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Old 09-18-07, 04:43 PM   #1
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Pain in the neck

Okay folks need any advice from those of you who have experienced this. The past few months have had extreme tightness on the left side of the neck down through the shoulder with the feeling of having a huge knot just below the shoulder blade. This has been accompanied by sporadic tingling and numbness of the shoulder and arm (not all the way down to the hand). Finally went in to see about it and had some x-rays completed and was told I have some slight degneration of spine from c4-c6, mostly age related. The strength and reflexes on the left side are just as good as the right side so assumption is that the nerve band is getting pinched due to the way I hold my neck while riding. I'm now doing a regime of neck traction twice a week and have some exercises to do for the neck flexors. Was also told to stay off the bike as this is most likely due to amount of riding I've been doing. That last bit of information is a non-starter for me. So question is has anyone else experienced this and any advice on other methods of treatment?
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Old 09-18-07, 04:55 PM   #2
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I had similar symptoms to what you have a few years ago, but with weakness on my left side and it felt like somebody had buried a knife into my left shoulder blade. I pretty much stopped all exercise for a year and just concentrated on keeping really good posture for my neck. I find that I get some twinges still if I don't watch it.

What I have found helps is to:
1) Keep my head upright, don't tilt forward or back for any extended period.
2) Don't try to hold anything under my chin or between my neck and shoulder (like a phone).
3) Don't lift anything heavy so it pulls down on the muscles around your neck.
4) Find a pillow that allows you to keep your head in a neutral position while sleeping.

I don't find that cycling is a problem. Although my body is leaned forward, my neck is kept in a position inline with my spine, so it does not compress the disks.

Just try to keep your neck in a neutral, unstrained, position as much as possible.

Good Luck,
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Old 09-18-07, 05:12 PM   #3
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If you are using a visor, take it off.
If you are a roadie try flipping the stem (gasp) to raise the bars so that you sit slightly more upright and can look ahead without tilting the neck as much. Your giving up perfect position on the bike to straighten out the neck. Try some other things like this.
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Old 09-18-07, 06:35 PM   #4
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I have the exact problem that you have. I have lived with my condition for over 15 years. I bike an average of 30 miles per day during April to October and 20 miles per day October to December, at which point it gets too cold for me.

Here is what has helped for me:

A good pillow (
No long ride times on mountain bikes or upright bikes. (Sounds counterintuitive, but road bikes are much better for neck vertebrae arthritis)
Road bikes are the best if they are properly fitted. Get a good fitting by someone who understands that we are not all racer wannabes and who understands human anatomy and the aging process. This will usually mean a handle bar height slightly below the level of the seat. I had to go to a technomic stem. Looks weird, but who cares.
Find a good PT who will do a ultra sound message with a topical steroidal cream.
Purchase a home traction device such as the saunders group inc product, and use it daily. Your insurance should cover it if it is prescribed by a PT, who has been prescribed by a doctor.(
Do the exercises that your PT gives you religiously. Also do pushups and situps.
Your PT is your best friend. Your doctor probably won't be of much help except to suggest PT, then steroid injections and then, ultimately, surgery. Avoid those solutions as long as possible. I have never had a steroid shot and never plan to have surgery unless it is an emergency (i.e..arm strength is gone).
Endorphins are your best defense against pain.
Get MRI's periodically (about every 3 to 5 years) to help track the progress of the degeneration. You don't want surprises.
Understand that flareups will occur from time to time and that your PT will get you through the worse of it. They are very familiar with this condition.

Finally, there are some on this forum who will tell you that a recumbent is the best way to go. Perhaps that is so, but I have not found it necessary to give up my road bike and have never been tempted by a 'bent.

Hopes this helps.
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Old 09-18-07, 10:11 PM   #5
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A LWB recumbent will certainly stop aggravating your problem. Give one a test ride. bk
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Old 09-19-07, 07:37 AM   #6
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I always hate to offer medical information, especially as an anectodal example, but here goes. My wife has an intermittent cervical disc. After trying everything but surgery, she finds that neck traction is the best, so far.
She steals my LWB bent when it flares up, which lets her keep riding (unfortunately the EXTENDED neck position on her carbon fiber road bike is anatomically the WRONG position, unlike a previous post stated) and as bkaapcke stated, the natural FLEXED position of a LWB bent is the best therapeutic position for both cervical discs and garden variety osteoarthritic changes.
I keep asking her why she doesn't simply get a lightweight LWB bent, at least for use when her neck flares up, usually after long tours with her TREK, instead of stealing my bent and banishing me to my old dust catching upright. She is convinced now, and probably will keep her lightweight TREK with a light LWB bent on order for next spring and use both, depending on the state of her neck and hip. As an aside, she also says her hip pain goes away with the bent as an added bonus, and admits she likes leaving the padded shorts and gloves at home. But she does love the light weight and nimbleness of her carbon fiber TREK, so I suspect she'll rack up miles on both!
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