Possible strain of the upper back muscles due to excessive work out

Patient

Q: I was working out 4 days ago and exerted very hard while bench pressing. I suddenly had pain in the back of my skull on the left side just above where the neck muscles attach. The pain radiated into a throbbing pain throughout my whole head, but it was most intense at the left side of my forehead. It lasted for about 20 minutes and then slowly started to fade but my neck was a bit stiff. The next 2 days the stiffness was completely gone but I had a very mild headache. I went back to the gym on the 3rd day and as soon as I started my first lift I had intense pain starting from the same back left part and radiating through my head with intense throbbing pain. I continued to work out regardless and every exertion resulted in the same throbbing pain. Again it subsided over the next hour or so and I woke up the next morning with a very mild headache. Today (day 4), I went to do some pull ups in my house and instantly my whole head began throbbing with pain (worse this time) that seemed to radiate from that same point in the back left part of my skull. The throbs were matched with my pulse and the pain seems localized to the left half of my head from front to back. The intense pain lasted about 10 minutes and then over the next hour it slowly subsided to a subtle throbbing pain. It currently feels like a fullness in the left side of my head with pain at about 2 out of 10. Any idea what this could be?

Doctor

A:   Possibly the pain may be due to a muscle strain. Usually this occurs when the neck and upper back muscles have been stretched beyond normal limits, commonly known as a muscle pull. Also your ligaments may have been pulled apart resulting in spasms in the upper part of your back and neck. This stress generally occurs from repeating the same movements over and over again; with no enough healing time.  In any activity in which you exceed the guidelines of your own limits or capacities you are at risk of developing RSI or “repetitive stress injury” that happen when too much stress is placed on a part of the body, resulting in inflammation (pain and swelling), muscle strain, or tissue damage, and all the symptoms that you described above. To go to a chiropractor is one of the treatment options for an uncomplicated muscle strain in the neck and upper back, meaning when there is no nerve damage or compression, muscle rupture documented by MRI. They may teach you  useful exercises to stretch the muscles in the spine, that you can repeat at home as a routine and after, apply ice to the sore area for no more than 20 minutes each time; you could also alternate warm moist compresses with ice packs. If after follow all of the above you still experience the pain associated to some other symptoms, then I would recommend visiting an orthopedic doctor to rule out some other more serious causes of the pain.

Related Q&A

Q: My son was injured at hockey practice, he fell backwards onto his arm, he screamed instantly and was taken to the ER,...

Q: My dad is in his mid 50s has always been strong and hard worker as a drywaller few years back he broke his two floate...

Q: Yesterday my daughter and I were playing and she leaped forward and hit my cheek bone with her head. The pain was imm...

Q: Hi doc , i did my first boxing class today i am a 35 years old female , fit after i finished my class i felt some pai...

Q: I fell off the bed trying to step on the night stand to hang a picture. It all happened so quickly, i fell with the ...

 
DOCTOR ADVISORY BOARD
218

Dr. James Obaji M.D.

  • 247 Reviews
  • Family Physician
173

Dr. Suneel Sharman M.D.

  • 190 Reviews
  • Family Physician
138

Dr. Pat Golden M.D.

  • 169 Reviews
  • Cardiologist
98

Dr. Kunaal Jindal M.D.

  • 112 Reviews
  • Plastic Surgeon
CNN
BBC
MSNBC
CBS
abcNews
FoxNews