Yes, it will heal, but it will possibly take a lot longer time than you’re going to be happy about. It took about four months for my pain and symptoms to completely disappear.
These are some of the things the Lord led me to try before finally breaking down and getting in to see a doctor:
- A heating pad, as soon as it cooled I reheated it
- Hot showers, as hot as I could stand and for as long as the hot water lasted
- A TENS unit (a really good one), used non-stop until the gel pads dissolved and wouldn’t stick to my skin any more. Don’t think it really helped, but was at least a distraction from the pain.
- Deep tissue massages, three visits in two weeks; I don’t recommend deep tissue because the sore muscles only add to the pain issues, and it all seemed to aggrivate the nerves, but a nice Swedish massage with some trigger point may be helpful.
- A deep thumping electronic massager, like the TENS unit, not sure how helpful it was, but it was a welcome distraction from the intense pain.
- Anti-inflammatory medications, very helpful
- A cervical collar, helpful, but only for short periods during the day, helpful at night with a neck pillow and other pillows to prop up under my back.
- Pain relieving gels/creams (Salonpas), very helpful
- Exercise, helpful, but painful
…and total non-activity, helpful
Everything I researched said DO NOT SEEK A CHIROPRACTOR FOR YOUR NECK (cervical spine) unless your chiropractor is highly skilled in neck treatment. If after fully examining you with x-rays he suggests light traction and physical therapy exercises, ice and heat therapy, massage and trigger point therapy, and even laser treatments (like are used for neuropathy), rather than mentioning an “adjustment,” you’ve got a good Chiropractor. My GP said the back is okay to manipulate, but the neck (cervical vertebrae) should never be “adjusted.”
First things first…POSTURE!!!! It is of utmost importance that you correct your posture. I was a sloucher, and when my pain started I kind of babied it by slumping over. Worst thing I could have done. Sitting at the computer for hours and hours with head forward and arms extended is also the WORST thing!!! Texting, driving, reading a book, writing with head forward…WORST things.
The best way to get correct posture is when standing, to grab a piece of the hair on the very top of your head and give it a tug upward. Imagine that tuft of hair is connected to your spine by a string, and pull your spine into alignment. Keep your head tall, not tipped forward, not backward. Keep your back straight. Let your arms fall to the sides. Support your lumbar when sitting, or lying down.
Right and wrong ways to sit at a desk…
Good walking posture…
If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting at a desk or computer, here are some stretches that you should do to help prevent neck and pinched nerve problems …
And believe it or not, your diet is a huge deal too. I ditched all junk food and crammed my body with superfoods, natural probiotics and electrolytes – especially after doing my exercises and getting a massage. I ate a ton of blueberries, cherries, raisins, and apples – because I craved them. I ate dark chocolate, and Greek yogurt with active enzymes. I crunched on carrots and ate lots of salad (with power greens, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and vinaigrette dressings) and mostly alkaline foods. And I drank tons of coconut water (the healthy brands without a ton of sugar and preservatives). Quite honestly though, coconut water doesn’t taste very good unless it has some sweetener in it, and it must be ICE cold, but it is much better for you than Gatorade. Also, Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and you can buy it in capsule form. Fish Oil, with Omega Fatty Acids, is also supposed to be good for inflammation.
I finally sought out a doctor when the pain was unbearable and wasn’t getting any better. As it turns out the doctor that I was able to get in with also knew personally the pain of a pinched nerve and started me down the path to recovery.
I couldn’t sleep in my bed. I couldn’t lie down at all without screaming pain in my neck/back. The only position I seemed to be able to get into that would give me some relief from my pain was to sit in a chair, legs apart, leaned forward as if tying my shoes, resting my head on a pillow on the table in front of me, and letting my arms dangle to my toes between my legs with my palms down and fingers aimed toward me. When husband was home, he would lay my hot pad (microwave flax-seed filled, as hot as possible without burning the seeds) across my shoulders and neck. I would stay in that position until my legs fell asleep. It was truly the most debilitating thing that has ever happened to me. A nightmare!
The pain actually started on Christmas day. I woke up with it that morning. At first it was just a stabbing pain between my left shoulder blade and spine. It felt like someone had stabbed me with a pencil in the Trapezius muscle and wouldn’t take it out. I had range of motion, but was just terribly uncomfortable. In hindsight it might have been from sitting too long in front of the computer working on a project, or it could have been something that I lifted and carried that I shouldn’t have, although neither of those activities alerted me to knowingly injuring myself.
My stabbing pain was accompanied by a little area of numbness just above that felt as if little bugs were crawling under my skin. If I’d have known what to do at this point, boy, I sure would have done it. And now when this kind of pain comes on me I jump on it with the tennis ball treatment. I now use a dog toy size tennis ball, stand with my back up against a wall, and place that ball right in the area of the pain. I lean hard against the ball and use my body to roll it around until I find the offending spasms. Then I do trigger point therapy on that spot, holding the ball hard against that area for several minutes until I feel it kind of relax. Then I use my body to roll the ball around and rub out that area, then go on to feel for more. After 10 or 15 mintues of trigger point therapy I put the ball away, get an ice pack, and lay in a chair against a pillow for support with the ice pack against the place where I rubbed with the tennis ball. I keep the ice on until it isn’t cold any more – about 30 minutes. This has worked well for keeping my back from every progressing to worse pain, as it did that first time.
Not having the tennis ball info for this first spell I thought it would just go away on its own and tried to ignore it. A day or two later the pain began radiating under my shoulder-blade area. It then began to roll down the bones of my left arm like molten lava, first the underside (triceps) part of my arm, to the elbow, and then up and over my forearm (brachioradialis muscle), and down into my wrist. Then it bled into the web between my thumb and pointer finger, and then my pointer finger went numb. That’s when I started thinking it was a pinched (entrapped) nerve.
The bone deep aching nerve pain in my arm was the worst of all. It was the worst at night and nothing I did helped. I wrapped my arm in my hot pad and elevated it. I tried squeezing a ball. I tried ice. I put the TENS unit on it. I wrapped it. I pressed it against the wall at a 90 degree angle with my palm up (my massage therapist suggested this), and that helped a little, and hot hot hot showers seemed to help.
I would have gone to a doctor sooner if I’d have had one, but my primary care physician had just recently closed his practice. I didn’t know any other doctors in my community that were accepting new patients. I live in a community where the doctors require you to fill out an application and after they’ve had a chance to review the application will decide whether they wish to take you as a patient. It is a long, drawn out process.
PLUS, I kept thinking it was getting better.
But every time I thought I was getting better I would do something to set myself back. First set back was a monstrous SNEEZE that undid all the good I felt I had accomplished over the previous two-week period. The second was when I tried to do some yard work and over-did it. The sore muscles irritated the nerve pain. Third was when I grabbed something from a pantry shelf just a little above my head and it caused a jar beside it to tumble off. I flinched and reached to save it from crashing to the floor and once again was on my knees in tears.
I finally found a doctor 40 miles away that could see me. Husband took the day off work and drove me over. It was agony to be in the vehicle for that drive, but finally seeing someone who might be able to help was what got me through it.
He sent me to the hospital for x-rays and prescribed a 6-day steroid. Some muscle relaxers (and even a stronger pain medicine than Ibuprofen) would have been nice, but for whatever reasons he didn’t prescribe them. He did inform me that I could not take both Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium together, even staggered, but could stagger whichever one with Tylenol for a short while.
I took the (nasty) 6-day steroid and waited for the results of the x-rays. The doctor never got back to me on the x-rays, but did have the Physical Therapy people contact me to set up an appointment. It was another miserable, 40-mile-each-way trip to see them, but they did tell me the results of my x-ray (which showed only a minor narrowed area, which they said was normal for my age).
Physical Therapy was the thing that healed me! God bless the physical therapists.
I had a wonderful therapist who assessed my pain issues, and measured me for range of motion and pain triggers. She tried to do some traction (which actually hurt me more than helped unfortunately), but she also did a couple of chiropractic maneuvers in the shoulder-blade area that didn’t hurt at all (or really help either). Finally she set me up with some exercises and made me do them during my visit; and then she iced me with a huge cold pack that covered my whole neck and back for about 20 minutes (which felt wonderful, and was very helpful). She told me to use heat whenever, and before doing my exercises (to loosen things up) but then ice afterward for at least 20 minutes. She also gave me a tennis ball to use to roll on my back against a wall and massage the areas that hurt, and work on the trigger points. It worked wonders!!! And icing afterwards helped tons.
She sent me home with a few sheets of the exercises with instructions. And wanted to see me in a week to assess whether the exercises were helpful or not. I’m sharing them with you because they were extremely effective!!!
I also encourage you to search the Internet for blogs and conversations about whatever issue you are dealing with. I found a blog that led me to The Spine Institute which has wonderful information on the McKenzie neck exercises and other issues of the spine, including the sciatic nerve. (I apologize for this guy’s excessive talking, but hang in there for the info. It’s worth it).
I confess I never made it back for another session of Physical Therapy as I ended up coming down with the flu not long after finishing the steroids, and then another flu bug back to back of the first one, both lasted weeks, but I did faithfully do the exercises she gave to me to do every day, and they fixed me!!!! Thank God. No surgery. By the time I was over the flu I was also doing much better with the pinched nerve. It has been four months since this affliction first hit, but I am finally over all my symptoms, and even have regained feeling in my finger. My arm has completely stopped having numb sensations, and no numb spot in my back with the feeling of bugs crawling under my skin.
I try not to sit at my computer for too long before getting up and doing something physical. I don’t text on my phone with my head down. And I watch my posture like a hawk.
Another very helpful thing, certainly the most spiritually helpful, was to meditate on the scriptures in God’s word that speak of healing. Pastor John Hagee has created a You Tube video that was amazing to listen to when I wanted to sleep but was in so much pain…
I hope something here has helped you with your neck pain today. May God speed healing your way. In His precious name I pray for you. God bless.