A chronic pain in the neck; no I’m not talking about my dating life. Although that would be an accurate state of those affairs. I’m actually speaking literally when I say I have a pain in my neck. I have the most painful incessant kink in my neck. Unlike most neck kinks that last for a few days — a week at tops, this pain has been going on for three years. Three long, long, long years. I’ve had no relief from the constant ache; not a day, an hour, a minute, not even a few seconds pain free. The tightness in my neck and shoulders makes me so tired, and often I end up with headaches — worst yet, migraines. Over the years, I have had times where the ache is just there. I’ve become used to it, yet it is always present. Sometimes, however, it really flairs up and becomes intolerable. The muscles become so stiff that I can barely move my neck. My shoulders round up to my ears, and every muscle in my body stiffens from the stress of getting through the day with the pain. I am currently in that “sometimes.”
For about a month, I have been trying to get the flair up to settle down. I have been to massage therapy, chiroprator, physiotherapy, accupuncture, and I have tried hot/cold treatments to no avail. When this sydrome first developed I visited my general practioner several times. He sent me for x-rays, a CAT scan, and then finally to the neurologist. Nothing came up on any of the tests except for a slight visual pull of my spine to the right. This, they explained, was because of the extremely tight musculature around my neck and shoulder area. Hmmmm, I think I could have told them that. My doctor prescribed me to take advil (as he never gives me anything stronger) for the pain and told me to try massage. Over the years, I have been to several chiropractors for adjustments, massage therapy for facia release and deep tissue work, three different accupunturists, physio for IMS (needling), rolfing (never again), and nothing has touched it. As a personal trainer, I have tried stabilizing exercises and yogo to try and fix the muscle imbalance the tight muscles have caused, but that hasn’t worked either.
I’m tired today, and really really frustrated. Over the weekend, I started reading about the central nervous system and how you can heal your parasympathtic system using deep breathing and relaxation techniques. I broadened my research for alternative healing methods and came across the book “The Brain’s Way of Healing”, by Norman Doidge, M.D. This is a self-help book that describes your brains power to heal the body. It focuses on using neuroplasticity — basically the ability to rewire your brain. The techniques described involve using your thoughts to change your brains wiring. Additionally, neuroplasticity can be altered by some sensations, movements, and sounds. Basically, a person with chronic pain needs to think about living without pain, create visualization to diminish symptoms, remember what life was like before the pain, and belief that he or she will be able to be painfree again.
This reminds me a lot of cognative therapy. I have done a lot of therapy over the years to deal with my anxiety, and I have had good success using cognative treatement methods. Because I have nothing to lose at this time, and since I have tried almost everything else, I’m on board. Being me, the first thing I did was Google neuroplasticity. Wow — I had no idea it was such a popular subject. I came across Michael Moskowitz, M.D.’s website, the doctor featured in the book. His website gives some instruction to techniques a person can use to alleviate chronic pain. Of course, there is no easy “How to” section, so I read bits and pieces and tried to put together some kind of plan. My Sunday went something like this:
- Visualize the pain sensors going off in your brain when you feel pain. I visualized a brain with little lights glowing, and then I imagined the lights dimming until they were gone.
- Uses sensation – Ok, I rubbed some A535 on my neck
- Memory, try and remember life without the pain. I tried, it didn’t work well.
- Use vibrations to distract your brain – ummm, you will have to use your own imagination here because I’m not telling you what I did.
- Belief – I belief with all my heart this is going to work.
By the end of the evening, I smelled like a doctors office, couldn’t get the image of a brain out of my mind, but somehow I felt way more relaxed. Maybe that had something to do with step #4???
I am not so arrogant as to think I am qualified to treat meyself, however. This morning I went on a search for someone local who uses neuroplasticity for pain. I found zero – not one person in my small little town has jumped on this amazing medical miricle. I’m hoping that is because its a small town, and not because of the non-effectiveness of the treatment plan. I suppose my best bet is to read further into the book I purchased. The book hooked me immediately. I was only 16 pages in when I decided this was the treatement for me. I couldn’t read anymore, I had to fast track my research on Google. Reluctantly, I will pick up where I left off, and if I can control my enthusiam long enough to read on I might learn something.
Just like my anxiety disorder, I will throw myself into finding a cure for my ailment. My efforts over the past three years have fueled me to look for alternative treatment methods, and I’m sure this time I have found it (belief – step #5). At least today I have hope, as the pain becomes unbareable without it. Life after 40 is truely a major pain in the….