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Thread: Neck Massage/Manipulation Harmful?

  1. #1

    Neck Massage/Manipulation Harmful?

    A bit of back-story: I live in an area where neurological expertise is nonexistent. When patients have acute neurological events, they are triaged and helicoptered to another location, and even diagnosis of chronic disease is hard to come by. The PTs here are trained in sports medicine, and seemingly little else...not to the mention the fact that they routinely fill appointment slots with up to four patients, so that no one receives the necessary amount or quality of attention. We have two physiatrists, both of whose practices are almost entired limited to the administration of injections. Our one orthotist is restricted in the help he can offer patients, because he seldom has an adequate prescription to work from. an effort to preserve what's left of my mobility, I'm going to Denver next month to see a physiatrist specializing in spinal cord and MS-related issues, and after meeting with her I will see one of the PTs she works with in hopes of coming home with a realistic exercise plan.

    I have seen four local PTs over the past several years, and each of them has insisted on massaging and manipulating my neck, which is in very bad shape. I have always been afraid of these sessions actually causing more harm. Now, having finally realized the necessity of seeking help elsewhere, my question remains: given the condition of my cervical spine and cord, are neck massage and manipulation dangerous in and of themselves? My last MRI was in 2008 and showed the following:

    - Demyelinating lesions at C2 (cord position unspecified), with questionable lesion at C3 (cord position unspecified); C4 (left lateral); C5 (bilateral); C6 (bilateral); and C7 (anterior central), extending inferiorly into T1

    - Disc bulging at C5-6 and C6-7 with spurring, degenerative disc space narrowing, bilateral foraminal narrowing, spondylosis and mild effacement of the ventral aspect of the thecal sac

    I know that I can't do exercises that involve raising my arms above my shoulders, but are there other movements I should avoid in order to protect my neck? Honestly, at this point I've become very skittish and feel that I must protect myself from the caregivers - even though I know I need an intelligent assessment and comprehensive plan.

    Many thanks in advance for your insights.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    North of the 49
    I don't know what kinda massages you get but I highly doubt it will hurt you. I'm a T3 and I get massages every 2 weeks and she rams her elbows in me and it's amazing. I was also curious about chiropractors, before my accident last year I had a horrible neck. years of massage and physio never helped, six visits to a chiropractor and I was fixed. now it's back, I put in a call to my neurosurgon to ask that very question a couple days ago and I'm still waiting.
    Mark 9:23 - All things are possible for those who believe.

  3. #3
    Thanks dewie, I hope your neurosurgeon gives you some good input and that your neck will get comfortable again.

    My bottom line is that I can't afford to go to Denver for ongoing followup, so this visit has a make-or-break feeling to me. One of the local PTs caused permanent damage to my arms and hands in 2007, and I want to be alert for exercises and manipulations that might cause more damage.

  4. #4
    Been going to a chiro and masseuse 2x's a week for 12 years for the shoulders and back. As far as I'm concerned, they have saved me from surgery all these years. I just added a very competent accupuncturist/herbal practitioner a couple of months ago. She has done wonders also.

  5. #5
    Hi Patrick. Sounds like you've found a great combo, that is good to hear.

  6. #6
    Conventional medicine can only go so far IMO. They wanted to do all kinds of surgery on the shoulders, elbows, wrists and palms; 30 years of highly cometitive sports. And, they said" We might as well do both sides at once since you're gonna be incapacitated anyway". Scared the daylights out of me. Told them give me 6 months and we'll talk. That was 12 years ago. I

    A recent Ultrasound on both shoulders showed I still have the tears in both supra spinatus and tore the biceps off the longhead, but I can still handcycle and am independent so that is what matters.

  7. #7
    Holy cow, I can't believe they wanted to do both sides at once!! Absolutely terrifying. Thank heaven you said NO. It is remarkable, what you have been able to accomplish in spite of those tears - I shudder to think what the outcome of so much surgery might have been.

    I don't have anything at all against massage, what worries me is the, er, energetic way these PTs bend, pull and push on my neck, even though two discs are already bulging and there are bone spurs and stenosis.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    North America
    I am not an expert on massage or your conditions, but I strongly suggest you do not go through with the massage. It's a risk/reward question, and the risk seems high!
    Unless you can trust the massage/pt touch is light and totally safe, I would hold off. Spinal Manipulations are low-force/high velocity... bad idea with the spinal foramina narrowing you mentioned above. Ask about muscle release technique, it feels great to get targeted relaxation & it's pretty safe imo.
    Good luck with the meetings in Denver : )

  9. #9
    Thank you so much, Surf Sister! Your words ring true to me. I am not familiar with the muscle release technique - targeted relaxation sounds heavenly, and I will ask about that. If it's not too much trouble, could you tell me a little bit about the procedure so that I'll be able to tell whether the therapist and I are on the same page? Thank you for your good wishes!

    Edited to add that a Google search led me to the website of the developer of the muscle release technique - for others who might be curious, here's a link: Muscle Release. It looks like it might be just the ticket for me, Surf Sister - thanks again for suggesting it.
    Last edited by Bonnette; 09-26-2010 at 03:02 PM. Reason: added a link

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