Stiff neck and muscle pain for two years. Not sure what there is left for me to do.

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I looked over another thread where the writer seems to have a similar problem to mine, but I thought it might help me more if I posted my own specific issues and history, especially because no one so far has given that person a solution that has fixed the problem.

I never had trouble with neck pain throughout my life. But almost exactly 2 years ago, some friends of mine who were living here in Japan were moving away and had stuff to get rid of. They had this big desk and they said I could have it for free, and I thought, “Hey, I need a desk! I’ll take it.” Little did I realize how tall it actually was when sitting at it, and unfortunately, my chair at the time was in a permanently reclined position, and so when I would use my computer (and sometimes I can spend too much time at the computer at once), my arm would be stretched way forward and upward to use the mouse, and I didn’t realize how bad my posture had become and the repercussions it would have even to this day. Before I knew it, I started having a lot of trouble with neck pain.

I started going to my local osteopath. And over these two years I have gone to him countless times, usually once a week until recently; I haven’t been going because I’m tired of him squeezing my neck with his hand. I tell them it hurts the sides of my neck when he squeezes, but he always seems to do it again the next time I come. He uses some massaging in addition to things like electrical pads, and while it seems like it helps some, it definitely hasn’t fixed the problem, obviously.

I also went to an orthopedist, and all he did after giving me a quick check over was give me a handout with information about different stretches I can do. I’ve been doing most of those stretches every night to this day, and it helps, but it’s not enough.

I’ve also occasionally gone for massages, but unless I have a lot of confidence that it is going to fix me I’m reluctant to go because I need to watch my money very carefully and massages are the most expensive option I’ve looked at so far.

I’ve considered going for a CT scan to better assess the problem, but I’m hoping to avoid that if possible because I’m worried about additional costs (I do at health insurance but still).

I’ve also considered trying acupuncture but I’m worried that all that’s going to do is temporarily help relieve some of the pain but not actually fix the problem.

The other thing that I’ve thought about is exercising my neck, because it’s so sensitive I’m not sure which exercises would be safe to do. I’ve tried to do a little swimming, but I haven’t done enough to see if it’s been helping or not. It’s also hard to do anything consistently because I’m usually working, and to be honest, if I’m using much of what free time I do have to be doing exercises and other stuff, it’ll just make me frustrated because I already don’t have as much free time as I wish I did and there’s other stuff I want to and need to do.

I’ve looked up my problem on the Internet to see if I could find additional good stretches and stuff for my neck, but so far nothing has worked.

One person I know, who is a personal fitness trainer, noticed that my alignment is not good because when I let my arms hang at rest my palms face behind me, instead of toward my legs like they should. He gave me a sort of stretchy rubber tube that I could pull to try and fix that, but I found that before long it was only making my neck hurt.

I’ve also tried using heat, but that hasn’t seemed to help me much.

I’ve definitely noticed that looking down easily makes my neck hurt. Sometimes the small museum near me has special exhibits I like to go and see, and just spending an hour or two there looking down at the descriptions will make my neck sore for the rest of the day.

And unfortunately, I love to use my cell phone a lot. When I’m not playing games I’m using the Internet or making notes or something. I know this isn’t helping me, but honestly, even if I reduced my cell phone usage, in my free time I would probably be replacing it with something else that would involve me looking down, like reading a book or something. I try to be careful not to tilt my head too much, but it really takes nothing at all to make my neck feel more aggravated. I also find that if I use my cell phone while I’m walking, even if I’m holding it up so my head is hardly looking down at all, it makes my neck feel more aggravated than if I’m using it while sitting. So obviously I need to be careful, but I don’t consider illuminating using my cell phone recreationally as an option because that’s part of how I relax (though I guess I should be more mindful of how much time I’m spending using it).

I’m also wondering if I can help my situation with a better pillow, but I don’t really know what I need. Using a pillow when I’m lying on my back causes my neck to be pushed forward a little bit, so I just illuminate the pillow entirely in that case. I use one when I am on my stomach. It’s a firm pillow with beans inside instead of feathers.

As for which parts of my neck bother me the most, it’s primarily my left side. Here’s a link to a doodle I made to try and express where the problems are. Sorry it’s so sloppy but I did this with my thumb on my phone screen.

Basically, my sides are really stiff. If I turn my head to the right it hurts a lot more than when I turn it to the left. In fact, it feels a little relieving when I turn it to the left. I think this is somehow connected to me using my right arm so much when I hold my phone and do other stuff. The area I feel like is, for lack of a better way of putting it, the center of the pain, is just where the neck meets the skull on the left side. That’s the area where, when I get a massage, I always want the massage therapist to just press and hold for a long time in that one spot because it feels like a good, burning-type of relief sensation. But the problem runs through the muscles all the way down to where my shoulder and scapula are, and sometimes my left scapula muscles bother me as well. The right side is bad as well, but it’s the left I notice more when my neck is aggravated, for sure. Again, I think it’s connected to me using my right arm more.

I notice that even when I’m sitting at church in the pew, because my neck has no support, my neck will get more aggravated by the end of service, even though my neck is aligned with my spine, upright. And if my neck is bothering me and I just tip my head all the way back and let it sit there, looking up at the ceiling, if I do this much at all, though at first it feels good on my muscles, it puts stress on my neck bone. Even putting it back for a short time, when I bring my neck upright again, I feel my bone pop in one place near the middle of the neck bone. So obviously stress has been put on the bones as well.

And when I do my stretches, especially the one where I roll my head in a circular motion, I always can really hear a lot of loud crackling and sometimes popping. I do this stretch as well as looking up and down repetitively and tilting my head from side to side, though I don’t do that one much because it starts to make the sides of my neck hurt after doing it much. I also will connect my hands behind my back and pull my arms up and down. This one feels pretty good. Obviously my arms must be forward too much and so pulling the muscles back gives some relief.

It just doesn’t seem fair because I used to have my arms forward using my computer, playing my 3DS, or using my phone as in the past as I do now, and it never bothered me. But that short time with the new desk combined with the chair giving me such bad posture really messed me up, and now everything bothers my neck.

I know it’s important to mind my posture when I’m sitting in when I’m standing, and I know I probably should be reducing my time on my phone, but beyond that, I’m not really sure where to go from here. I feel like I’ve tried most of my options, and I would like some advice before I try to commit to something. I’m sorry this was such a long post but I really wanted to point out all the details and flesh it out. I really appreciate anyone who took the time to read this and anyone who has any advice to give! God bless.

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    I didn't see you mention using ice. Ice is absolutely essential for neck my in my opinion because it takes down inflammation, which is what you need. Get a gel type ice pack and put it right where the pain is, and do it often. A good cervical pillow can help a lot! Let me know and I'll show you the one I use - though everyone is different. Also there are natural supplements that bring down inflammation - turmeric and MSM are two. Additionally, moving and stretching often makes things worse in my opinion. Rest and resist the temptation to do stretches. I will share any info I have - neck pain is awful. Good posture is indeed crucial. These things have been successful for me.    

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    • Posted

      No stretching? That sounds pretty radical. Are you sure?

      I avoid anything cold as I’m afraid it will only make my neck stiffer. Is that really a good idea?

      What pillows would you recommend? I feel like I need something with good support that allows my head to tip back some rather than being forced forward when I’m lying on my back, because that only makes my pain worse.

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    • Posted

      Yes, I'm sure about ice. It takes down inflammation. As far as stretching, it won't hurt to give your neck a rest and allow some healing. I

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  • Posted

    I’m in a similar spot so I understand. It’s a long shot but you could look at Facebook CuraListic. He recommends no stretching while it’s tight. 
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  • Posted


    I found this place in San Diego, CA called RejuVitize. The practitioner uses these smooth, metal tools to release the tension on the muscles and it lasts a long time. Actually, they fixed my neck, I could barely turn it. If you live in the area, this may be your best bet. I think there is a website under the same name where you can read about it. Hope you feel better soon.

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