Lorenzo received a right hook that gave him lateral whiplash

April 25, 2017

About a year ago I tried out boxing while studying as an exchange student in South Korea. After a month or so a guy in the gym asked me to spar and I accepted without thinking much of it.
This guy is, unbeknownst to me, the national university champion of the ROK and that night he unleashed a tremendously powerful right hook on my face (following a feint of a body shot which left my neck completely undefended). The blow jolted my head really bad and gave me a lateral whiplash and a mild TBI.

I was abroad and I was only prescribed muscle relaxants, so after a month the symptoms got worse all of a sudden and my shoulder blade muscles and trapezia
became useless in just one night. I woke up after a night out in outrageous pain being unable to take off my shirt almost.

A chiropractor rid me of the worst symptoms by adjusting C2, which was subluxated by the blow. I keep on having tinnitus, clicking jaw (the tmj MRI
is completely negative though) and upper limbs/shoulder pain that prevents me from working out.

How can I solve this? It’s made my life pretty miserable…

April 25, 2017

Hi Lorenzo
That’s a history and a half. What a shame your sparring experience ended like that – it’s great exercise.
The body is great at adapting to an injury. When joints in your neck are over stretched the body reacts by protectively stiffening up the muscles that surround that area to allow the joint to heal.

But, even though the joint(s) have healed (whether or not it’s C2), they have (via the trauma) got greater joint  play in relation to what they did before the blow, and also non traumatised joints in the area. Essentially bits of cervical spine have too much joint play, but not necessarily greater range of movement – loose hinges on a door as a pretty poor schema!!
Your body being smart therefore allows other joints to have less joint play to counteract and balance against the neck which has extra play.
You’ve got a really stiff thoracic spine as a compensation to a really mobile neck. Until you get more motion here, and learn to control the quality of movement in your neck, I think you’ll have prolonged symptoms. I think they could include TMJ (there is nothing structurally wrong but it’s what you’re forced to do with it that’s the issue) symptoms.

So, you need to respect your symptoms – then ignore them and start dealing with the cause of them. Thoracic mobility is key during most diary activities to allow you to get better control around your neck and shoulder blades.

Decent rehab about control, endurance, body alignment and muscle timing is key. You don’t need stretching, strengthening (yet) or uni joint specific intervention.
Simple things done well.

Start here https://www.sixphysio.com/video/back-pain 
Lorenzo replied:

thank you very much for your prompt answer. Is this “instability” and excessive mobility of the joints in the neck going to affect my torso for the rest of my life? Working out was such a big part of my life and not being able to excercize my upper body anymore is really affecting me negatively. Will I be able to build muscle like before or will these pains keep on bothering me for ever?

And in response:

Nope, not at all.
You need to train your muscle to control the movement in your neck – not just get your neck stronger.
When you’re in the gym, weight training, one of the common issues is that when you call up the strength in your muscles you allow your form to drop to enable you to lift a bigger weights.
It’s this drop in form that exaggerates the bit of your neck that moves too much because you’ve lost control of the supporting muscles.
You need to be taught to switch these muscles on and keep them on during all movements.
High rep, low load, control based stability exercises are key to get you back in the gym smiling


I also forgot to mention that I have constant tingling, a feeling of pins and needles, in my arms, face and hands. Could this be due to radiculopathy? On the morning I woke up full of pains I noticed that some muscles (like the teres minor or some delts) were almost “shut down”, in the lapse of just one night they almost disappeared and reduce their mass substantially. My right shoulder blade has been since then unnaturally loose and the right shoulder weak… could this be a sign of radiculopathy?

I have an electromyography scheduled for next week.
Thanks again for the information.

The Guru replied immediately:

Radiculopathy is a rather exaggerated medical term. The NCT will probably confirm this but won’t tell you why – this is function of what you’re doing (can’t be easily measured) rather than why (can easily be measured).
Your face symptoms is generally associated with cranial nerves but I think it leads much more into things like your tinnitus and an over sensitivity in your sympathetic nervous system (giving a myriad of weird symptoms) due to the abhorrent load your putting on your body.

Hope all this helps.
The Guru


Hi, the fact you mention the sympathetic nervous system and disturbances to its functions matches my symptoms, I find that “fight or flee” responses and my ability to poise and “in control” of situations that require focus has been somehow compromised… I will be treated by a chiropractor that will restore my cervical curve through advanced chiropractic techniques, alongside this I am doing Meziere postural gymnastics.
Is a complete recovery even possible?
Thanks for the information.

The Guru puts is very honest:

Probably not….
Be wary of chiropractic, structurally based, “advanced” therapies- it all sounds very impressive but in practice doesn’t really work like that.
Passive therapies can not and will never resolve ongoing MSK issues.
Not quite sure what or who Meziere is….but you need a decent, progressive rehab program.
Keep it simple, ask lots of questions and make sure you understand the answers so you can square it away.

Lorenzo if obviously concerned by this response:

That sounds nothing short of catastrophic, so the damage will always be permanent?

But the Guru puts his mind at rest:

Not in the slightest.
It’s doing the right, long term thing to get the right long term solution.
There are no short cuts or quick fixes.
Perhaps I’m being unfair to your Chiro (but I’d say the same to all professionals) be vary of being pulled down an impressive, structurally biased pathway.

Guru Responded

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