40 Year Old Women – Neck and Back Pain

You know how you share a story and usually someone knows someone who also has a similar experience?

Well I’ve been sharing, somewhat quietly, that I have had severe neck and shoulder and back pain over the past month. I don’t like to talk about it too much, because I don’t want to be defined by my pain and I don’t want pity. It’s just something I have and it’s limiting my abilities and I don’t like it. I want a solution and I want to know what’s causing it and how to fix it. What I hear from doctors is that it will take awhile and to be patient. But I want to know what is causing it and why and how long, specifically, will it take to repair. There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution.

But the reason I am sharing this story, is because I am not alone. As I share my story and also see the number of hits to my old post about dry needling and headaches, I know there are many more of you in chronic pain. Why?

Is it our computers and smart phones that have us hunched over and compacted, typing furiously? Is it from over use and perhaps repetitive stress? I don’t know exactly. What I do know is that as I bring it up, I’m hearing from more of you that you’re also trying to figure out what feels good and what doesn’t and trying to heal yourself.


Here are some partial solutions and I’m still waiting for the holy grail.

1. Dry needling – this really helped in Amsterdam and it provided relief for about a week or more.

2. Therapeutic Massage – probably my favorite treatment, loosening the muscles.

3. Acupuncture.

4. Cupping.

5. Chiropractic Adjustments. My least favorite and most scary treatment. Does provide some relied.

6. Yoga. My second favorite treatment.

7. Physical Therapy. Focused on core strengthening exercises and using the foam roller to loosen up tight spots.

8. Ibuprofen – to reduce swelling.

9. Ice packs and heat – whichever one feels good at the time.

10. Internet exercises – found some neck relief strategies and core strengthening basic exercises that I loved.

11.Drugs- flexoral – I think that’s how you spell it. It’s a prescription muscle relaxer.

12. Posture alignment – I haven’t tried this one yet, but supposedly there is this 70 Year old woman in Palo Alto who will teach you proper posture that should help us to use our bones properly to support our bodies. So very interesting and I bet she’s spot on. She teaches how to stand in alignment, how to sit on a chair, and will also teach you how to lay in alignment.

13. Hot baths and hot showers.

14. Hot yoga.

15. MRI – haven’t done this yet either.

These are a few of my favorite things that I’ve tried or learned about from all the 40+ men and women who have been sharing their stories and experiences with me. I wish we didn’t have to share this connection.

The problem with back and neck pain is that it is all connected and we don’t always know where or how to treat it and it moves! It calms and it flares. It is debilitating and I wish there was a a cure!

I wish you well and hope your pain goes away. Tell me what works or has worked for you.

Namaste and be well.

Day 232: Headaches and Dry Needling?!

I had the strangest experience today. I’ve been having constant daily headaches, and the pain has been getting worse each day. They feel like tension, pulsating headaches stemming from the back of my neck and into my head and behind my right eye. So I decided to try to find a sports massage therapist to help with deep tissue massage to loosen up whatever is tugging so tightly on my muscles and causing me pain.

I went to this place based on a recommendation. I showed up to an empty room, with no receptionist and no one to be seen. I heard talking behind closed doors, so I waited 10 minutes for the woman to come out. When I finally went in, we exchanged courtesies, she wrote down my information on a piece of paper and asked me about why I was there. I told her about my symptoms, she showed me some anatomy drawings that highlighted my pain areas, told me she could help and then told me she also does dry needling and recommended this for me. Huh?

You can google it, but basically it’s like acupuncture that penetrates deeper into the muscles so that your muscles twitch and release their tension pretty immediately. Side effects include slight bruising and possible stiffness for a day or two or three. As I’m feeling adventurous these days, I decided to try it, which is strange to me because I usually would want to do research before trying something new. Afterwards I looked it up, and its not yet legal in California but is widely used in Europe and South Africa. I’ll let you know if it works. I do sense an ability to move my neck to the right further than I could before, so I’m hoping for success. She just did a couple spots to start, to see how my body responds and I’m supposed to go back next week to continue treatment.

I told her I still wanted the massage, but she told me she was out of time because she only booked a half hour appointment. We had different expectations, but she said she would ask her colleague to continue and give me a massage, but she first had to finish her lunch.

This is such a strange concept to me. Here I am, in their office awaiting and expecting service, yet they were all busy. I don’t get that. I have gotten used to the Dutch ways and I still needed a massage, so I said no worries, I’ll wait. So I sat at a table in front of the kitchen/bar area of this place, while the colleague crunched her crackers with cheese and pickles as slowly and loudly as possible for what felt like an hour. After 10 minutes of patiently waiting, I started to get antsy. I had to pick up the kids in an hour and I didn’t know how long she wold take for my massage. So I asked politely, how long do you plan on giving me a massage. She told me she was almost done with her lunch, that she was on her last cracker and that it would last 20 minutes. I wanted to walk out but the escalation of commitment was too high and I really needed some therapy. I should have left though. Trust your gut is all I can say.

I followed her into her massage room, and she started cleaning off her desk. She was not very professional and did not offer me any form of privacy. I kept waiting for the deep tissue massage to come, but it never happened. There were some repetitive strokes, and a few deep stretches but nothing near the trigger points. And then she was done before it felt like she even started. I was so disappointed. My expectations were a bit different than hers I guess!

So does anyone know of a good deep tissue masseuse in the Amsterdam area? Or maybe California? 🙂

I decided afterwards to do some retail therapy instead with Juliana to get ready for her belated birthday party this weekend. I loved how the mall was decorated with spring flowers, even though winter is lingering a bit longer this season. The fresh scents made me smile despite the cold winter air.