In 1988 as I was getting ready to retire from my secretarial job, I began having muscle spasms, which placed my head in an abnormal position. In all, I've been to 12 healthcare providers before I found one who could help me.
These included two orthopedic surgeons (one local and one in Portland) before I found a neurologist in Seattle, who diagnosed my condition as spasmodic torticollis, a condition where the muscles on one side of the neck periodically go into spasm. He prescribed a variety of muscle spasm relaxants, including Norflex, which I couldn't tolerate. Then I went to a local neurologist, who prescribed Artane, an antispasmodic, which also made me ill.
In May 1991, I went to San Diego, California, to see a neurosurgeon who does selective denervation surgery. He confirmed that I had spasmodic torticollis, but advised me to take Botox injections first before considering surgery. Botox, a form of purified botulinum toxin, blocks certain messages along neuromuscular pathways, causing nerve and muscle paralysis in the immediate area. I had my first Botox injection that day. Since then I have gone to Seattle, a distance of 200 miles one way, every six months to have these shots. They have enabled me to function normally and I have been grateful to have them.
However, in April of last year, I went to a young local chiropractor on an unrelated matter, and he did not believe I had spasmodic torticollis. He x-rayed my neck and found that the fifth vertebrae was out of alignment and pinching a nerve in my neck, causing the spasms. He has learned a special procedure, which enabled him to push the vertebrae back in place in just one treatment. I wore a neck brace for 72 hours and since then have done a simple exercise every day to strengthen the muscles. I have not had any neck pain, my head is in its normal position, and l am amazed at how well I can walk now that my arms swing freely and I don't have a stiff neck from the shots.
I believe my problem began with an old injury suffered in an auto accident some 35 years ago. After my experience, I would urge anyone having muscles spasms to seek out a good chiropractor to see if a structural problem is causing the spasms. - ER, Pasco, Washington.