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What causes neck pressure and stiffness, headache, leg spasms and light sensitivity?

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Posted on Wed, 26 Aug 2015
Question: Good morning. I am asking about my fiancé. 38 y/o male, 5' 9" tall, weight of 230lbs. 3 days ago, he began complaining of neck pressure and stiffness located on the right side just below the occipital area. He said he was having an "intense" headache with light sensitivity, no nausea, but decreased appetite. I applied a heat pack for 20 minutes, did a cervical massage and my best of an "occipital release". I am a trained EMT with a prior history of SPASMADIC TORTICOLLIS, I gave him the same type of massage and care that I experienced in physical therapy. This appeared to give him a little relief, and he slept that night. Upon waking, he informed me that he did not feel better( HE WAS ALSO GIVEN TWO TABLETS OF 'TRAMADOL, 50 mgs, ea. AND 50 mgs OF "TRAZADONE' TO HELP HIM SLEEP THE PREVIOUS NIGHT). HE SAID HE HAD THE SAME HEADACHE AND AS BEFORE EXPERIENCES INVOLUNTARY SPASMING OF THE LEFT LEG AND ARM. THIS I WITNESSED. UPON RISING TO WALK, HE LOST HIS BALANCE, (I also noticed slurred speech and saying the "wrong" word when asked a question), AND HAD TO BE HELPED TO THWE CAR.I THEN TOOK HIM TO TH E.R. Dr. Villanueva, took blood, a CT, AND a spinal tap. all came back negative. the only thing that was abnormal was his unusually high blood pressure ( 186/118).During our wait for a second set of blood cultures to come back, the spasms of the left leg and arm began again, and he was given 25mgs of Lisinopril, and 10 mgs of Valium. then , he was released. I brought him home, and as he began to exit our car, he wobbled and fell down completely in our yard. I was able to get him to bed and he slept all night ( He also has sleep apnea). Upon waking today, the spasms are indeed present, " FLAILING " WOULD BE A MORE APPROPRIATE WORD), the headache is still present and appears a little worse. HELP!
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Answered by Dr. Erion Spaho (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Further examinations needed.

Detailed Answer:
Hello and thanks for using HCM.

I have read your question and understand your concerns.

Symptoms your refer about are more probably related to TIA or transient ischemic attack that may have been evolved to stroke.

Brain CT is not the choosen tool to evaluate these conditions especially in first hours, brain MRI is the best imaging tool about diagnosing these conditions.

Neck vessels should be evaluated too, about stenosis, or in rare cases after neck physical therapy procedures, artery dissection should be evaluated as well.

High blood pressure and high blood lipids should be assessed and treated.

In conclusion, discuss with your friends's treating Doctor about having done brain and neck MRI/MRA, and a neurological examination.

Hope you found the answer helpful.

I remain at your disposal for further questions and clarifications.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Neel Kudchadkar
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Answered by
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Dr. Erion Spaho

Neurologist, Surgical

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 4423 Questions

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What causes neck pressure and stiffness, headache, leg spasms and light sensitivity?

Brief Answer: Further examinations needed. Detailed Answer: Hello and thanks for using HCM. I have read your question and understand your concerns. Symptoms your refer about are more probably related to TIA or transient ischemic attack that may have been evolved to stroke. Brain CT is not the choosen tool to evaluate these conditions especially in first hours, brain MRI is the best imaging tool about diagnosing these conditions. Neck vessels should be evaluated too, about stenosis, or in rare cases after neck physical therapy procedures, artery dissection should be evaluated as well. High blood pressure and high blood lipids should be assessed and treated. In conclusion, discuss with your friends's treating Doctor about having done brain and neck MRI/MRA, and a neurological examination. Hope you found the answer helpful. I remain at your disposal for further questions and clarifications. Take care.