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Need your help/advice with a neck/shoulder problem


jimbrake
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Hey ballers. Thought I'd turn to you all as a group and specifically any of you that are physios, orthopaedics, or just have experience similar to mine for help with a physical issue I'm having with my neck. The problem: I've been having intense stress in my traps and into my neck muscles related to skiing (I'm sure most of you are familiar with how much stress slalom puts on our shoulders/traps/upper back). So bad in fact, that it is either affecting nerves or blood flow to my head. It's been so bad that it's actually affected my thinking and emotional demeanor - kind of almost like a mild depression of sorts, which I have never ever experienced in my life, so there is no predisposition to depression. I also can get very light-headed from time to time. I know it sounds crazy, that this can be related to skiing, but it is. I don't know the exact problem, but I do know that it is related to stress/overworking of my shoulders/traps and that is basically "pinching" my lower to mid cervical area and having this nearly debilitating affect on my head. Also, a year ago I took a bad out-the-front where I landed squarely on my right shoulder. That impact really tweaked my shoulder, clavicle, and right side of my neck. I've just started working with a physical therapist and they have shown me some neck stretches, but that's it so far. Plus, no one that doesn't ski understands what the stresses are. My thought is that I may need to work the muscles in different ways than the constant pull stress that slalom causes. Maybe I need shrugs or presses or something rotational - something completely differently than the slalom pull.

 

I've got good aligned body position when skiing, so this isn't related to working hard against the boat in some funky, out of alignment position. I generally ski four days a week, probably an average of six sets. Been skiing in the course for a long time (since '75) so a lot of accumulated stress. I have NEVER had this issue until this season - something is seriously f'ed up in my neck. I appreciate any thoughts or suggestions any of you may have.

 

Jim

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Ditto what eyepeeler said. Go to a really good PT AND a really good sports chiropractor AND a really good sports massage therapist. And then also go to anybody they tell you to go to.

 

Most likely you need a variety of body work and a variety of small muscle exercises.

 

Also, getting younger would probably help :).

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Thanks, guys.

 

@eyepeeler - really? I thought you could get anything on the interwebs.

 

As stated, I'm currently working with a PT. Have already worked with a chiro and a message therapist (who is a skier, so gets what I'm going through). Seeing primary care MD tomorrow to get a referral to an appropriate specialist.

 

@richarddoane - not a bad idea. My wife has done some acupuncture with some good success. May look into that.

 

@Than_Bogan - I'm a pretty damn young 54. Age never enters the equation for me. I just keep pounding away at water skiing, snow skiing, surfing, swimming. Could be part of the problem actually.

 

 

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You may want to find a 'good' chiropractor. Not one that wants you to come in 3 times a week for 8 weeks, 2 times a week for 6 week and then weekly after that. Find one that will work with you to understand the various stresses placed on your body from skiing, and will show you how to properly stretch specific muscles before and after skiing.

 

I skied 5+ years with pain not too dis-similar to what you are describing. Went to a Chiro (who I later determined was a quack) that a friend recommended, and it did not help. Relocated and found a great Chiro that helped me figure out the issue (my supraspinatus muscle needs to be fully stretched before skiing) and I've skied pain free ever since.

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I'd say get to a specialist ASAP. Orthopedist maybe. If it is a nerve problem the stretching my be aggregating it more. I had a shoulder problem last year that was effecting my left side neck, trapps, down to my forearm. Hurt so bad I couldn't sleep. Shots and therapy fixed it took a while though.
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@jimbrake The problem is that healing rate slows gradually starting from birth. Eventually, damage that you may have been able to heal for many years can suddenly build up into a serious problem.

 

Obviously, getting younger was a joke. But age changes the equation, even if you are in great condition.

 

Some small change may be enough to overcome it -- the hard part is figuring out what that needs to be!!

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@Than_Bogan - no worries. I knew you were kidding. You are right about healing as you get older. I've noticed in the past few years that even if I can do pretty much what I did at a younger age, I now need more healing and recovery time.

 

@LakeOneSkier - I've been through the "good" chiro/"bad" chiro thing myself. I know when I've got a good one and when I don't. Chiro seems to be good for short-term relief, but not really giving me a long-term solution.

 

@gregy - yes, hoping to do that soon.

 

One thing I didn't mention in my initial post was that about two weeks ago I had a severe strain in my neck (not skiing related) that actually caused a very sharp pain in my right temple. So bad that I was thinking along the lines of "aneurism?", "swelling?", "bleeding?". I was moderately freaked out. Went right to the doc and he surmised nothing serious happened. That was the beginning of the changes I've noticed in my thinking and emotions. I'm hoping to get a specialist to check out my head via MRI or some other form of imaging to see if I did some sort of damage. The pain in the temple is gone, but I was left in a "fog" that was persistent until late yesterday. Much better today, but I'm still concerned about any damage that may have been done.

 

Sorry, I know this is getting weird and sounds unrelated to skiing, but believe me, it's related. It all started with the trap/neck tension and cervical "pinching" and that comes from skiing for sure. We'll see what the specialist says.

 

On a side note, yes, my skiing has gone to complete crap as a result of all this. I'm taking this week off as I just need a break. I'll be anxious to get back though as I recently have found some great things in my skiing that I look forward to working on until the end of the season.

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You may want to consider an evaluation by a physiatrist. A physiatrist is a physician who often specializes in the nonoperative treatment of neck and back problems. They are also known as rehab docs, or physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists. They can help to give you a proper diagnosis, prescribe appropriate medications if needed, order therapy, and occasionally perform injections. They can also help treat any associated depression symptoms or refer you if needed. Good luck.
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@jimbrake- you may want to consider getting your neck X rayed. I was suffering from similar symptoms (except the emotional changes) starting years ago, and a chiropractor didn't help. Turns out I had "severe bony encroachment of the nueral foramens" in most of my C spine. In laymens terms, it is bone spurs in the openings where the nerves leave the vertabrae. There are procedures that can relieve the symptoms, including shots and surgery, but unfortunately, I am not a candidate for either. I have to live with it. I did find some relief with acupuncture however.
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