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Argghh!!!! I am so frustrated! :dizzy:

Well, I probably should introduce myself, since I'm new here. I've been lurking for a few weeks looking for any posts that might "ring a bell..." but no luck, so here's my question.

I am a 35 year old woman, mom of three boys and I work full-time doing technical support. I have always been very active - mainly running and weight lifting when I can squeeze it in. I used to run 20 - 30 miles per week, but now I am lucky to get in 3 miles a week.

I have been having problems with neck pain on and off for the last year.
The pain only occurs when I am working on a computer, whether sitting or standing (I have an adjustable sit/stand workstation). I have consulted with my company's ergonomic specialist on multiple occasions to ensure that my posture is good and that my workstation is as ergonomically correct as possible. I take stretch breaks every 15 - 30 minutes. Nothing helps.

About seven months ago, my neck started clicking EVERY SINGLE TIME I moved my head. At first, this was a mere annoyance until the pain started to gradually worsen. Day by day, week by week, the pain I feel while at my computer worsened until I couldn't get through more than an hour or two without being in so much pain I couldn't think or see straight.

I would describe the pain as an intense ache... somewhere between stabbing and aching. The pain doesn't worsen or improve by changing position and my range of motion is only slightly limited. However, I could be sitting perfectly still and suddenly the pain will intensify astronomically... and then within a minute or two, die down a little again. It kind of "bounces around" my head and neck like this.

Excruciating headaches accompany the neck pain and it also radiates into my shoulders, upper back, and occasionally into my arms and wrists. The base of my skull hurts a lot too. I've also battled fatigue most of my adult life -- lately the fatigue is so horribly it has become an agony all its own. Over the weekends, when I am more rested and also more active, doing household chores and a variety of things, my neck pain diminishes, but halfway through Monday, I'm hurting again. It also hurts if I drive my car longer than about 45 minutes. I hurt sitting at the dinner table and on the sofa watching TV, too.

I had an MRI on my c-spine and brain on June 8. Per the interpreting physician, the MRI on my c-spine found Nothing. Nada. Nil. How can that be??? Where is this pain coming from and why in the heck does my neck click every time I move my head?????

When I look at my c-spine MRI, I see the borderline/beginning of spondylosis. There are distinct outward curves where the discs are located. They make a "lumpy" shape in my spinal fluid on the MRI image, but the spinal cord itself appears unimpinged. I had the MRI while lying down... is it at all possible that when I am sitting, the discs are compressing and putting pressure on my spinal cord, and this isn't apparent or visible when I am lying down?

My ortho tried two facet joint blocks in my C2 and C3 on the right side, but all that did was make me more aware of other facet joints that were hurting. When I told him of this, he refused to do any more injections until I get my TMJ checked out by a TMJ specialist. I've had TMJ disorder for 20+ years. My right TMJ pops noisily when I open my mouth, move my jaw from side to side, and sometime when I chew. My jaw used to only get sore after chewing something hard like taffy for a long time... it seems to get sore more easily/quickly these days, but that's about it. I do not clench my jaw or grind my teeth at night. (I don't wake up with sore teeth or jaw in the morning.)

Anyhow, I've done hours upon hours of research (when I was stuck at my desk between support calls) on the Internet and I've found nothing useful. What could be causing the clicking and pain in my neck? Why in the world would it hurt so bad when I'm sitting at my desk and feel better when I am more active?

My primary physician and I made the decision last week that I need to take some extended time off and give my neck a rest! I am taking 6 weeks of medical leave. I hate to do this because of the financial impact, but I can't get through a workday without tears and painkillers anymore and I can't go on like this anymore. My work is suffering and so is the rest of my life, because when I come home at night all I can do is take a strong pain pill and go to bed. I'm useless. :(

Does anyone have any ideas??? I am so frustrated! I need some insight and wisdom right about now. Please help!

Thanks in adanvce, to anyhow who may reply...

When you are sitting at the computer your neck may be in a forward bend for extended periods of time. This is something that you need to be very aware of. My husband has a habit of bending his head back to look through his bifocals. I often tell him how he is going to end up with a stiff neck if he continues doing this.

Perhaps a soft collar would help when you are doing computer work. Gad, I am getting a stiff neck sitting here just thinking about Humans were not made to have their necks perched in a tilted position for long periods of time and unfortunately the computer has this effect on a lot of us. I have severe osteoarthritis of the cerivcal spine and if I keep my head tilted down for any lengthy period I get severe arm pain. So I know from whence I speak. Good luck, hope you feel better.

I just want to add that I agree with the previous post about making sure your neck is tilted forward always. I also sit at a computer all day and have had many days with a stiff and achy neck due to my head position.
I also can relate to your neck clicking when you move your neck. Mine also clicks sometimes when I turn my head, and it sounds as if I have broken glass inside my neck when I move my neck.
I asked my doctor about it and he said it's most likely osteoarthritis and nothing to do about it. Luckily I don't have pain for the most part; I have that going on in my lower lumber area :dizzy:

I would try the soft collar as well and some time off, maybe even some gentle yoga or stretching. I hope you can get some relief soon:wave:
Thanks for your replies.

Regarding the forward tilt.

My computer monitor is at the ergnomically correct height and angle. My chair also has a high back rest and I try to keep the back of my head touching it so I know that I'm not tilting my head forward. I am sure that it is tilted forward some of the time, but no more so than usual... This has been going on for about a year (worsening over the last six months) so I've learned to be very conscious of my posture, especially my head and neck. I've done technical support for almost eight years and never had problems like this.

Would physical therapy help? I'm wondering if the fatigue I've been battling is related... since I've been so tired, I haven't been running or working out nearly as much as I used to. Could my neck and shoulder muscles just gotten really weak?

It's hard to say if the pain is because of the fatigue or the fatigue because of the pain... kind of "the chicken before the egg? thing. :confused: But my guess is that its related?
Hi just wanted to reply, I also have the snap, crackle poping in my neck. I had an MRI done in April and seems I've got a herniated disc. Dr was more concerened with the one in my lower back at that time. But like you if I'm driving or sitting at my computer for any length it seems to worsen. Several years ago I was experiencing this same problem and I was seeing a Chiro. he discovered that my head was not sitting on the axis it was offset. He would pop it back in and get everything aligned. I'd feel great for a few days then it was back. My problem was I'd had a job at that time that required alot of heavylifting ant that was what kept messing up what he had done. Not sure if this is your problem, but hope it helps.

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