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Have chronic neck and shoulder pain. Suggested for TENS unit. Will it be helpful?

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Practicing since : 1964
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I have chronic neck and shoulder pain since a car accident two years ago. I experienced a whip lash injury when my car was rear-ended. Xrays showed no fractures or anything other than muscle spasms. I received chiropractic care for a few months, got to a manageable level, and continued with my life. I have found since then that it is very easy to reinjure the muscles. I have been back and forth to the chiro over the past two years, have received massage therapy, and accupuncture. I have alternated different pillows at night and have a good mattress. I try stretching, ice, and heat. Not quite sure what to do anymore for the reoccurring tension and pain. I do also have anxiety and this contributes to my muscle tension. I am beginning lexapro for anxiety and depression. Recently a massage therapist suggested purchasing a TENS unit. Is this something that could be helpful? How would I utilize it? Any other suggestions for managing chronic pain? I don't have a lifestyle that really is beneficial for healing either ... I have long commutes, work at a desk, and am a student. I have lots of stress and also find driving aggrivates the muscle spasms. I recently had a whole load of blood tests that were all normal ... CMP, CBC with differential, Thyroid panel, vitamin b12 (low end of normal), vitamin D, lipid panel, also had one for autoimmune disorders that was normal earlier this year and said no muscle damage. I am currently on lexapro 10 mg, diazepam 2 mg as needed, junel 1.5/30, and B12 500 mcg daily.

Posted Sun, 14 Oct 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Sumitra Kumar Mukherjee 2 hours later

I am sorry to hear your problem. What you have got seems like cervical myalgia following a whip lash injury. This is extremely painful condition and takes quite a while to settle.

In such a condition antidepressant tends to help and so is Tens Machine. I think you should go for it. Since you need to be trained to use the machine your doctors / physiatrist at a pain clinic can guide / instruct you better. At United Kingdom where I used to practice most of the hospitals got pain clinic where we quite often used to refer our patients with chronic pain for management.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other concerns.

Kindest regards
Dr. S,K.Mukherjee

PS: the medications which you are having are absolutely Okay.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have chronic neck and shoulder pain. Suggested for TENS unit. Will it be helpful? 2 hours later
Thank you for your response. I am wondering if you have any suggestions for pillows. I feel like I have tried them all, they would work for a little and then stop helping. I have tried memory foam, contoured, down, latex, etc. Just want to sleep easy without waking up in pain.

Is it possible to be affected for this long after the accident? How long does it usually take to finally settle down again?

I am hoping my treatment for depression/anxiety help it along.
Answered by Dr. Sumitra Kumar Mukherjee 1 hour later

Thank you for following up.

The right type of pillow certainly helps. It's not the make or shape of the pillow, but the consistency of pillow that matters. Try something that is a bit firm and do not use more than one pillow. Discuss further with your physiatrist and you should be able to find the right type of pillow to support your neck muscles. Moreover as I mentioned Tens machine helps quite a lot.

I am sorry to say whip lash injury pain may last for a while but those anti depressants will help you by increasing your pain tolerance.

Don't lose your patience. I have seen total recovery with whiplash injury.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other enquiries.

Wish you a speedy recovery.

Kindest regards
Dr. S.K.Mukherjee
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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