Sorry this is a long post…
I have been having a problem with an old neck muscle injury that I can’t seem to control very well and was wondering if anyone has had to deal with something similar or might could offer some advice that might help as it is a very annoying thing to deal with from one day to the next.
Some time around September-December 2002, I injured my neck doing an incline bench press. The pain I experience runs along a line from the middle part of my jaw bone straight down along roughly the location of the carotid artery ending around my collar bone. You know where you would feel to check your pulse? Well put your hand there and push inward a bit. Right there I feel a constant lump in my throat. I feel this normally and especially when I swallow. Otherwise it is just a dull constant ache. Sometimes that muscle feels tight.
Here is what I have done about it to date and a little more about the symptoms as I have paid fairly close attention to it over time.
- Had an MRI of the neck. Came back completely normal
- Took x-rays. Nothing showed up.
- Did a barium swallow to check for espohageal issues. No problem with swallowing etc. In fact the specific muscle I use to swallow doesn’t seem to be the injured muscle at all. I can control the swallowing without influencing the feeling of the lump if I have to. Tough to describe…
- Went to see an otolaryngologist. He ran a check of my vocal cords, stuck tube down nose, again all is normal. Never once have I had a speech problem due to this.
- Medications I have ‘briefly’ tried muscle relaxers and anti-inflamatories (vioxx, zanaflex, aspirin specifically). I haven’t noticed relief from these though I haven’t taken them for more than about 2 weeks at a time though.
- I went to see an orthopeodic sports medicine specialist and described all physical aspects of the injury I could. He was not sure what else to try save possibly some physical therapy of some sort.
- Both my GP and the sports medicine specialist said the same thing. Normally these types of injuries heal on their own. Especially muscle injuries. Surgery is rarely used. I figured it would get better in time also. Apparently not.
From my own experience:
- Given my medical diagnosis, I tend to think this may very well be muscular in nature. The tests I have had run couldn’t check for a specific muscle injury. So many little muscles in the neck.
- The injury is aggravated by heat. A hot shower, a hot cup of coffee or other hot food aggravate it. Cardiovascular work like bike riding, running etc. Anything that gets too much blood flowing seems to inflame and tighten the area somewhat. High rep, depletion style weight training with little rest b/w sets seems to inflame it. So this tends to make cardio and higher rep work somewhat unenjoyable.
3). Regarding weight training. I took 3-4 weeks off right after the injury to let it heal. Didn’t help. I took 2 whole months off of training in July and August of 2003. Didn’t help. Low rep strength training type work hasn’t bothered the injury to any great extent. Deadlifting, wearing a backpack, squatting…those types of activities slightly stretch the muscle while I am doing it but don’t seem to really aggravate it. i.e. I don’t feel worse afterwards.
- Weather is a huge issue. It felt much better in the winter or any time it was cold outside. Even remotely warm weather brings on a lot of annoyance.
- It usually feels better upon waking. I tend to sleep with that muscle in an unstretched position. I.e. sleeping on stomach with head turned toward left chest area. Relieves tension on that muscle.
6)Even sitting in a chair at a computer can be a problem. It probably feels best when I am standing and there is little pressure on it.
- Very cold food tends to help, like ice cream bars. I have also thought of trying a cool pack around my neck. Since the muscle is pretty deep in my neck surface coolness like that seems to take some time for even minor relief. Not sure I want to walk around with a collar on my neck all day either!
Chewing gum and constantly chewing foods seems to help a fair amount.
- Drinking ice cold drinks obviously may help.
What I am looking for is at least two-fold. I really want to take a more proactive stance at combating this problem. I would also like to figure out more about what my specific injury may be. Everything I have tried so far seems to only provide at best temporary relief. I can’t see my way to a more permanent solution. If I could I would pursue it most definitely. Right now, I am focusing on a stretching regimen for that part of the neck to see how that helps.
Part of me thinks that it is just my everyday activities of life that are aggravating it. If darn near everything I do could irritate it, I don’t see how I can heal it short of longterm bedrest lol. I am also wondering if it could somehow be nerve related or if it could just be pressing places in my neck that cause referred pain somehow.
So if you have any ideas about my problem or could help me better focus my efforts at improving this condition, I would love to hear them. I am open to anything that may help.
A sincere thanks in advance for this one!