Neck pain can be a symptom of Lyme disease
Resolve your neck pain naturally
Hi everyone! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. It means so much to me to be a part of a larger community working to heal Lyme. I hope that by sharing our stories and healing tools we can bring more and more awareness to the problem of chronic Lyme. No one should have to suffer undiagnosed for years, and then break their bank on private Lyme doctors!
My Lyme neck pain
Lyme was so kind as to hex me with a crackly, creaky, painful neck and upper back, long before I knew I was infected. My pain was severe. It was so intense, sometimes I would start to cry if my car hit a pothole. It felt like there was a kitchen knife stuck between my shoulder blades, and another few butter knives stuck in my neck.
At one point I saw a chiropractor three times a week for a year, and it only managed the pain, never cured it. Sometimes I would adjust my own spine, and the violent cracking sound would reverberate across the room. This was more than frustrating, and embarrassing. I own a Pilates based rehabilitation studio. Why couldn't I fix my own pain?
Three practices to resolve neck pain, stiffness and instability
About two years ago I started a few simple practices that have entirely cured my neck pain. I still have instability - but those awful spasms are a thing of the past. I came upon these practices independently, not as a package, and I didn't know they would affect me so measurably. But as I implemented all three, my pain resolved. I haven't seen the chiropractor since, and I now hit potholes with mere annoyance.
These practices do take continual doing - and I know when I need them because I feel the instability in my spine start to return. There are three - one diet, one meditation, one movement. (Any spoonie can do them.)
Earlier this week I showed up at my llmd's office (that's lyme literate medical doctor, for those lucky people who don't know) and on his intake sheet there was a question about cracking, painful necks. I didn't know till then that this was a symptom of Lyme disease! It is a relief to know the root cause. And I can't be the only Lymie who struggles with this. So here are my three pillars of cervical health. I hope they help you.
Meditation trains your brain away from Lyme disease pain
The brain wires for habit. A focus on sensations of pain strengthens the wiring pattern for pain. Your pain can be a symptom of Lyme disease or from something unrelated - this holds true regardless. Feeling pain, paying attention to pain, thinking about pain - just begets more pain.
Creating a new habit is challenging, but so very worth it. Here is how I retrain my brain. If I notice pain or discomfort in my neck, I immediately redirect my mind to visualize a warm, clear stream of water running up the inside of my spine, from my tail into my cranium. I imagine it making space between my vertebrae, softening my muscles, effortlessly elongating my body. I focus on this feeling, enjoying it, letting it feel blissful. If need be I lie down in order to immerse myself in the visualization.
I do this every single time I feel discomfort. I never allow my brain to dwell on the sensations of pain for more than a few seconds. This way I wire the habit of softening and elongating into my nervous system, and this habit becomes stronger than the habit of pain. This takes mental discipline! But it becomes second nature over time. Pick imagery that works for you, it can be any imagery that makes you feel long, soft, and free.
If you want some guidance, try my Calm Stamina meditation. This meditation focuses on the thyroid, which encircles the base of the throat. Softening the thyroid is another way to support resilience in your cervical spine.
Therapeutic exercise to strengthen and increase neck flexibility
Here is a simple exercise that helps most people with neck pain. I teach this to all of my Pilates clients who come in with a neck spasm.
Lie on your stomach, and turn your head to one side. Prop your head with your hands if you need to to be comfortable. It should feel like a gentle neck stretch, not sharp or intense. Relax as long as you like in this position, letting your neck soften and elongate. Then slowly and easily, keeping the movement small, lift and turn your head to the other side, and rest there. As it gets more comfortable, take more time in the turning and lifting. Look over one shoulder, look up and out into the room as you turn, and look over the other shoulder before resting.
You can spend a nice, long, meditative time doing this, gently increasing your range of motion and your strength in neck extension and twisting. Most of us spend way too much time with our heads bent slightly forward, flexing our necks. Neck instability can be exacerbated by weak, underused extensor muscles and a loss of our natural cervical curve. You can do this exercise every day if it works for you.
Here is a video to illustrate. If for some reason it doesn’t appear in your browser, here is the link.
Eliminating allergenic foods lessens pain
For me, discovering and eliminating my allergens has been very very helpful with lessening pain. Trigger foods will not be the same for everyone. I have wound up happiest on a Paleo / GAPS diet, with very low sugar intake, limited meat, and a bunch of high quality fats. I felt a difference in my pain (and my immune system) within two days of changing my diet - it may take up to three weeks.
You probably already have solid intuition about the foods that trigger you. For many people, these are the foods we have a sort of manic craving feeling toward. There is a term for this - addictive/allergic. If I tune in to that feeling, I know what I need to avoid. (Hello, dark chocolate espresso cake with a side of high rent bourbon.) Experiment with what works for you, and follow your deep, calm intuition - your body will lead you to the foods it needs.
Thank you so much for reading! Please share this post with other Lyme Warriors who might benefit.
Wishing you swan like posture, and an eagle's strength in flight.