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How my experience with neck pain changed my approach to treating your neck pain

I'd love to share my journey with you, one that started about a decade ago with a challenging neck injury.

Back then, I found myself struggling with a severe cervical disc protrusion, accompanied by nerve impingement. The pain was relentless, shooting from my neck to my right shoulder blade, down my arm, and even into my hand. Eventually, it led to numbness and pins and needles in my pinky finger, coupled with a loss of strength and coordination.

Beyond the physical agony, this condition triggered significant stress and anxiety as I pondered its impact on various aspects of my life:

  • Surfing, a passion of mine, became nearly impossible.

  • Socializing turned into a challenge due to constant discomfort and irritability, limiting my ability to sit comfortably for more than 20 minutes.

  • Sleep became elusive, with discomfort and pain disrupting my nights.

  • Concerns about my career, as the function of my hands was crucial for my work.

Opting for an MRI seemed like the logical step, but it only heightened my anxiety upon seeing the severity of my neck's condition—degenerated discs pressing on the spinal cord and nerve roots explained the excruciating pain.

After consulting with a neurosurgeon, I made the decision to schedule surgery for a microdiscectomy. However, I set the surgery date three months later, intending to focus on rehabilitation and address mechanical issues beforehand.

Determined to reclaim my health, I committed to a regimen of physiotherapy exercises, lifestyle adjustments, a new pillow, meditation, and gradually building strength through Pilates. These efforts gradually paid off as I noticed improvements in movement, posture, and breathing patterns.

Remarkably, surgery became unnecessary as my dedication yielded positive results. I regained my passion for surfing, improved sleep, regained strength, and found myself socializing comfortably once more—a significant victory!

From this experience, I learned invaluable lessons:

Empathy: Experiencing severe pain deepened my understanding of my clients' struggles, especially those dealing with nerve pain.

Expanding my knowledge: My recovery journey spurred me to delve into studying spinal conditions, pain management, the impact of breathing techniques on spinal health, neuroplasticity, and holistic treatment approaches.

MRI Awareness: While MRIs aid diagnosis, they can unnecessarily heighten anxiety in many cases.

Root Cause Understanding: Identifying the biomechanical root of symptoms is crucial for long-term solutions. Ironically, my work-related habits significantly contributed to my condition.

Job Appreciation: This experience reinforced my passion for helping others improve their quality of life through holistic health practices. There's nothing more fulfilling than feeling healthy and helping others achieve the same.

My tips for you who has been dealing with pain: 

See a Physio: I’m a Physio and didn’t know that the way I was positioning my body to  treat my clients was the main biomechanical cause of my issue. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt with some treatment, the correct exercises and changing my posture during work.

Movement is medicine. Moving throughout the day is good for you. Listen to your body. It will tell you what is good and what is bad movement.

Get the exercises prescribed by a physio. Doing the exercises should immediately reduce your pain a little. It also gives you some control over your injury. 

Sitting on the couch, slumping, reading in bed with a high pillow are generally  bad ideas when it’s sore: sitting in a higher chair will generally be better for you. Adjusting your car seat so you're more up right and consciously avoiding slouching at all times are small things that help a lot.

So having neck pain was horrible, but it really helped me get a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Please feel free to share this with someone who is going through similar experience.

I would love to help more people overcoming neck pain!

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