When is a Neck Normal?
Maybe it happens in all professions?
The late Leonard Coen sang “There is a crack in every thing. Thats how the light gets in.”
Perhaps surgeons overwhelmingly see chiropractors’ failures? Of course they do. Does this warrant statement that much of chiropractic is dangerous? And I have seen medically injured patients too. Just because I spoke about it once or twice I got crucified as ‘anti this and that’ on the internet by groups with typing skills surpassing their ability to observe variation in perceptions. I am not “anti anything”, just apt to question. But you can read all the lies about me on the nearest google search some day, because “skeptics” don’t like it when you oppose their skepticism with scepticism (sic). Its frightfully convenient that only they’re allowed to be questioning… Back to the point:
I am not anti-neurologist, either. I refer to them several times a year. And they’re stellar physicians, the ones I choose because they have knowledge, are minimally invasive and treat respectfully.
I have come across some certainties in life. Not many, but some are. Like the flavour of my mum’s home made tagliatelle. Its the benchmark for all cuts of dough to this day. But what gets into neurologists who take your well earned dough and tell you that your neck is normal when it isn’t?
Its getting to me. It’s hurting patients. And it deserves a blog…
Your damaged disc is just normal ageing?
Degenerative cervical disc disease is not always natural ageing. The truth is, sometimes it is, sometime it isn’t. And certainly not when its traumatically induced.
Once a neurologist said to a patient and I quote: “there is no way the neck is related to any type of headache”. But of course, the patient was probably deaf or stupid, it is presumed. He could not possibly have said that.
Most people can have degenerative cervical discs, decreased disc spaces, minor bulges and loss of lordosis and lead perfectly sane, painless, and happy lives. I know it.
Alas, When the disc is either:
- desiccated (yep like dried coconut)
- protruding into sequestration (not much comfort there as it pokes into central nerves)
- encroaching on nerve roots unrelentingly (ouch)
- cause vasovagal responses (yucky feelings)
- weakening a dominant-hand shake (I look like Arnold S, shake like a Phyllis Diller)
- causing a weak muscle reflex (clumsy)
- causing insomnia through constant nociceptive (pain signals) firing (baaah 1, baaah 2, …)
- disrupting autonomic nerve function (I can’t even eat this bland tofu)
- chronically actuating a sympathetic cascade stress response through spinal pathway stimulation… (smart words)
- contributing to cognitive decline/changes…etc. (brain fog is a good one I heard first about 10 years ago, now its in the parlance)
You CANNOT TELL THE PATIENT ITS NORMAL, or “go home and live with it” or merely “take these antidepressants” !
This is precisely the point where I rely on intelligent and diligently educated neurosurgeons.
Recently, a patient came in bearing gifts, his wife beside him in tears. I knew I was good, right, but, it turns out it wasn’t even about the treatment.
They continued by stating that if they had not met me they’d be lost and hopeless thinking nothing happened to his neck when he was suddenly kicked in the head during martial arts. This caused an obvious damage of at least two discs clearly shown on MRI. See image below.
An irresponsible neurologist ignored it as a cause of any of the myriad symptoms and syndromes he had developed.
I see these cases time after time… after time.
Doing the right thing isn’t always popular
Being a graduate of the oldest chiropractic college in the world means I was exposed to a “cervico-centric” education. That is, the neck was where the commotion and motion was at. The action. The vibe. The Lux! Yes we got microbiology, medical pathology and radiographic diagnosis… thank goodness.
A patient of mine, so utterly disgusted at his lack of neurological vindication that his recumbent BP of 70/40 (among other poor health nightmares) was not psychosomatic, went and started his own A-Neck-Dotes blog!
Twenty or so years later it means that I study a lot of necks and whats co-NECK-ted to them – Pain, sorrow, fear, stiffness, vertigo, brain fog, headache, umbilicus (a while ago anyway, wrapped around it), whiplash, suffering, more suffering and more fear of the future. Will I get better? What is the cause? Will my spouse stick around while I go mad?
Basically what we need to get across is that the most important thing your neck is connected to is … a person! The neck area carries through it:
- every nerve from the body to the brain to tell it whats going on
- blood pipes from heart, also gauges managing pressure
- muscles that carry information that is like a million computers (I made that up) to affect balance, movement and motion
Commonly I get images like these:
This unfortunate male in his 3rd decade was kicked in the head in a sporting match.
The scan delineates extensive disc damage and his symptoms were clearly associated with all sorts of debilitating sympathetic effects and neurological symptoms which were starting to extend deeply into behavioural patterns. His life had become almost unliveable.
One of the doctors he saw was a specialist neurologist who advised that it was normal ageing.
This stuff infuriates me. For one, degenerative discs at the high level are rare, and the traumatic history described the site of injury satisfactorily. Also, athletic, healthy men in their 20s do not suddenly think suicidal thoughts the month after being knocked unconscious and having to deal with constant pain.
Please, neurologists and neurosurgeons, doctors, and yes some chiropractors too: listen to the patient. And do not dismiss necks like this as insignificant. You damage people, disempower them and make them feel like fools (with light wallets) for no benefit at all. Except perhaps that one day, one of these 6 foot giant kick boxers (not on antidepressants) might take it a bit hard and find a crack to let the light in.