twice a day as recommended.  Her knee improved to the point that she rarely needs a cortizone shot.  OK, so I gave it a try. 

When I was in extreme pain, it helped reduce the severity.  However, I went ahead with the operation, and glad I did.  I take Wobenzym N now to help my other joints and for all the other health benefits, which are many.  The manufacturer's site is
http://www.mucos.de/home/.  There is an option to translate the site to English in the top right corner.

This is a natural supplement aimed at supplementing the many enzyme systems of the body.  It has been suggested that it is the gradual breakdown of our enzyme production that leads to the aging process.

Wobenzym N was originally designed by Professor Max Wolf and his colleague Helen Benitez in Germany in the late 1950's.  Read the full history at
http://www.mucos.de/wir-ueber-uns/geschichte/ .  You may have to hit the translate button for English. 

The only caution is not to take this if you are on blood thinner medicine, are pregnant or nursing.  Other than that, there haven't been any recorded negative reactions in over 50 years.

The worst part of this is, well, to put it bluntly and accurately, the tablets smell like cat urine!  I kid you not!  However, if you keep the tablets in the fridge this eliminates the smell.  

In order to bypass the enzymes in our stomach, the tablets must be taken on an empty stomach, which means 2 hours after meals, and drank with a glass of cold water.  A hot drink will melt the protective covering of the 3 tablets.  Then you must wait another 45 mins before eating or drinking anything but water.  I
keep some by my bed and take them in the middle of the night.  There are not too many parts of the day when I have a 3-hour window without any food or drink! Nighttime seems to be the only time I can be sure I will not eat or drink for that length of time.

The cheapest supplier I have found is Amazon.com.  Take the time to read the comments.  They have different quantities.  However, you may find them at your local healthfood or whole foods store. While my herniated disc was too far gone for the pain to be eliminated  it did decrease in intensity.  I believe this was caused by the Wobenzym N.

Now I take it because it helps prevent any joint or organ inflammation, and helps boost my immune system. Come back soon for my next post about the contents of and studies performed on Wobenzym N.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010


REGRESSION AND PROGRESSION.  It is all to easy to fall out of the routine of best exercise practices.  Summer hit, school was out, all the routines were gone.  We went away for two weeks, summer camp took over, and I stopped exercising at the YMCA.  I also got out of the habit of walking our dog regularly. By the time school was back in session, I realized how uncomfortable my shoulders and neck had become.  I had also put on some weight while on vacation and it hadn't shifted! 

The beginning of September we refocused.  I committed to taking the dog on longer and more frequent walks and working out at the gym with my son including walking round the inside track 1.5 - 2 miles.  The combination very slowly helped me lose some weight.  It also gave me the opportunity to talk with our son.  It was usually a canvassing campaign for an Xbox 360 for his upcoming birthday.  Nonetheless, it was a conversation we otherwise wouldn't have had.

I had been struggling with my neck at work, especially when focused on certain assignments that required more concentration and a tendency to lean forward.  It got so bad I felt a severe pain in the middle of my left shoulder by the end of the day on several occasions, and this led to a grinding and tightening of my neck; symptoms I try to avoid.  I thought that sitting vertically straight was the answer, but on a hunch I decided to remove my back support from the chair, which meant that I was literally slouching backwards.  To my amazement, a shift in the center of gravity gave me NO SHOULDER PAIN, even when I felt stressed!  A simple change in the angle of my sitting posture completely improved my comfort level! 

So a recommitment to exercising and a change in posture has helped immensely, even though I may look like a slouch!

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Neck Scar

The Neck Scar.  A cervical disc replacement is performed through the neck front.  As my doctor explained, it is very easy to access the spine from the front and recovery is fast. Through the back of the neck requires cutting through all the muscles attached to the spine which go down the shoulders and upper back and recovery takes much longer as the muscles also need to heal.  OK, but a gruesome scar?  Not if I could help it!  Of couse, Halloween would be a cinch and I could just imagine the innocent questions .... "What happened to your neck?" I had a bad day in the office? No thanks.

We had used Mederma on our son a few years ago with minimal success, although this may have been because we were inconsistent with the application.  However, my scar was not small and looked like a red zipper.  I wanted guaranteed results.

Rejuveness - Scar Healing Center 

After research I discovered a product called Rejuveness.  The testimonials were impressive.  I bought 3 products:  the silicone sheet, the Rejuveness tape to hold it in place and the scar cream to be applied directly on the scar before the silicone sheet.  As soon as my scar had become dry, approx 3 weeks after the surgery, I started using these products. 

How does Rejuveness work?  When your skin develops a scar due to the healing of a wound, your skin also over time develops a 'memory' of that scar, so even as our skin cells get old, die and are shed, the new replacement skin cells continue to take on the shape and location of the scar tissue.  If you can prevent the scar tissue from forming, there will be no memory of it for the skin to keep replacing.  The silicon somehow has the ability to help the skin repair itself and at the same time dissolve the scar.  The scar cream accelerates healing of the scar. What can I say, it works!

Application of Rejuveness.  I rubbed a small amount of the cream directly onto the scar.  I stuck the (washable) silicon strip over the top and then held it in place with the tape.  I applied the tape about 12-18 hours a day.  By this time it was winter and was easily hidden under a turtleneck or scarf.  My skin did not like the tape too much so I used very narrow pieces of tape that I placed in different places each time.  The silicon is hand washable with some gentle soap.  It never wears out.  Chances are you'll lose it since it is clear before you stop so having extra on hand is a good idea.

It took about 2 months and my scar had completely dissolved!  All I am left with is an indented line where the cut was made by the doctor along one of the natural lines of my neck.  I am very happy with the results.  View my original scar photos.

The entire area on my neck healed very quickly, partly I believe as a past esthetician I have always taken great care of my skin in general.  The item I used prior to the surgery and continue to this day is Dr. Denese neck cream (on right side of this site).  The most effective product I have tried and lasts for months.  A little goes a very long way.  I believe it is important to have your skin in good condition before the operation which will help in the healing process.

For more testimonials and the complete line of products, go to
http://www.rejuveness.com/ .
You will find links to two Rejuveness kits on the right of this site which are the ideal size for neck scar removal.


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Monday, May 24, 2010

Prodisc-C Disc Implant X-Rays

Prodisc-C Disc Implant X-Rays.  These are X-Rays taken October 14, 2008, two weeks after my surgery to replace my herniated disc at C5-C6 with the Prodisc-C implant.  This will have significance to anyone contemplating having this surgery with this particular implant ... there are other procedures available, such as a disc fusion and other disc replacement implants.  I was fortunate in that my medical insurance covered the cost of the disc replacement as opposed to a disc fusion procedure (for a later blog).  I have complete neck movement.  I feel no discomfort.  I do hear occasional clicking and feel occasional tension in my neck from other cervical vertebrae.  Read more about management of my neck post-surgery in future blogs. 
C5C6_ProDiscC_Implant_SideView.jpg        C5C6_ProDiscC_Implant_RearView.jpg

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) officially approved the Prodisc-C disc replacement on December 17, 2007.  Read more at the US Dept of Health & Human Services FDA Website.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

C5-C6 Herniated Disc X-Rays
C5-C6 Herniated Disc X-Rays.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words ...  In this blog I am publishing the xrays of my herniated disc before my operation to replace the C5-C6 with a Prodisc-C disc implant.  These are various x-rays of my neck taken August 8, 2008, 8 weeks prior to my surgery when the Prodisc-C was implanted by Dr. Todd Albert of The Rothman Institute, Philadelphia, PA. 

C5C6_Herniated_Disc_side_view.jpg        C5C6_Herniated_Disc_neck_rearview.jpg

C5C6_Herniated_Disc_neck_flexed_forward.jpg        C5C6_Herniated_Disc_neck_extended_sideview.jpg

Note how the C5-C6 vertebrae are closer together due to the herniated disc which doesn't show on the x-rays.  The space to accommodate the nerves is only milimeters in size, so it doesn't take much for the space for the nerves to be compromised and a pinched nerve to result.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

My C5-C6 disc replacement procedure in the Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia

My C5-C6 disc replacement procedure in the Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia.  My husband drove me to the Jefferson Hospital and we arrived in Philadelphia at 8:00 am.  I was checked-in around 8:30 am.  My husband and son were long since gone, since a Mickey D's breakfast was their first agenda item.  I was moved into a small room where I was given a gown to change into and spent the next 30 mins+ watching a very nice small flat screen TV.  Then they wheeled me into an open room next to the surgery.  Several patients and myself were being prepped for surgery.  I do not recall anyone's name, except Dr. Albert who, in his usual charming fashion, greeted me with a cheery, "There she is!"  He had already successfully completed one operation that day and if I recall correctly he'd been there since about 5:30 that morning.  I had to ask whether the surgery went well, and he nodded in a positive fashion, as if to say, could it go any other way?  I was not at all nervous.  I wasn't in good hands ... I was in the best of hands!  Surgeon assistants, nurses, and others came up to me, introduced themselves and told me what role they were playing in my procedure.  Everyone had a positive manner.  Nobody was grumpy, tired, bored, irritated.  Good!  The young lady who I recall the most I believe held the title of neuro-anaesthetist.  She was the kingpin in this procedure.  She was monitoring the activity of my spinal cord!  My successful outcome depended on no damage to my spinal cord.  Worst case scenario I could be paralyzed.  Looking back, I cannot believe I knew nothing about what she was going to do. It was fascinating.  She placed two-fork prongs all over my body.  The places I recall the most were the top of my hands and top of my feet - these are very painful areas to be stuck into, so she used an icey spray to temporarily numb any feeling.  Once the prongs were in place I felt nothing from them.  They went down each arm and leg, and shoulders.  I looked like a pin cushion!  Each prong was connected to a wire that went to a monitor.  My entire nervous system was going to be scrutinized.  Excellent!  It was while she was finishing off that they anaethatized me and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital room. 

I felt groggy and they were quick to tell me that if I felt any pain to press a button.  Any pain?  Feeling pain was now optional?  The concept was foreign to me!  Self-medication is a wonderful thing!  This was the first time in months I had gone pain-free!  To my amazement, that tingling and painful feeling that ran down my left arm was completely gone!  I was thrilled at the outcome already! 

I was wearing a soft neck collar.  I had been fitted for this a couple of weeks prior to surgery.  I still have it and it feels very comfortable to wear, if I ever feel I need not to bend my neck.  (Dr. Albert feels that the hard collars are not necessary, and I completely felt the soft collar was sufficient.)

The staff at Jefferson were great.  There was one male nurse trainee who irritated me as he made a couple of sexist remarks about my not being interested to learn which channel had sports TV; he was very full of himself.  Other than that it was a great experience.

The one thing that nobody at the hospital told me until before I left the next day was how to sit up correctly. I was pulling myself forwards and apparently this is incorrect after neck surgery.  I was supposed to roll onto my side and pull myself up that way. They completely missed that one. 

That night I didn't eat much, and did at one point feel nauseous and threw up some liquid - a natural reaction to the anesthesia.  In the morning I think I ate a little beakfast.  By noon my husband was there, but it took a couple of hours to get me checked out.

The physical therapist gave me a lesson on how to correctly sit up (a little late)  and how to go up and down stairs.

I was given a prescription for hydrocodone/acetaminophen, also known as Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Anexsia, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, and Norco for the pain, with instructions that as soon as possible I needed to switch to Extra Strength Tylenol.

I was released from the hospital.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pre-testing for the Surgery, mid-September, 2008

Pre-testing.  My disc replacement was being done by Dr. Todd Albert at the Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.  I had no past personal knowledge of this hospital but believed it to be a hospital with a good reputation.  The Rothman Institute has an impressive suite right opposite the hospital in downtown Philly.  It was there and to another medical office I went to get all my pre-surgical tests done.  To say this took the best part of a day was not exaggeration.  Going from one office to another, it was not an unpleasant day as I had allowed time to do this.  In the process, it was discovered I had a slight heart murmer.  I had to return on another day to have a stress test done.  My heart murmer was of no significance I was glad to find out, and may in fact have had it for many years.  For the stress test I had to walk at a steady pace on a treadmill set at a significant gradient.  I passed.

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The Rothman Institute, Summer 2008

RothmanInstitute.gifThe Rothman Institute, Summer 2008.  My neck situation was not improving.  My husband and a friend started talking up The Rothman Institute.  They knew people who'd had spine or bone-related problems.  The consensus was I should make an appointment and see what they had to say.  My husband knew someone who had a lower back problem and they recommended Dr. Todd Albert.  I sent him a fax summarizing my neck pain history, treatments, and medications and requested an appointment.  Dr. Albert was a neuro/orthopaedic surgeon.  You had to have a significant problem to get an appointment to see him. My first appointment was about 6 weeks into the future. 

I first spent about 30 minutes discussing my condition with a junior doctor.  He was delightful and went to great lengths to tell me what I already knew.  But I also learned that I was losing strength in my left arm - a sure sign of nerve damage.  To this day, my left arm is not as strong as my right arm.  There was no going back. Then I had a consult with Dr. Albert.  He has a great 'bedside manner.'  He took time to answer all my questions which were numerous, he exuded confidence from his many years of experience.  I felt like I was finally speaking to the right man.  You can read more about his education, certifications and professional associations.  He is now the President of The Rothman Institute. 

The conclusion was I would significantly benefit from a disc replacement.  My disc was never going to unherniate, and I was losing strength in my left arm. This is an important indicator that permanent damage had set in.  Dr. Albert was confident that this would solve my problem.  This was about pain elimination - my ultimate goal. 

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Neck Pain Progression - Spring 2008
Neck Pain Progression - Spring 2008.  One year later, again in the Spring, I was suffering from that same sharp pain in my neck, radiating down into my shoulders.  My entire neck was painful, but this time things were different.  I had tingling in my left arm, going down into my hand.  I was given Naproxen EC 500mg, 1 tablet twice daily - an anti-inflammatory to relieve the pain, Tizanidine HCL 4 mg tablet twice daily - a muscle relaxer, and eventually Cyclobenzaprine 10 mg at bedtime - another muscle relaxer and to help me sleep when my arm got very painful.  I went for physical therapy but got extremely upset when it hurt more after than before.  (There is no 'hurts so good' about this pain.)  Weeks and weeks went by with no relief; in fact, it was getting worse!  My orthopaedic doctor, having gone through the usual routine, put me on a dose of steroids, and then a second round.  No effect.  The doctor prescribed a Swingline neck traction unit on the floor.  I used it but felt only moments of relief and then the pain was as before.

My husband had an old neck traction device from the 60's that was used by his Grandfather sent to us.  It was a pulley system that we set up in our unfinished basement with a dining room chair under it.  The idea was to pull on the handle which in turn pulled your head up that was held in place by 2 pieces of fabric under your chin and back of your neck.  The whole thing looked like a scene from a horror movie.  Although I was told great relief could be attained, not sure about the logic.  I had to pull down with my own hands to pull my neck and head up.  I felt like I was working against myself, although I do recall some relief.

I even tried accupuncture.  The practitioner was referred to me.  I do think I felt a little relief, but on the third visit, I got a shock when he undid my bra without letting me know in advance.  He did nothing untoward, but that was enough for me. Faced down in a pillow, it felt like he was 'making a move.'  Enough!  I was out of there!

I then tried a chiropractor.  Not sure about these folks.  The man I visited was extremely nice and knowledgeable about his practice, but that twisting and cracking really wasn't my cup of tea.  They assured me I would see improvement, but according to the ladies in the office, it may take up to a year.  A year?  Any guarantees with that with 2+ visits per week?  The chiropractor didn't like my antiquated traction unit and recommended a bag of water suspended with a pulley from a door.  He gave me a program of weights and numbers of pulls and length of each pull session.  Again, only temporary relief.

By this time I was having a hard time making it through each day at work!  I was wearing ice packs around my neck during the day - sometimes held there with packing tape - what a picture.  There were the odd quiet times I would go into an office and lie on the floor for 15 minutes, just to get the pressure off my neck. I would come home and have to lie down for a couple of hours trying to find some relief.  It never disappeared, not even for a moment, but rest did take away the severity. 

I placed my left arm which had all the tingling and pain in a sling at the suggestion of my doctor, and this did help at times, but it's not easy to type with your arm in a sling. During all this I couldn't help wondering what my boss was making of it all.  Was I for real?  Was I building a claim for disability?  He didn't say too much, watching and waiting.  Although quite honestly, what could he say?  I tried to play down my symptoms, but this was no time to be a martyr.  The economy was starting to feel the pinch.  This was no time to lose my job.
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Friday, April 9, 2010

NECK PAIN IN 2006 and 2007

Neck Pain in 2006 and 2007.  My husband gave me a laptop computer Christmas of 2005.  Like the first time you use a cordless phone, the opportunity to use a computer anywhere in the house was liberating!  Soon, though, I discovered to be the most efficient and have more working space, the kitchen table was the most practical choice.  So there I sat, for several hours at a time.  I had a small direct sales business that kept me communicating with my customers, entering orders, every day.  At the peak before Christmas I was grabbing every moment I could outside of taking care of our young son.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2006, and my neck started to trouble me.  It was very painful - a sharp pain that was in my neck and went into my shoulders, especially on my left side.  I went to the GP who sent me to a neck doctor.  He sent me for physical therapy and gave me some pain killers.  After only a few weeks the pain subsided and I stopped taking the pills and the physical therapy.  I was fixed ....

Fast forward to the Spring of 2007 and life had taken a 180 degree turn around.  My husband had become self-employed the previous year.  As much as I was reluctant to give up doing only part-time work while I took care of our son, finances and our need for health insurance meant I would have to join the full-time work force.  This would open new opportunities, but I was sad to leave my old life. 

I took on a new job in sales and marketing in a field in the IT industry that I knew nothing about.  It was and still is a great opportunity, but it came at a huge price.  Within 2 months of starting this job I started to develop those same neck problems, more intense this time.  Back I went to the doctor and again we went the route of pain meds and physical therapy.  Eventually after a number of weeks it worked itself out.

This latest incident was directly related to stress; the tension that was playing out in my shoulders was pulling on my neck.  The stress of a new job got the better of me.  Was this ever going to end?  I felt like I was fighting repeated battles with no chance of winning the war.

10:44 pm edt          Comments

Working at a computer

Working at a computer

Most of my working life has involved working at a computer.  I'm one of the 'worker bees,' never having ranked to any significant level of management.  Therefore, I don't travel or attend numerous meetings. So, I sit and sit and sit in the same position using the same muscles, enhancing the same bad posture habits year after year. 

I think this is the single most effective way to traumatize your spine.  The body was never made to hold any particular position for extended lengths of time.  Consider the pedicurist, or the dental assistant - ask them if they have back or shoulder pain.  Undoubtedly the answer is yes. 

My bad posture habit was and remains that when I am concentrating on what I am doing, especially when using certain software programs, I tend to lean-in towards the computer, not realizing that I hold the same position for several hours at a stretch. This creates stress and tension in my shoulders, which pull on my neck and can result in a headache, rigid shoulders and a neck that sounds like fire crackling when I turn my head.  Not good!

The fact is, I store tension in my shoulders.  Yes, I can actually say I do carry the world on my shoulders, or at least it certainly feels that way!  I believe that after years of reinforcing this bad habit, my shoulders are now so tense they are like bricks.  I have developed a defense mechanism - whenever I sit at my desk my shoulders automatically tense, even before I feel that they need to.  It is referred to as  'muscle memory.'  If you look at the diagram of the bone structure and the muscles attached to the spine, you will see that the upper back and should muscles all attach to the neck.  When the shoulders tense, they pull on the neck.  Over time this creates excessive pressure on the discs between the cervical vertebrae, and before you know it, you have bulging discs and, if not corrected, a herniated disc ....

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9:49 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Did it start with a small fender bender 10+ years ago?
Neck Whiplash.  I was taken to the hospital.  The car was going slow enough that my symptoms were a sore spot on my head from the steering wheel (no airbag in the car), but my neck was very sore from whiplash and in the following days continued to become more painful and stiff.  I went to my family doctor who scheduled me for physical therapy.  I recall the best part of it was the electrical machine which was a tens/muscle stimulator.  It gave immediate relief which came back gradually over the following few days until the next physical therapy session.  This machine with a combination of exercises, some using the rubber bands, over about 4 weeks worked out the pain and I felt back to normal.  Good as new, I thought; or was I?   

Details of the accident.  It is hard to say, but I do know that back in the summer of 1998, I was in a minor accident with a construction truck.  The truck was ahead of me to my left and needed to turn right across my lane to enter the construction site.  So, the driver turned right, but did not allow for the fact that I would come inbetween the truck and the construction site.  I did press on my brakes and swerve to the right, but there was no sidewalk, lane or even a gutter for me to swerve into.  I hit the temporary chain link fence to my right and the truck's right wheel on my left, or should I say he hit me!  The construction company insurance claimed that the driver had his flashlight on indicating he was turning right.  So what if he did, which I do not recall seeing, he did not have the right of way!  Then the insurance company claimed that I was not driving in the right lane, and on and on it went, throwing every slurr they could to try to weasle out of the accident, until we settled for a small amount, 25% of which went to our lawyer.  The only saving grace was that I was driving an old car, so the loss was not significant from that perspective.

Once I was better, it was about 8 years before I felt neck pain again.
5:20 pm edt          Comments


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Fiona Thompson
Taken 1 year after surgery

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Here I am 1 year after surgery, in the Fall of 2009.  Happy days; a far cry from my pain one year earlier.  Below you can view a closeup of my scar.



My scar 1 year after surgery
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My scar after neck pain surgery.  Dr. Albert explained to me that access is much simpler going through the front of the neck and eliminates cutting through any muscle which would extend recovery time.  In fact, he told me that it is possible to use a finger and push through the neck to the back of the neck or spine.  Read my Blog entry about how I prevented any ugly scarring on my neck using ReJuveness silicone and scar cream.  It really works!

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