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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

MS-Related Dizziness and Neck Spasms

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Multiple sclerosis is so weird. Sometimes I just put up with a strange sensation or painful problem because I do not know how to describe it to the doctor without sounding crazy.
I hope the problems will just go away, and sometimes they do. Maybe I am a little gun-shy from the year prior to my diagnosis, when each symptom I complained about just brought me a new antidepressant.
A couple of years ago, after suffering in silence for many months, I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist. Waiting in the exam room, symptom list in hand, I worried. My new sensation was causing problems, but I did not know how to describe it. The kind (and unusually personable, for a neurologist) doctor greeted me warmly. We covered the usual suspects — fatigue, paresthesia, foot drop. He asked if there was anything else.
“Well, sometimes I get a really weird sensation in my head,” I stammered. He asked questions: Was it painful? No, not really, just very uncomfortable. Where did I feel it? Sort of in my neck and the base of my skull. Could I describe it?  The words finally tumbled out of me, in an awkward rush of pent-up stress.
“This will sound weird, but it feels like a giant hand is grabbing my head and squeezing the back of it. Or like I’m in a pressurized room, and my head is being squished. My neck gets really tight and I get kind of dizzy and sometimes it’s like the floor or the walls tilt. If I’m standing I sort of lose my balance, and if I’m sitting it feels like my head jerks to one side, but I don’t know if it really does.”
Thankfully, the kind doctor did not call for a priest to perform an exorcism. He asked about neck spasms and felt along my shoulders, neck and skull. He gently reminded me that I have lesions in my cervical spine and explained that this was likely a type of vertigo caused by neck spasms and my damaged nervous system. A prescription for Baclofen was sent to the pharmacy.
I have since sought additional ways to minimize this sensation, otherwise known as cervicogenic dizziness.

Good posture

  • Make sure any screen (computer, phone, TV) is at eye level
  • Get up and move around, don’t sit in one position too long
  • Shoulders down and back, sit up straight
  • Pilates lessons have helped with my posture and overall muscle spasms


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