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I took a thorough life history and we spent about 45 minutes exploring her life from childhood until the moment. There was actually nothing that I could see that would allude to her pain and inability to turn her head. In fact, her total range of motion was limited to eye movement; when I asked her to turn her head, only her eyes were moving. At the end of our time that day, I noticed a large L shaped scar in the front of her neck, and asked her what it was. She said, “Oh that… that was from a radical thyroidectomy that I had when I was 18, and I never have had any trouble since. In fact, the surgeon was so proud of his success, he made it a point to mention that he was able to save my SCM muscle”.
Well, the SCM muscle is the muscle that turns the head. And in my mind, if he was able to “save it”, that meant that he nearly severed it; back then procedure could include removing a muscle from its attachment in order to access the thyroid in this case. Therefore, it was traumatized, but not symptomatic. Or at least not until she was currently experiencing a high level of emotional and physical stressors. Either one of those factors, and especially both, can be powerful catalysts to pain, exciting underlying tensions in the body that have gone undetected.
I was fresh out of a 1300 Trigger Point Myotherapy Program, and I just did what I knew from this bodywork school and the brilliance of my 85 year old teacher, Bonnie Prudden. We started releasing her neck tension at her fingertips, due to a high level of sensitivity and inflammation in her entire body; touching her neck at this point was out of the question. The pressure I gave was feather light, and it worked. By the time I reached her shoulder, she was able to regain some movement in her neck.
At that time she could not afford more treatments, so I taught her daughter in one session how to do what I was doing. According to her, the quality of her life had improved tremendously, because she was now able to turn her head in the car as they enjoyed their favorite activity of driving in the countryside together.