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Muscle Spasm in Occiput

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Joined: 03 Sep 2004
Posts: 316

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:01 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Muscle Spasm in Occiput Reply with quote

Hey, Doc
I have been having trouble for about a year with a muscle spasm in the occiput and neck area. After driving home from Thanksgiving last year, I became aware of increasing muscle pain in the back of my head, which became incredibly, agonizingly painful. I went to a chiropractor who did cold laser, electrical stim and adjustment (ouch). Eventually this resolved to a certain point, but I still have stiffness in my neck and the back of my head in the occiput area. It limits my range of motion when turning my head to the left or right and when I try to stretch things out, I can hear the muscle attachments creaking in the occiput area, and it feels tight, stiff & unpleasant. It doesn't hurt most of the time, but has remained incredibly tight for all of these months. It is obvious enough that people occasionally ask me what is wrong. I did have a flare up of the original pain after a 40-mile road bike ride a couple of months ago. Things resolved back to the way they were (stiff, uncomfortable, tight but not terribly painful) after taking Ibuprofen. Recently I've noticed that my shoulders are starting to feel very tight. I've gone to a massage therapist -- agin temporary relief but no resolution. So, it seems like time to do something. A relative suggested going to see a physiatrist (not a psychiatrist!). Does that sound like to best approach to get to the bottom of this or would you have other recommendations?
Thanks, as always, for your support for cyclists.
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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1396
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:07 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

redmountain bike:

Your relative is giving you good advice. Do seek an evaluation by a Physiatrist (a physician who specializes in rehabilitation of neuro, muscular or skeletal injuries). As massage therapy, manipulation, laser treatments and elotrostimulation therapy has not brought you relief, more things have to be considered in the cause of the spasms and pain such as bone spurs, narrowing of the spinal canal, disc herniation. The Physiatrist or Sports Medicine/Orthopedistcan help work up these problems and direct appropriate therapy.

Now if all the evaluations come back saying nothing bad is going on, it could something simple that we all experience one day at a time (It is called getting old... ). Your body may not be as limber as it use to be and the muscles, tendons and ligaments are telling you by becoming a pain the neck. You do not have to shuck your bike. Look a altering your mountain bike set up with riser bars and or a taller stem to allow you to ride more up right. Soften up your front suspension some and look at going with 4 inches of travel if you are riding with only 3 inches to isolate you more from the impacts and vibrations from your front tire. For road biking, look seriously at a recumbent bicycle to completely unload your shoulders. (Mountain bikes rule off road, so donít give up your faithful off road steed!) I became a recumbent convert in 1995 when I, too, was having progressively worsening shoulder and neck problems from my road bike even though I had ridden and commuted by bicycle since grade school. Check out and for some great information and reviews of recumbent bikes. Also here is a link to an article I wrote regarding recumbent bicycles.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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Joined: 15 Aug 2007
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:38 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

you were probably headed in the right direction by seeing the Chiropractor. in most cases, Chiropractic is not a one visit wonder. our society has been conditioned to expect insant gratification in almost everything. making changes in the human body requires much consistancy. think about the dedication it takes to condition yourself for racing season, losing bodyfat, gaining muscle, developing new motor skills ect.... goals are not achieved over night. and when progress is made, it is not noticable from day to day because changes are so gradual. this also applies to rehabilitation. when a person seeks Chiropractic help it is usually because they are in pain & want relief. often Chiropractic treatment can relieve pain in a short time. this would be due to relieving the symptom. (pain) this is called relief care. w/ out adressing the cause of the pain, the symptom will return. by correcting the cause, they symptom will not return. this is called corrective care. western medicine addresses symptoms w/ medication & surgery. medication does not cure disease, it treates symptoms. occipital pain can be caused from many different things. most likely an orthopedic or stuctural issue & not so much nurological. if your Chiropractor took xrays, he should be able to deturmin if your problem is from bone spurs. if your problem is related to stenosis or disk herniation, chances are you pain would be more intence then "stiff, uncomfortable, tight but not terriblypainful." although those are still possibilities. if you decide to give you Chiropractor another shot make sure you ask questions that will help you uncover the cause of your pain. after locating the cause finding the proper treatment is a lot easier. if your pain is from subluxation (misalighnment of the vertira) along the cervical spine then treatment should be easier. misalighnments along the spine can cause all sorts of painful symptoms. muscle spasms & tension are the most common. when the spine is misalighned the vetibra can put pressure on a nerve causing irritation. removing the pressure often removes the irritation. since our bodies want to hold onto what they is used to this problem could return unless the nurological re-education is addressed. this is where strengthening, lengthening, and massaging the muscles can be very benefical & necessary. this will remind the body of the structural possition it needs to maintain. this is the basic concept of physical therapy. good luck.
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