Saturday, June 07, 2014

Return to Snap City: non-specfic neck pain


After adventures in 'busted triceps country' (the problem is now pretty much fixed, see here and here for more), I now find myself dealing with a case of what I think is muscle related, non-specific neck pain, which has put me out of action this weekend. My breakfast comprised two paracetamol and a nurofen, partnered with a liberal spaying of Deep Heat - me thinks something more substantial may be required. Sleeping is horrible: I woke up repeatedly through the night, feeling being pinned to the bed, and actually needed to use my hands to lift my head to more comfortable positions (and also to get out of bed) because the strain on the neck of simply getting up is too much for the useless, weakling neck to deal with in its current condition. I mean come on, it's not like I was involved in some kind of accident. I can't even recall straining it in anyway. It was just a case of waking up and there it was. Boom, bang, hello Snap City. It's like some kind of curse had landed upon me from a far away land. Causes can include bad posture such as being arched over at your desk at work, sleeping on thick pillows, or anxiety, none of which I would think are a problem for me. By process of elimination that only really leaves the gypsy black magic curse from lands afar. The problem is compounded many fold by peak hay fever, which brings with it north of 30 violent sneezes a day, each one acting like a mini pain injection (they're over in a second but the anticipation sucks). Also, working through the pain (e.g. playing a round of golf, which I did last night), is not recommended.

Before visiting the doctor, the treatment appears to be simple, and the NHS says that it is 'generally nothing to worry about', which is all to the good:

- Paracetamol/Ibuprofen, or both (I'm on both for now, the paracetamol seem ineffective so will be dropped).
- Gentle neck exercises, ranging from general shoulder rotations and arm movements to gentle directional head movements. Keeping your head stationary for too long isn't recommended. Another good one seems to be to use a foam roller or tennis ball to massage the sore spot, or sticking two tennis balls in a sock with a slight gap between them, and using the device to massage the base of the neck for relief.
- Heat treatments can help to reduce the pain - I'm using Deep Heat for immediate relief and may use heat packs if needed. A hot bath can also be helpful.
- Work at eye level as much as possible (out go all the active activities, in come surfing the web, blogging, and watching the French Open...it isn't all bad!)

Note to self, the neck pain subsided significantly after taking an Ibuprofen, increasing the pain-free circular range to approximately 50%, from around 10% first thing in the morning. But how much is simply due to starting the day and moving out of the uncomfortable lying position. Confound you, multiple variables!

I'm not wallowing in pity with these injuries by blogging about them, but am interested in logging them for future reference. The dilemma once faces with these things is that most issues heal themselves, so you may end up taking lots of non-helpful actions and you won't really know if they are helpful or not, but because the cost of taking the actions is low, they will become part of your self-treatment routine. No doubt some measures are nothing more than gypsy magic, but you'll never know. So, rational being, how do you like them apples?

Anyways, it looks like my hopes to get back in the gym need to be set back another week, which is roughly how long it takes for the problem to fix itself. 

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