Neck pain and the different types of Yoga

A week of physio left me somewhat in a better state. Regular neck exercises continued, but the neck continued to have issues. A trip to BR hills was done with all this, while I continued to struggle with the neck. Slowly I entered my second month of neck pain. Something needed to be done. I started looking for Yoga centres. The other option was ozhichal (Ayurvedic massage). Yoga felt better as I felt it would give me a more lasting outcome.

Google maps showed me a place close to mine, but that place seemed to have closed, but I got a number and called him. He asked me to come to Chandra Layout where he was starting regular classes after a break. This turned out to be the old Vivekananda Kendra who’s classes I used to attend when in school in Chamarajpet. The teacher, who reminded me of Atul Kulkarni in Hey Ram, assured me that in 2 weeks I’ll have good results. The classes began in the evening. Turned out that they didn’t have enough people turning up. This was also coupled with the main teacher not showing up and his assistant handling the classes.

Ashtanga Yoga advises holding an asana for 5 breaths, but we were ending up holding for close to a minute when the assistant was around. And a lot shorter when the main teacher was around. A week later, my lower back issues had flared up. Two weeks later, the assistant came close to breaking my elbow backwards. All this added up to my general annoyance with how the classes were being conducted. A 4:30 class would start at 4:45 as the assistant would turn up late. The next day I’d be late by 5 minutes and he would be asking me about it. I answered him “howdu, late aaythu” and he stopped asking after that. After all that effort of turning up, he’d end up making us 20 suryanamaskaras and then sending folks home. On asking I was told that there are no people yet. Then another day we ended up doing 1.5 hours of asanas without a break. When the main teacher was there, things were smoother, shorter asanas, he would be engaged completely in running the class even when everyone was in savasana. The assistant would be playing with some kids in the back when he was running it! Continue reading “Neck pain and the different types of Yoga”

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The pain in the neck that won’t go away

After much though, and fear that this is going to be bad news, I decided to pay the local Ortho a visit. But first I had to get the bike fixed for the reserve light being on all the time. It was a crowded time, and the supervisors weren’t too keen. One, however asked me to come on Monday morning as it might take a while.

I went along to the doctor and even that was crowded. After a wait of half an hour, I was in. What problem? Neck pain for a while. He did a lot of pressing, pulling, making me resist, making me move this way and that. Two X rays, of the right shoulder and the neck were ordered. The giggling nurses did that over 20 minutes.

Once the reports were ready, it was time for the low down. Turned out to be spondylosis, degeneration of the intervertebral discs. Also turns out to be surprisingly common among the jantha with sedentary desk jobs. Occupational hazard I guess. In my case, he blamed it on the long travel. Is it because of lifting the laptop bags? Apparently not. Weights go to the shoulder, not to the neck. Quite likely reading on the metro, constantly being in a position of putting the neck down and reading constantly. After all these years, it takes its toll. Neck needs to be moving at times naturally, one position for a long time will hurt.

Also happens to be that this isn’t the first set of discs to go out of commission. The lower back had gone for a toss years back. I have been managing with exercises since then. Once again, it is surprisingly common with a lot of people. Our roads do their bit too.

So what’s the route ahead? More exercises, this time for the neck. A lot of medicines – he loves getting his patients to visit his pharmacy and racking up a bill there. Most of the medicines were supplements like Calcium and vitamins, with one NSAID. A cervical pillow for the neck and head, and a neck brace. Why the brace? Wear it when traveling. When riding the bike, or in the car or in any form of travel. That should look interesting. A bill of Rs. 3700.img_4504

Get an MRI too. How much would it cost? Around 7k. Last time my father had got that done, he had asked him not to bother with the MRI, and to go for it only if the pain does not dissipate. The referral was written in the letterhead of the place which does the MRI, which kinda gave me my clue about why he was insisting this time.

So, the plan is to add the exercises to my existing routine, wear the neck brace on the bike or on the bus. The decathlon bandanas come handy now, can be worn on top and look perfectly normal. And also travel less to work, maybe once or twice a week. I barely feel any pain on days I WFH and weekends. It is always the travel days that suck. It might even be necessary at some point to look for a job closer home.

Thankfully no restriction on things like walking, running, swimming (which I anyway don’t do), and cycling. So am good on those things. Continue with the good things that people should be doing, and avoid the bad things. I played a round of tennis in the morning, and it didn’t hurt much. The shoulders have a lot of radiating pain though, which might take a while to go.

Thus it goes. One part of the spinal cord is being managed over the years, another gets added to it. Things we have to learn to live with!

As I speak more, I hear more about others, same age or younger, and their issues with slip discs and having to live with it. I wonder how many things we exchanged for a desk job – heart disease, obesity, diabetes, spinal issues. The list keeps growing. What price development, eh?

And as for the city, as travel gets worse every day with increasing distances and burgeoning traffic, who bears the cost for all this? And what does it all lead to? Where does it all end? How many parts can continue to run without management? Turns out even the brain needs to be managed with interesting activity to avoid dementia or alzheimer’s at an older age. Means we are not getting stimulation even there?

I guess the only truth is in exercise. Exercise, exercise, exercise and live happy. No other options. And if possible, commute less.

Update:

After 4 days of struggling with pain, mainly from the cervical pillow which takes some time getting used to, I decided to get an MRI done. I found an online code for the nearest MRI place which was to give me a 25% discount. Except that when I got there, turned out that the offer had elapsed a long time back. So I had to pay the full Rs.7000 and lie down absolutely still for close to 30 minutes inside a cylinder while it made all kinds of loud noises.

The report came in 2 hours and said that there was “NO DISC BULGE”, and “LOSS OF CERVICAL LORDOSIS”. This meant that the doctor was completely wrong on the slip disc diagnosis. Loss of cervical lordosis means that posture has created some straightening of the usually curved neck vertebrae. Bad news, but not as bad as it was assumed to be. The doctor suggested taking 4-5 physiotherapy sessions and continue with daily exercises of the neck. Also, don’t sit in one position for too long.

I started physiotherapy yesterday and after all the machines were done, the therapist held me at the nape of the neck where the skull begins and pressed hard. The pain was unbearable! But after he released me, he asked me to turn left and right. The relief was immeasurable! Hadn’t felt that way turning my neck for years. All those years had accumulated inflammations in the muscles. Today had another session where he worked on some more muscles there. The feeling is a lot better, but he ruled out bikes for a few weeks. The doctor however didn’t disallow, only suggesting short distances while wearing a neck brace. I guess I’ll just drive around then.

Anyway, this is the story. Thankful that it wasn’t such bad news. But then, this is a proper warning call about taking posture and exercise seriously.

Pain and endurance

The body hurts. The fingers don’t want to type, the wrists refuse to cooperate, the shoulder grimaces each time I make a typing error. The knees don’t like me walking or using stairs, the forearm throbs. The back, for a change, feels ok. But then I exercise it everyday.

The eye hurts. I recently found that my power has gone up. This was after I got faulty lenses on a new frame which weren’t centred. I got them fixed and there’s a lot of respite. Am typing without wearing them though. I even read without wearing them. With more power, I can notice the difference between wearing and not wearing glasses, and this hurts my eyes.

I cycled 17 kms 2 days back. It felt hard. A lot harder than usual. A brief stopover and I filled air for 40 PSI. By the halfway mark it was down to 28. That’s all it could endure. I left the cycle for servicing today. Hopefully they’ll fix it.

I painted the gate, all of 8 ft X 6ft on Good Friday. It took me 2.5 hours. The entire body rose up as one and protested the rest of the day. I went to sleep hoping for relief. Next morning I woke up and went to play tennis. The body hated it, but I loved it. I won. The body spent the rest of the day licking its wounds.

I want to read a book. But there are far too many unread, and I can’t pick one. It’s hard finding time to read, says the mind. Weekdays are hard. Weekends are hot and lazy, and harder. Reading 20 pages causes sleep. Sleep, where the characters play out in your dreams.

It’s the summer, I tell myself. The lips feel dry, the throat craves liquids. Drink more water, except that the lethargy is all pervading. The mind doesn’t want to get up and go. The lazy fan and the drenched half body not withstanding.

I try going out, but the heat lies draped like a blanket. 37°C says the weather app. There is also dust. And sweat. And the thirst. And having to wait at treeless junctions amidst the honks, the smoke and the extra heat. Traffic-less days, they seem like a mirage from childhood.

A few more weeks, there’ll be rains, there’ll be respite. We’ve been through this, I tell my body. No, this time is different, it says. DO SOMETHING! It screams. Another muscle starts spasms to drive home the point.

I need a break. Where I don’t do anything. Where I can go away from everything there is. Where I relearn the art of being still, not doing anything. Where I don’t have to endure so much pain, where there is no activity that causes pain. Where I don’t have to contort myself to fit into a seat. Where I don’t have to worry about my shoulders not being relaxed.

But maybe it’s all in the mind. The search for a home. For a place to come to and relax, and not have to get going again on a new thing.

Maybe I should just drink more water.