exercise/physiotherapy

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I am a 59 year old woman living in Enfield, Middlesex. I have recently been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis and am unable to take anti-inflammatory drugs long-term because of a hiatus hernia. Having said this, my doctor did prescribe these pills for a two week period but they did not make any difference to my problem. He has put me on the list for physiotherapy, but I have just learned that the waiting period will be at least 5 months!

Can anyone please advise any exercises I can be undertaking in the meantime which might alleviate some of the symptoms? I suffer with headaches which I assume are all linked with the c.s. My pain is worst first thing in the morning.

Any help would be much appreciated. I have already found this site very helpful, as a newly-diagnosed sufferer!

With thanks.

Brenda S

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    hi brenda welcombe to patient dont suffer with cs myself but with cervical disc prolapse sorry to hear of your pain, you,ve come to the right place im sure someone out there will be able to advise you, about the waiting time we all v frutrated by it . all the best gail
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  • Posted

    Hi Brenda, me too.

    Waiting for Physio appointments is very frustrating isnt it. I went to see my doc on friday to ask him if there was anything else I could do whilst waiting for that first appointment, (I don't want to try any exercises just in case I make it worse) and as well as prescribing me some prescription painkillers which have done absolutely nothing to ease the pain over the weekend, he suggested a couple of other things I could do.

    Firstly, the pain worse in the morning - he suggested that I prop my head up in bed at night at either side to stop it from lolling into an odd position when I sleep (sleep???). To lay flat rather than on a pillow etc., so I did that, and I also made good use of the blow up air pillow (the kind that blows up at the sides with a flat neck area) that I usually just take on flights. It really made a difference to the ache the next morning, so perhaps worth a try. Also to elevate my arm slightly from the rest of my body, so I sleep with my left arm resting on a wheat bag, and again that seems to ease the strain a little.

    He also mentioned a machine that you can buy from most chemists called a T.E.N.S. Its a bit similar to those odd little exercise machines you can buy but you stick the little pads to the areas of pain, and the machine vibrates them slightly and it is supposed to lul the brain in to thinking good things rather than sending the pain signals. I#ve not tried it yet, but I thought I would research it on the internet today and see what it says. Not expensive evidently - between £10 - £20.

    As I find more things out, I'll keep posting with the hope that they help someone, if not me.

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  • Posted

    Thanks so much Lin, this is really helpful. I have been up since 5.15am as my neck has been so uncomfortable in the night and I woke up with a rotten headache (again!) so gave in and got up for a cup of tea.

    I have tried many different pillows in the past (before being officially diagnosed with C.S.) and currently have one of the Tempur-type pillows - and I am not sure whether this is helping or making things worse, but as my Mum bought it for me at a cost of £60 I feel obliged to give it a fair trial ! I will try your suggestions though, and thanks again for being kind enough to reply. I am really grateful.

    Thanks again.

    Brenda

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  • Posted

    hi brenda - not sure if this helps but i phoned the physio dept myself to ask if i could be seen as soon as ~~~~~~~~~~~and guess wat! i was seen the next day ! so maybe worth a try. gail
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  • Posted

    Thanks Gail - I may be bold and try to ring about an appointment. Unfortunately, I will not be seen in the physio dept. of local hospital, but at my doctor's surgery - and apparently they deal with everyone in the local area, not just those registered at this particular surgery! Perhaps I will ring the local hospital to see if they have a shorter waiting list. Fingers crossed.

    Thanks for your advice - it is really appreciated, and I wish you well with your physiotherapy - hope it helps!

    Thanks again.

    Brenda

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  • Posted

    My only relief is heatbags at the moment. I wake up in the night in total agony, (it doesn't help that the cat sneaks onto the bed, sleeps at my side, and traps my arm underneath her whilst I am asleep) zap the heatbag, wrap it around my arm, and then i seem to sleep again.

    Painkillers don't seem to work at all. I was given Meloxicam 7.5 by the doc before I went on holiday, and took two a day and I don't honestly think they made the slightest difference.

    With regard to the TENS machine, we bought one yesterday from Lloyds Pharmacy for £14, and i tried it out last night.

    They appear to be very popular - my husband was in a queue of four people and each one had a TENS machine in their basket. The girl at the counter said they had sold 100's of them in the last week - I can't imagine how many people are in pain at any one time.

    Anyway, its an odd sensation, and Im not at all sure if it is useful or not. There is up to 8 settings with a number of strengths of pulse to each, with a mix of massage, and pain relief. I tried one for both and it made my muscles jump in my arm, which to my mind means that they are tensing up, which therefore can't be good for the nerves - so we'll see. Im on the lowest setting now.

    I will keep trying and see if it makes a difference. I'll report back if it does.

    Went for xrays yesterday, but won't know results for a fortnight. Can't see what good it will do though - you either have it or you don't. There doesn't seem to be a cure.

    Chin up all!!

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  • Posted

    I know you may be a little surprised by my suggestion but it really can make a big difference and I can explain why.

    You need to start swimming and I don't mean the nice sedate breast stroke that we were all taught as children - I mean overarm crawl. Please don't faint at the idea and it may take some time to learn especially if you are not a swimmer.

    I started when I first developed the condition 5 years ago ( age 52 ) and now I swim one kilometre every day in the swimming lanes at my local pool. It took about a year to build up to being able to swim this distance. You will need goggles as you need to put your face into the water and rock the whole body from side to side. This will allow you to take breaths without straining the neck i.e. your whole body tilts out of the water. You need to stretch the arms out in front of you as much as possible - forget the old technique of your arms coming in from the side - and any good instructor will be able to help you with this once they get over the shock of 50 year olds wanting to learn front crawl.

    Within a couple of months the muscles on the back of your neck will build up and eventually the whole upper body muscle network will be strengthened. This will then support the cervical vertebrae. If you can afford to visit a chiropractic or osteopath all the better and having plenty of muscle they will have something to work with to give you a bit of relief.

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  • Posted

    When I had an enflamed rotator cuff in my right shoulder a couple of years ago, that actually helped massively - swimming was really good and as well as the cortisone injection, i got full mobility back pretty quickly.

    Wish that was the answer for me this time - but my left arm, where the pain is, is completely unuseable in this way. I can't stretch it very far in front (changing gears is a pain - literally lol) or behind me or to the side. Swimming on holiday this year was hilarious - one arm moving as it should and the other doing tiny baby strokes close to my body - I just swam in circles all the time. Any over stretching reduces me to tears with the pain.

    I don't know if anyone else has this problem - I think CS effects people in a few different ways though, and it may work really well for someone else.

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  • Posted

    Oh by the way - the TENS machine. Don't bother. It makes your muscles jump and tense up. Therefore it traps the nerves even more etc., caused me more pain than before. Tens machine is now relogated to ebay.

    My next new trial : natural anti-inflams called Bromelain. Found them when ordering my mega order of various glucosamines, fish oils etc., Supposed to be a powerful natural anti-inflams targetting pain, swelling etc.

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  • Posted

    Hi Brenda

    Another tip to help relieve your symptoms.

    Chew gum - yes I chew all day. It is not very posh to look at but it releases the tension in my neck and it really helps.

    Perhaps you are not too impressed at this stage about my idea of starting to swim but please don't let that put you off this idea.

    There are some really nice chewing gums on the market and the idea is to chew as much as you can all day long. As with the swimming this also builds up the muscles to support the cervical spine.

    I hope that you have managed to get some physio by now and that you are feeling a little better.

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  • Posted

    I think that what Lin says is true. CS affects people in different ways. Solutions that work for one person, do not always work for someone else.

    By all means listen to other people's advice, but don't take it as gospel. Swimming is a fantastic exercise, and something that I used to love doing. If you can do it great, if you can't don't beat yourself up, find something that you can do instead.

    I was diagnosed with Cervical Spondylosis in my neck 5.5 years ago. I lost 50% of all movement. I have regained movement, but it is limited. It has also affected my uppper body strength, I cannot swim any more. I also had to give up work, gardening, dancing, I cannot drive anymore for longer than 20 mins, preferably not at all. Reversing in particular is difficult. I cannot carry out some housework - like hoovering, ironing, folding clothes, lifting etc. Sometimes I struggle peeling veg, and I drop things involuntarily. I get tired very easily, and I have to do physical things in short periods.

    I also found that TENS machines had no effect.

    However, taking flax oil every day, trying to keep active (within reason), doing the things that I can do: walking everywhere, pilates, (on hold at the moment, but will go back to), and not doing the things that aggravate my condition work. I do not take painkillers everyday. At the most I take Ibruprofen.

    It is very difficult, and it takes time, but you have to learn to live and adapt to this condition.

    I hope that this helps

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  • Posted

    I think that what Lin says is true. CS affects people in different ways. Solutions that work for one person, do not always work for someone else.

    By all means listen to other people's advice, but don't take it as gospel. Swimming is a fantastic exercise, and something that I used to love doing. If you can do it great, if you can't don't beat yourself up, find something that you can do instead.

    I was diagnosed with Cervical Spondylosis in my neck 5.5 years ago. I lost 50% of all movement. I have regained movement, but it is limited. It has also affected my uppper body strength, I cannot swim any more. I also had to give up work, gardening, dancing, I cannot drive anymore for longer than 20 mins, preferably not at all. Reversing in particular is difficult. I cannot carry out some housework - like hoovering, ironing, folding clothes, lifting etc. Sometimes I struggle peeling veg, and I drop things involuntarily. I get tired very easily, and I have to do physical things in short periods.

    I also found that TENS machines had no effect.

    However, taking flax oil every day, trying to keep active (within reason), doing the things that I can do: walking everywhere, pilates, (on hold at the moment, but will go back to), and not doing the things that aggravate my condition work. I do not take painkillers everyday. At the most I take Ibruprofen.

    It is very difficult, and it takes time, but you have to learn to live and adapt to this condition.

    I hope that this helps

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  • Posted

    Hi Brenda, Along with a host of other ailments, I have suffered cs since 1999. Have had the opportunity to visit several physiotherapists and tried chinese tui na massage. What I have learnt is: massage (sports, medical or chinese etc) helps to relieve muscle pain. Mobilisation and loosening of the joints is even better.

    So a good therapy session is joint mobilisation, massage and heat treatment. Have also tried traction and that is really good relief.

    Good and inexpensive tip to help yourself: Get some tennis balls, pop each into a sock and roll it up - this keeps the dye from getting to you and keeps the balls clean too. When I am suffering pain, I just pop them on my bed or cushion and lie on top or lean against the balls. Position them at strategic pain spots and roll your back gently. The hard balls make great massage points.

    My therapist also taught a simple exercise to loosen the neck joints and muscle:

    Sit straight up on a cushioned chair. Put your right palm down on the cushion and trap it down with your right buttock.

    Facing straight ahead, put your left palm over your right ear and press your head to the left gently. You should feel a stretch along the side of your neck and the junction of your neck and shoulder. Count slowly to 10. Release.

    Then, maintaining right arm position, turn head to face your left shoulder. Place left hand on top of head and press down gently. Again, you should feel stretch on your neck muscles. Count slowly to 10. Release.

    Do the entire exercise in reverse for the left side of neck.

    Do this every hour or two..... that was the recommendation.

    Hope this helps.

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  • Posted

    Hi there,

    I am suffering with cervical spondylosis for the last 30 years ( I am 57 now) and am told by the doctors that my case is in an advanced stage.

    However, though sometimes ( 4 to 5 days a month), I do feel serious pain with terrible headache yet as a whole, I am almost normal most of the days.

    I am a firm believer in physiotherapy and do the following neck exercies:

    1. with my right hand, I apply pressure on my right cheek and let the head turn to left and sametime, try to push back the head to the right.

    Similarly with the left hand, apply pressure on the left cheek and so on.

    2. with head looking straight, I apply pressure with my right hand on my left cheek and without moving the head, I try to press my head againt the opposite force.

    3. I try to keep my posture as straight as possible both standing and sitting.

    These exercises have helped me very much in my CS and my head movement both ways is excellent.

    I do hope that my experiences will help those in pain due to CS.

    Please do write in case you feel any relief.

    Ashok Kumar Agarwal

    New Delhi, India

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