I remember when it happened; February 2007. While lifting my 5 months old daughter in her car seat out of our car, I twisted and my shoulder went crack. It hurt – I’d clearly pulled something. Hardly surprising as car seats plus a baby are rather heavy! It hurt for a few days, then went away. Now let’s jump to September 2018, 11 years later, and guess what? My shoulder/neck pain has resurfaced for what must be the 10th time.
What have I tried?
Early on I took the occasional paracetamol and ibuprofen to take the edge off the discomfort. It only lasted a few days, and was more a constant dull ache rather than a debilitating shooting pain. So long as I supported my neck with a good pillow each night, it wore off.
However, there was a time when the pain got too much to handle. I saw my GP who suggested I saw a chiropractor. So, I booked an appointment with one recommended locally. I had no idea what to expect when I went along. Picture this: I entered the therapy room and this slight practitioner greeted me. She was shorter than me, and probably half my size. After explaining my neck and shoulder pain, she asked me to sit on the couch. I am not kidding, but over the following 10 minutes I have never heard so many bone cracks in my life! At one point she literally lifted me off the ground by my head! She was strong! Did it help? For a while it did. I should have had follow up appointments, but I moved away from the area.
After a while the pain returned. I needed to make sure I didn’t put my handbag strap on my bad shoulder. I couldn’t lay on that side in bed. When looking behind me while driving, I had to twist from the waist, not from the neck. Eventually I was back on painkillers at night time. I was using hot – and sometimes cold – compresses on it. Hot water bottles were never far away, and I worked out the pain is less if I only use one pillow each night (where I’ve always used two).
I really should have sourced a new chiropractor, but the pain always lessened after a few days and I’m guilty of never getting around to it. A friend suggested I tried a shoulder/neck massager (they’d seen one on TV), so I googled it. Eventually I placed an order for a Zenkuru Neck Massager from the Coolstuff website. Would it work? I had no idea, but the thought of helping myself from the comfort of my own sofa appealed!
Zenkuru Neck Massager
The first impression when I took it out of the box was that it was quite heavy. It’s a sturdy, weighty piece of kit. There’s a large Shiatsu massager unit, with four massaging arms/nodes, encased in an over the shoulder strap unit. On the right strap is a control panel, and there’s a hand loop at the end of each strap.
You plug the unit into a wall socket, place the unit around your shoulders with your hands in each loop, and get comfortable.
The massager has three different massaging programmes; some are repetitive actions, others more sporadic. There are different speed settings too, and you can select whether to heat the massager or not. There is an auto session time limit of 15 minutes – in case you doze off (which is actually rather unlikely).
Without sugar coating it, when you first start to use it, it hurts. A lot. Your neck doesn’t seem to fit into the neck space, so you find your skull or the bones at the top of your spine being painfully pummelled!
Brave it out though … control the positioning of it by raising/lowering your hands in the strap loops. My personal preference was for the heat to be switched on. I persevered with a 15 minutes session each day. After a week or so, I started to feel the benefits. My neck feels a lot looser/less tight. The chiropractor told me my shoulders are very tense, so I believe it is helping with this. I guess the definitive test will be if my neck pain returns – it’s been ok for the last few weeks. I will carry on with my 15 minutes daily session and we shall see!
What else could I try?
During pregnancy a mum-to-be’s body produces the hormone relaxin. It makes your ligaments stretchy and elastic – needed for a growing baby, and ultimately for giving birth. It can take up to 5 months post-birth to get back to normal, and during this time sprains and aches are common. My shoulder pain started 5 months post-baby – I blame relaxin! That and the very ‘wrong’ heavy-lift-while-twisting manoeuvre when taking the baby seat out of the car.
Certain that I’m not alone with this, I asked my parent blogger friends if they had any neck or back pain after having babies. What did they try, and what would they recommend I try if the neck massager stops helping me?
What’s worked for others?
‘Reiki! I had nerve damage from blood clots after having my son years ago Reiki is the only thing that’s helped!’ Care Johnson
‘I’ve always had occasional pain in my shoulders after years of working in a shoe shop (lots of lifting) but since having kids it’s become worse due to pregnancy pulling on my posture, breastfeeding, rocking babies, lifting, carrying them on one side whilst I do jobs and so on. I have to see a chiropractor when things get really bad and I stiffen up but in between those appointments I’ve found a sports massage really helps to loosen the muscles, tackle the pain and bring things back into line.’ Emma Reed
‘I really struggled with neck, shoulder and back pain after carrying two baby carriers around all the time when my twins were little. Osteopathy was really helpful, although I still struggle a bit with back pain now and the twins are 2.5!’ Rebecca Sieber
‘I’ve had a bad back and pelvis since pregnancy – my pelvis ‘pops out’ so my posture is terrible and it means I put all my weight on my right hand side giving me lots of aches and pains. I see an osteopath regularly which I can’t recommend highly enough – perfect for any bone and muscle issues. I also use lots of hot and cold therapy on inflamed back muscles and do daily lower back exercises’. Lauren Porter
‘I get a pain right under my shoulder blade every time I hold a baby! My two are much older now so I must have done some lasting damage from when they were little. It doesn’t stop me though! Those baby snuggles are worth the pain. I find a hot bath can help if it lingers but usually it goes away when I put the baby down!’ Louise Pink
‘My knees have never been the same after constant nappy changes and playing on the floor..they creak a bit now! I walk a lot- gently to keep them from getting stiff.’ Becky Goddard-Hill
‘My knees have not been the same since the extra weight I carried during pregnancy. I also get a bad back every now and then from carrying my son so much (he is 2 and a half and a big lad)’. Carla-Marie Lett
‘I had the worst hip pain as I used to feed my daughter on the bed, it was more comfortable than our chairs at the time. The hip was agony but it disappeared after I bought a brand new mattress about a year and a half later. Basically improved within days. On a side note, I had the worst shoulder and neck pain caused by computer use. I recently bought a new gaming chair with adjustable arm supports, neck support and lumbar support and the neck pain has also vanished. Invest in good furniture.’ Lynette Hammond
Do you suffer from aches and pains? We’d love to know how you cope with it – any hints that we can all try? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.