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Kaori asks the Guru about neck & shoulder pain

Sep 20th, 2017

Hello,

I’ve been suffering from neck/back/shoulder/arm (right-hand side only) pain for 3 weeks.

I had a car bumping into my motorbike from behind while waiting at the red light on the 13th of July.  I had a back ache and it became really bad in a few days.  I ride horses regularly and I occasionally fall off, so I normally have some muscle ache around my legs and back, so I didn’t think much and did some DIY and gardening for 2 weeks.

About 1 month after the bike incident, my neck started to hurt and couldn’t turn or look up.  Then the pain spread over the right shoulder, and then the right arm.  My thumb, index finger, and upper arm are numb.  If I lean forward or look up, I get a burning sensation through the right arm towards my thumb.  I can’t lie down and I have to sit up to sleep at night.  I’m taking painkillers 5 times a day, but still in
pain.

I have been going to an osteopath, because my GP told me it would take 6 weeks to get a hospital appointment.  I was wondering whether I should ask for a scan.  It’s not that I don’t believe the osteopath treatment, but some serious injuries can only be found by a scan and it may be better to have both approaches.  I don’t know if physio is better either.  It would be great if I you could let me know what the cause may be and which treatment could be the best for my case.

Thank you for your help.

Regards,
Kaori

The Guru Responded:

Hi Kaori

There’s a lot written/researched about the merits of to scan or not, especially for pretty “normal” back and neck pain.

It’s not that it’s the scan that’s the issue, but the interpretation of it that is.

The research has showed that in normal, pain free individuals who are MRI scanned the scan will show age related changes, which are normal and give no pain whatsoever. You need to be shown what is potentially an issue, and what’s not.

I think if you want a (MRI) scan because you are concerned, and you are aware of normal age related changes and that anatomical pathology doesn’t always mean pain and someone can talk this through with you and your scan, then go for it.

I think this for MRI as it’s pretty much zero radiation compared to X-ray or CT, and they are a different ball park and so I’d probably say your case you wouldn’t want an X-ray or CT pre MRI.

With regards to Osteo or Physio I think you need avoid passive treatment where someone does something to you as you lie there – you are over the acute stage where it can be beneficial. You now need an active, rehab based approach – and I’m biased towards Physio for this.

You’ve also got to make sure you get some sleep – it’s really important for recovery, and so your Osteo has to be on top of your game to get you lying flat with a pillow under your head and out of pain – it generally happens when you’ve lost movement in your thoracic spine (as a compensation) to having a sore neck post whip lash, and when you lie back you can’t allow your thoracic spine to flattery out so you have to pull your neck back to reach the pillow. All this does is squash irritated, painful tissue.

Hope this helps – the road to recovery can be a little rocky, but hang in there. Trust is key.

The Guru

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