"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pain in the Neck

Graston Technique Tools.
They don't quite look like they would take away pain do they?
 All this week I've been thinking about how to write a post about the treatment I've had for my very own pain in the neck.

So many of us live with some sort of recurring pain issue: a bad back, a bum knee, a hip that grates in the socket or is off-balance.  As our bodies age it seems these injuries can just focus themselves and become chronic, ingrained.  We sort of adapt our movements to them, which doesn't help things.
Helpful diagram of the nasty cumulative injury cycle.
I've been suffering from migraines for years, decades even.  They would typically begin in my neck, often in a spasm of pain that would burn and then trigger the pain up one side of my head or the other (though often my right side).  The nausea would begin as soon as the neck pain set in, and then with the pain came the other migraine symptoms: extreme sensitivity to light and in my case, smell.

Last year these migraines became chronic: instead of having one every couple of weeks I started having them weekly, then twice a week, and then even three times a week... so that I felt like I was in a constant migraine (they typically would last 12 to 24 hours, followed by a "wobbly" recovery day).

People often talk about migraines beginning with neck pain, and that was always the case for me.  But when the migraines became chronic the pain in my neck took on a new quality: a burning , searing, constant pain.  I felt like there were little fires all up and down my neck, through to my shoulders.

I decided to go for physiotherapy and massage: enough was enough!

It was just dumb good fortune that I found a massage therapist who specializes in Graston Technique: I didn't even know what it was.  After explaining my pain, and the migraines, I told her about my "neck history".  I had Congenital Muscular Torticollis as an infant, and while my poor parents corrected it with physiotherapy exercises, I've always had issues with the right side of my neck.  It always felt tight and knotted, and while I have worked endlessly on my posture over the years with exercise, it typically felt tight and shortened, a bit higher, off-balance.

My therapist basically told me my neck muscles were knotted, and adhered together, with scar tissue (particularly on my right "Torticollis side"), and that I could benefit from some Graston Treatment.

The tools shown above are typical Graston tools, they are shaped bits of metal, and when applied into the neck tissue they smooth and scrape down the scar tissue.  As you can imagine this can leave quite a lot of bruising!
But it actually doesn't hurt, though it feels a bit tender afterwards.  I did wear lots of scarves to cover my bruises during treatment however... I didn't want to alarm anyone.

So I've had treatment for about three months now and my neck pain is gone.  I stopped having the neck-triggered migraines about two months ago.  I'm now in the maintenance stage, and when I went for my massage this week I didn't even have to have any Graston treatment at all.  I'm now working on strengthening the muscles in my back with careful exercises, this is to create a supportive structure for my neck (so that it doesn't revert to old patterns).

If you think you have any sort of scar tissue glomming up your muscles and causing you pain, I would highly recommend trying the Graston Technique.
It's a bit weird, but clearly it can work wonders!

Are you dealing with chronic pain of any sort?  Is an old injury the cause?

Hope you have a pain-free day!
xoxDani



26 comments:

  1. I am very pleased you have found a way to relieve your migraines.I had a recurrent bad back (from an original injury decades ago) that was only really fixed by going to pilates 3 times a week a couple of years ago. The relief of not suffering from ongoing pain is immense.

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    1. Sue it's amazing how helpful Pilates can be when done properly! I went to a Pilates instructor last spring for private sessions on the reformer and it really helped my shoulders and neck. I might go back to her as the weather warms up (it's quite a long walk from my house) for more sessions so she can help me strengthen the muscles that have been released. Pilates is genius! So happy you found a fix. xxx

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  2. How wonderful that you're not suffering with the neck pain any longer. I must admit, those tools look a bit like instruments of torture. I can only imagine what people would have been thinking if you didn't wear scarves after treatment!

    I am lucky to not know what a migraine is like. I have friends and family who are afflicted and it takes such a toll to have them, especially if they are frequent. It has to be such a relief to know that you're affecting the cause, or at least a major cause.

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    1. SD the bruising was REALLY bad, especially at first. It looked far worse than it felt. It's been a revelation to find something that actually works. Thank you SD xxx

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  3. Wow, I knew that you suffered from migraines, but I didn't realize they were SO frequent. I'm so glad that you have found something to help. Those tools do look scary though!

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    1. Patricia yes I've had them for years but last fall they started to become chronic and it's been AWFUL. Thank you! Yes the tools are very scary and I wasn't sure about the whole thing but let's face it I was desperate! xxx

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  4. Thank you so much for this post. I have had migraines almost my entire life, luckily not that often- perhaps one every few months. However, they are horrible and include non-stop vomiting and odd symptoms such as numbness. All that seems to help is literally packing my head in ice and hibernating in a dark room for 24 hours. I am glad you have found something effective and wish you migraine-free days from now on!

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    1. Dana your migraines sound so hideous. Have you tried the migraine meds? They didn't work for me but that's because I had this other trigger. I'm still getting hormone migraines though so I might try them again for those, they are a different beast from my neck-triggered migraines. I wish you migraine free days as well! xxx

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  5. So glad you have having some relief, Dani!!! I don't have any chronic pain (yet) but I certainly do sympathize with those who do!! Take care!

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  6. Is this similar to Gua Sha? It seems like the Western version of it. I'm so glad it's helping you. Although I'm not in a migraine period right now, I do go into them and it's really horrible, especially one after the other. So draining.

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    1. Kathy I think it is! I know that only because Naomi told me. So true, they are incredibly draining, the chronic cycle is brutal. I hope yours NEVER come back. xxx

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  7. All I can say is WOW! I had never heard of this technique - it's nothing short of amazing. I do not have migraines, but I have had chronic pain issues. I think I tend to hold a lot of tension in my body which leads to neck, shoulder, back, and hip pain. I regularly do yoga as that makes a real difference for me.

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    1. Jeannine I'm so happy yoga can work for you! I've tried yoga many times but it only gave me more pain and often triggered a migraine. I'm thinking of trying it again to see how I do, I'll have to modify some of the poses I think as I'm really trying not to strain my neck and back until I get them stronger. Do you go for massage? Nothing is better to treat tension in the body! xxx

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  8. So interesting - thank you for this I have forwarded this info to a family member who suffers from migraines ...amaz8ng. Anna26x

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    1. Anna there has to be other people who could benefit from this to treat migraines. I'm still having hormone migraines related to cycle but there's nothing for that, they feel different anyway, they are not as bad! xxx

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  9. VERY INTERESTING!
    I have an ITCH.......PAIN on my left shoulder down a bit!Lately a BURNING sensation......
    No Migraines.
    HAPPY YOU FOUND SOMEONE SMART ENOUGH!
    XX

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    1. Contessa thank goodness no migraines but maybe you should check that out, don't want it to get worse! Thank you Dear xxx

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  10. Fascinating. “Wry neck” is also found in children who have one eye stronger than the other, hence patching...

    i’m so glad to know that you found SOMETHING THAT WORKS.

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    1. Fred that's interesting! Weak side/strong side I'm guessing.
      It is amazing to find something that works, thank you xxx

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  11. Thanks for sharing, Dani! Glad you’re in less pain and I’ve passed on this info to my husband who has had a gummed up shoulder for a decade now, post two botched surgeries for a rotator cuff injury. To this day, he cracks open scar tissue in his spare time, literally breaking it himself by twisting and turning his shoulder. It’s neither a pretty sight nor a pleasant sound. I am hoping we can try his technique!

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    1. maqsad that sounds perfectly dreadful, your poor husband! Maybe he should try this, I hope he can find a practitioner. It might bring him real relief! xxx

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  12. I don't go as hard although i did bruise myself last week LOL. you can do gentle movements with it - you should youtube it - not like a proper practitioner but just a gentle maintenance if you will. plus they are made with horn - better than plastic - although i know some use jade or pink quartz - but they are gentle and not in the same vein as gaston! glad you found something that helps Dani x

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    1. Naomi I wonder if it's a bit like those roller things made of quartz? I have one I bought for facial massage, it actually really works under my eyes if I'm looking puffy from lack of sleep/too much salt. Thanks Naomi xxx

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  13. So happy to hear that there is a treatment (and you found it) that brought you relief!

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