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headaches / headpains after broken neck

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Hi,

4.4 years ago I broke my c1 (jefferson fracture). Ever since I have had headaches/headpains which flare up 4-5 times a day and can last hours or days. I get neck pain/ jaw ache/ lower back pain/sore hips/ shoulder pain and still get pins and needles mainly down right leg. There is very little neck movement, so my head is locked from the accident.

I have tried different medication including gabapentin/accupuncture/physiotherapy and Topiramate - but nothing has made any differance.

Would you now suggest that the headaches/headpain will be with me forever as it is now after 4 years and no medication has worked.

regards
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First Helper greatwhite
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replied May 10th, 2010
Long term problems with broken neck
I also had a Jefferson''s fracture (4 complete fractures of C1) in 2001. I too have constant headaches, and frequent head pains and migraines. I have all the same problems listed in the previous entry. My biggest problem now is with my lumbar spine and pelvis. I''ve also tried many alternative therapies and medicines. I have not found anything that provides more than (sometimes) temporary relief.

I am desperately looking for some kind of pain management. I tried cervical spine decompression (3 months of expensive daily treatment) and not only did it not help, I think it has made my lower back problems much worse. I would NOT recommend going that route.

Is there anyone that has had a broken neck and later developed lower back/pelvic problems? Have you found any medicine or therapy that helps?
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replied May 10th, 2010
Hi. I also had a Jefferson''s fracture (4 complete fractures of C1) in 2001. I too have constant headaches, and frequent head pains and migraines. I have all the same problems that you''ve listed. My biggest problem now is with my lumbar spine and pelvis. I''ve also tried many alternative therapies and medicines. I have not found anything that provides more than (sometimes) temporary relief.

I am desperately looking for some kind of pain management. I tried cervical spine decompression (3 months of expensive daily treatment) and not only did it not help, I think it has made my lower back problems much worse. I would NOT recommend going that route.

I get the most relief from reflexology, acupuncture and using an inversion table (hanging upside down)...but nothing is permanent or even works 100% of the time.
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replied May 11th, 2010
Hi,

At least I now know that I am not the only one who suffers from constant headaches/pains and other factors since breaking my c1. Yes I have tried physio and accupuncture but neither has worked. I now have an appointment at the pain management service at a hospital. Did you try the pain management service? I have no idea what is involved. Has anyone in the medical field ever explained why you get these headaches or if that they will go away - 9 yrs since your accident is along time!!!
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replied May 11th, 2010
Hi. You are the only person I've ever encountered who's had a Jefferson's fracture. I always wondered if other people with this fracture had similar problems. Sorry to hear that you are in the same boat.

Can I ask - what kind of treatment you initially had for your fracture?
I think that part of my problem has been lack of consistent and good medical care. I broke my neck in a remote area of a very poor country and was not able to get to a hospital for 2 weeks. Since my injury I have mostly lived overseas and did not get consistent treatment. Since returning to the States my lower back problems have become incredibly bad - actually worse then my neck/shoulder/upper back problems at the moment. I've just started going to an 'alternative' therapist that practices cranial-sachro therapy, amongst other things. Too early to tell if it will be helpful. All the therapists have told me that my lower back/sacrum issues come from the broken neck.

No doctor has told me a definite reason for the headaches - but no one seems surprised that I have them. The PTs say that it is due to misalignment in the spine. I have had a 9 year long headache....it is a long time.

I've never been to a pain management clinic. I will be interested to learn what they can do for you.
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replied May 11th, 2010
Hi,

So you were not able to get to a hospital for 2 weeks with a c1 fracture - thats incredible! Could you actually walk in those 2 weeks?

Well, I wore a halobrace for 23 weeks and a hard collar for 10 weeks, with regular check ups and scans.

My next treatment after visiting the pain management service is to try trigger point injection and occipital nerve block - no promises have been made that they will work.
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replied May 11th, 2010
Hi. I think YOU can appreciate the extreme nature of my experience. My story is nothing short of insane and miraculous. I knew instantly that I had broken my neck - the cracking sound was loud and my neck instantly "froze". Immediately after my injury I had to walk almost 2 hours on a burning hot beach to get back to my room. I was petrified that I was going to become paralyzed. I could walk but could not so much as tilt my head because the pain was so intense I felt I would pass out. For 2 weeks I had to stand or sit upright. I was in shock, don''t remember all of it. I finally got up the nerve after 2 weeks to make the long, incredibly bumpy bus ride back to the capital city. Then I had to fly over 5 hours to get to Singapore, then take a taxi to the hospital. Because so much time had passed the neurologist at the hospital didn''t know what to do with me; it was too late to use a halo. I was transferred by ambulance to yet a different hospital. The treatment was that I only wore a hard neck collar for 3 months with semi-regular check ups and scans. It''s a long and crazy story but basically the experience has been a nightmare. I remember the neurologist in Singapore saying to me that I was incredibly lucky BUT that I would have significant problems down the road. He got that right.

I''ve never heard of trigger point injection. Sounds painful and dangerous? Also never heard of occipital nerve block. I''m at the point that I''d almost give anything a try though.

Almost 2 months ago I started taking Propranolol (heart medicine that is also used for migraines) and seem to be having positive results. It does something to the blood vessels in the brain. If you have migraines maybe you should check into it.
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replied May 12th, 2010
Hi,

Yes, I can totally relate to how you must feel! When I broke my neck, I just fell to the ground as the whole of my body was covered in pins and needles. How did you manage to walk for 2 hours, then wait 2 weeks to travel to hospital. Walking with a c1 fracture is so dangerous - c1 is the atlas, the bone which your head sits on. The pain is just incredible! Did you not have travel insurance? - thank god for free NHS treatment in the UK!

I remember the consultant saying that he dealt with a chap who broke his neck and was put in a halobrace. The chap after a time took the halobrace of himself as he could not stand wearing it. I was told that the chap really messed his neck up for taking it off, I kind of guess this is why your neck is bad because you had no immediate treatment.

The injections are what were suggested by the pain service doctor and done on the NHS - so I don''t get the bills like you.

How did you break your neck?
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replied May 13th, 2010
I also cannot believe what I experienced. I was playing in the ocean with some friends. I climbed on their hands and they tossed me into the air. We were in fairly deep water up to our chests. The second time they tossed me I must have somehow gotten airborne and landed HARD on the top of my head. I heard the vertebra break and thought "I've broken my neck and now my head is under water". I had already been living in Asia for many years when this happened and had fantastic insurance (including evacuation) but we couldn't find a working telephone (I was in rural Myanmar). Once the extreme pain and shock set in I couldn't think straight at all. In addition to going 2 weeks with the fracture, before getting to a hospital I also fell twice and let a traditional Burmese healer work on (manipulate) my neck - which shows how unclear my thinking was. I am extremely fortunate to be alive and not paralyzed.

How did you get injured? Did you have a concussion also?

Yesterday I had my second treatment with a bodywork therapist that does CranioSacral Therapy. Both times I have slept over 15 hours following treatment (which is a rarity nowadays for me). Today my lower back feels amazingly better!

Recently my doctor suggested that I get a full spine MRI. Up to now I have only had MRIs of my cervical spine. Have you had an MRI of your entire spine?
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replied May 13th, 2010
Hi,

So you had good insurance and when you needed to use it, you had no phone, thats just real bad luck! Good to have friends with you, at the time.

I broke my neck playing rugby. As soon as the top of my head went into the other players stomach I had real severe pain (I thought to myself my lifes over) then the pain went to the back of my neck and my neck just made a very loud munching sound (people on either side of the pitch heard my neck break) and at that point my legs gave way and I was on the ground, covered in pins and needles. From that day on I have had loads of mri, ct and x-rays. Not sure if full spine was covered! The halo brace was painful to put on - 4 screws screwed to your skull when you are awake is not pleasant! I will read your link, thanks alot. Perhaps the burmese healer screwed you up more! Many people have also said that I am very lucky to be alive.

Im glad that after yesterdays treatment you are feeling better - lets hope it stays that way!

Asia - I been a few times mainly Kota Kinabalu in Borneo witha visits to K.L and Brunei and Singapore and Hong Kong - great countries to visit. Did you do any scuba diving when there?
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replied May 13th, 2010
Hi again.
Yikes, what a way to break your neck! Do you still play rugby? (I think I know the answer to that).

I was dead scared of getting a halo. I remember being relieved when they told me it was not an option. How in the world did you function wearing it? It was so difficult to sleep just wearing a hard neck collar - I can imagine how uncomfortable a halo must be.

Yes, I am an advanced scuba diver and have been diving in many places including several different islands in Indonesia, Thailand, and Micronesia. Haven't been diving since my neck injury though. There's no way I could ever do a beach dive again - can't carry anything anymore. Plus, everything/anything seems to bring on a headache, wouldn't want that to happen underwater. Have you been diving since your neck injury?

So when do you go for those injections? What part of the body do they inject?
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