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Tom Donald

Beginning training with a neck injury?

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Tom Donald

Hello all.
Brand new here. Two years ago I bulged a cervical disc... then about two weeks ago at BJJ I bulged it again. Have decided (at 44) my BJJ days are over.
A friend who knows I need a replacement for BJJ recommended GST... and it looks just brilliant.  I need something challenging, long-term, without the injury rate of other sports... getting too old!
I'm obviously taking 2-3 months off any training while the disc settles down (currently have referred pain down my arm and shoulder, and my index finger is numb... can't sit down, or stand still without agony setting in  #FML). 
But getting started with GST - in a couple of months - given my neck... is there any issues?  Things I should think about/prep for in advance?
Also - given I get really depressed when I don't work out - if there are any things I COULD be starting with, even with a bulged disc... I'd love some guidance as to what those are.

Kindest regards,
T.

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Jeremy Reeves

I'm dealing with the exact same issue... so also interested to hear what everyone else thinks.

Tom what I'm doing is daily neck stretches, an inversion table, plus strengthening my neck to try and prevent it in the future. Basically isometrics hold (all 4 directions) 2-3x per week. 5 seconds per hold, 3 sets each direction.

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Tom Donald

Thanks fella.  Getting an MRI tomorrow, and depending on what state the disc is in, I'm gonna see if I can start simple isometrics and super light weights... just to stave off depression.  

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Wouter Molenaar

Check out the excersizes for the deep neck flexor muscles, this targets the small muscles in de neck which stabilizes the cervical spine.

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Jeremy Reeves
6 hours ago, Wouter Molenaar said:

Check out the excersizes for the deep neck flexor muscles, this targets the small muscles in de neck which stabilizes the cervical spine.

Wouter - where can we find those?

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Wouter Molenaar

You can find them at YouTube. But its from the field of physical therapie, in physical therapie they use a device called a stabilizer.

Basically its: lie on your back on the floor with a towel under your head (so your ear is at the same height as your shoulder), then make a small high cervical flexion (like a nod, or when you try to look fat), but make this nod so subtle you can still sing and talk. and then press the mid-cervical spine in the floor (with 50% of your power), try not to flex the sternocleidomastoideus then you are doing to hard.

The protocol is 10x 10 seconds.

And remember its coordination, not strenght for these muscles

I hope this helps

http://www.physio-pedia.com/Deep_Neck_Flexor_Stabilisation_Protocol

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Jeremy Reeves

Thanks! Tom, hope this helps you too ;)

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Eva Pelegrin

Hi Tom, 

Welcome to GST! Keep us posted on your MRI results and your current level of pain, if any. 

@Mark Collins can give you a recommendation base on your diagnosis and symptoms. In my experience, you can treat and work around such injury without aggravating the site. There's much strengthening and mobility work to be done on the rest of the spine and whole body so you don't go nuts fixating on your neck or what you cannot do. Cheers.

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Tom Donald

Thanks Eva,

The MRI shows an age-related degeneration of the disc between c6-c7.  This is leading to a narrowing of the gap where the nerves come out.  They're saying they don't see that narrowing impinging the nerve.  There's also a slight bulge of the disc on the right hand side, which they say is "unchanged" since a scan in 2014.  This is a moronic conclusion, as that 2014 scan was when I'd bulged it the last time.

So I'm getting nerve pain (in my opinion) most likely from the bulge on the right side of the disc, impinging the nerves going down my right shoulder and arm.  (Certainly the pain is so similar to the last time, that it feels like the same injury.)  Or if it's not from the right bulge, it's coming from the narrowing of the space where the nerves come out from the spinal cord, as the disc degenerates and the vertebrae get closer together.

Going to do nothing but walking and super super light weights (1.5 kg dumbells) and simple isometrics, for a few months until the pain goes away... then assess from there.  (Wish Mark Collins lived in Sydney...)

Thanks again. Chronic pain sucks, but is an amazing teacher... as long as it doesn't last more than a few months. :)

T.

MRI_Results.png

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Eva Pelegrin
3 hours ago, Tom Donald said:

age-related   

I love that euphemism, always makes me laugh. Now I think age-related = "chair-related." 
“Unchanged” must be a good thing when the alternative is getting worse, right? :wacko:

Seriously, thanks for sharing your MRI report. I hate to say it but your MRI looks very similar to mine in 2013. I didn’t have referred pain down to my arm/shoulder though, yet to my surprise the same age-related terms showed up. 

Straightening of cervical lordosis, checked
c6-c7 disc bulging, checked
c6-c7 disc degeneration and bilateral foraminal stenosis, checked 
The list goes on.

The weird thing is I did an MRI of my cervical when I was having issues with my lower back, elbows and knee (anything else, Eva). At the time, I had so many other pain issues that my neck didn’t seem that important in the scheme of things, but I thought, I might as well see what’s going on up there. 

Naturally, it’s always best to be treated by a professional locally. If you want, I could provide some recommendations in Sydney. I’m part of several communities of movement-centric PT/Physios/Chiros around the world.

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Tom Donald

I'd love some recommendations.  I have a great acupuncture guy... but he can't really help with nerve pain from a bulged disc.  So physio recommendations would be awesome.

Are you pain-free now?  Hope so. :) 

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Eva Pelegrin

Well, let's just say that I have so many other warrior wounds that, that my neck is probably the last one in my list. I have chronic muscle tightness in my upper traps. It started decades ago back in the days when I used to sit in front of a computer for God knows how many hours, days, nights, weekends. I manage it with acupuncture, bodywork and meditation so it's in the "not too bad" zone. I don't do headstands that's for sure. Only handstands. Btw, GB really strengthens those upper traps. Mine are sore most of the time from training. 

I'll get back to you about some referrals asap. I just posted a couple inquiries. 

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Mark Collins

Sorry, the Central Coast is a much better place to live than Sydney.

I would not be concerned about those scans. However you need to get that nerve pain treated. Sounds like an irritated nerve root and those usually do not settle with rest.

BJJ is rough on the neck and is fun to do, but not ideal for the health of your nerves, muscles and joints. Once you nerve settles get into Foundation and Handstand as they will improve your body in ways you could not imagine.

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Tom Donald

Thanks a tonne mate. 

Best advice so far. 

Just googled "treating nerve root pain"... and it fits with what I'm experiencing. I will do some more reading tonight. But if you have any tips for treating nerve root pain, I'll gladly take them. 

Kindest regards. 

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Wouter Molenaar

@Tom DonaldAs a physio I can say that the mri scans are good news. Nothing special or things to worry about, just the normal thing you would expect.

Try to look at the nerve gliding exercises, they can improve the health of your nerve and plexus at the place where its stuck, and its good to start in the way you are now saying, with some light weights and isometric excersizes.

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Tom Donald

Thanks, too, fella. 

Will google/YouTube those, as well. 

One thought - and not wanting to start an anti chiro debate - but the guy who gives me amazing acupuncture, out of the blue gave me a manipulation in my upper back about three weeks ago. 

It went "crack" in a spectacular fashion, and if my memory serves me right, the real pain started about two days later. 

Could that - and not BJJ - have been the cause of the root pain?

(I think my BJJ days are done, regardless.)

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Mark Collins
11 hours ago, Tom Donald said:

Thanks a tonne mate. 

Best advice so far. 

Just googled "treating nerve root pain"... and it fits with what I'm experiencing. I will do some more reading tonight. But if you have any tips for treating nerve root pain, I'll gladly take them. 

Kindest regards. 

Unfortunately nerve root irritation is nearly impossible to self treat. You will need some manual therapy and possibly dry needling to settle it down. It normally settles in a couple of weeks.

For the time being you need to avoid anything that imcreases the nerve symptoms.

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Tom Donald

Thanks again fella. Very helpful forum.  Awesome.

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Tom Donald

Freakin' awesome.  Thanks Eva.

(I lived 13 years in NYC... hope it's treating you well.)

:)

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Gabriel Nunez

@Tom Donald, have you tried any Tai Chi or Zhan Zhuang standing meditation. I hurt my back decades ago, and did this as a child and throughout high school, and I have never had issues again. This ten day series on Youtube is amazing and will most likely help you with your posture, nervous system and overall health while recovering:

 Enjoy

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