/ Can't move neck for a couple of days

L MEDUZA 12 Aug 2019

Hi all!

First off, I am seeing a physical therapist this coming week thanks to a friend at Apknite but wanted to try and get some direction as to what's happening in my body after I climb. Very curious.

I've been climbing for a year, and starting the last month, every time I climb I feel fine until about 24 hours later, when a slight pain begins in my lower left/ back of neck + some of the left shoulder+ sometimes down to the left shoulder blade (not always this though).

Over the hours after the initial pain, it grows worse and worse until I can't turn my neck left or right, or tilt it. An issue for obvious reasons while driving. About 2 days after the climb, I can't even lift my head off of the pillow due to excruciating pain in the lower-left base of my neck. Could this be a nerve issue?

I took two weeks off of climbing after this happened twice, then went climbing again on Thursday. I was practically bedridden on Saturday. Things have soothed out today (Sunday) a little, but still, can't move my neck or stretch in certain ways.

Any thoughts as to what I'm experiencing? Hoping the physio can give me some insight and healing tips- I miss climbing already!

Thanks all- stay safe

ThomSank 12 Aug 2019
In reply to MEDUZA:


I have been suffering from similar problems for years. To get to the roots of the pain professional help is important, so you are on the right track with your appointment. 

The best quick-fix therapy for me is heat. As soon as I recognise the first symptoms I put on heat plasters or you can get some pad to heat in the microwave.

Since your problems have repeatedly been triggered by going climbing: belay glasses. I know they‘re not good-looking but without them every climbing holiday would come to an premature end for me...

JLS 12 Aug 2019
In reply to MEDUZA:

>"Could this be a nerve issue?"

Sounds like it, though just swelling from a torn muscle or even just a tight muscle might be the actual cause. In my experience, once you start to get this it can be a recurring problem for quite some time though not impossible to get over. I went through a year or two when one side or the other would flare up regularly.

If you're lucky belay speks will fix it. Your physio might have some stretches and antagonistic exercises that might help too.

petegunn 12 Aug 2019
In reply to MEDUZA:

I feel like I had exactly the same a few weeks back. It started with a pain getting worse and tighter 24hrs after a climbing session. In the morning I was very wonky with one shoulder higher than the other. 

It was muscle(s) that had gone into spasm. I used heat and cold on it for a week and went to a physio. I found that it was my neck that had caused the spams and not my shoulder which I have regular problems with.

After the visit and doing all the exercises it has gone. I try and do the exercises a few times a week to help stave it off from returning. 

My neck was quite weak, probably from looking up all these years (climbing instructor) I've been wearing belay glasses for the last year and it has helped a lot with both neck and shoulder. Also I have one of those curved memory foam pillows which took a while to get used to but now is excellent. I thought it was helping my shoulders but it was more likely my neck that was the issue.

Post edited at 10:13
Rigid Raider 12 Aug 2019
In reply to MEDUZA:

Just by way of a note of caution, a colleague of mine, a keen golfer, has torn the brachial nerve of his arm where it enters the spinal column. He has had lengthy and complicated surgery involving metalwork and a hospital infection of the bone and he is not in a good way at all. The damage happened as he lifted his overnight case into the luggage rack on a plane. Be careful with neck and shoulder pain!

Iamgregp 12 Aug 2019
In reply to MEDUZA:

I have pretty constant neck/shoulder issues, as soon as one side feels ok the other starts to flare up, it's annoying but I've found a few things that help - Regular deep tissue sports massage (I get one at least once a month), heat if it feels tight, regular stretching, NSAIDs and Painkillers and, when I get a BAD flare up, Physio.

I'm told my issue is just caused by my posture and physiology (long neck, big head, poor flexibility through my upper back) causing muscle spasms.

You're already doing the right thing by seeing a professional.  That's the first step to recovery!

P.S. Another vote for belay glasses.  They are a godsend.