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  • freefire
    Member
    Post count: 4

    I had spinal fusion c3-5 20 years ago due to an accident. Last week, I noticed my neck made a strange noise when turning to the right. Kind of like a mild grinding/rough sound. Most times I can only hear it when it is fairly quiet, but sometimes it is a bit louder. I do not get any pains, and I have not had a stiff neck in recent memory. It does not do it going to the left or up and down. Is this something to be concerned about? The more I look on line, the more scared I become-failing discs, deabilitating arthritis, etc.. All I have been doing for the past few days is obsessing and turning my head side to side all day.

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Moderator
    Post count: 8436

    Most likely, the sound you hear in your neck is some mild irregular facet surface wear. This is very common, even in patients that have not had prior surgery. The facets are covered with cartilage, a smooth glistening gliding surface. Over time, the cartilage develops small irregularities like pits and small ridges. If you are very quiet when you move your neck, you can hear the irregular surfaces rub together. It is normal and generally, nothing to worry about.

    The reason you can hear this noise is that your hearing is amplified with bone conduction. The bones of your neck directly conduct the noise to the bones of your ear. We are all lucky that our ears are not near our lower backs. If that was so, any small movements of our lumbar spines would sound like a trash compactor!

    Dr. Corenman

    freefire
    Member
    Post count: 4

    Thank you for your reply. I think I will make an appt next week just to be on the safe side. I don’t have to be too quite-I can hear it in the car with the radio off and while walking around, but not when the radio is on, in the shower, etc.. I FEEL no grinding, pain or rubbing,I just hear that irritating $%#%#@%$# noise! Sometimes it goes, and when I press on a certain place on the back of my head muscles, or put my right arm above my head, it seems to lessen or go away. It kind of reminds me of crinkling up cellophane or a bunch of single rice crispy pops. Could it be old scar tissue that has moved around? I did have 700 stitches on my posterior fusion and I have noticed that the old scar (which abcessed quite badly after the surgery) has filled in a bit at the top over the past year.

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Moderator
    Post count: 8436

    If you hear this noise with motion and not at rest, it is most likely facet noise from irregular facet surfaces. If it occurs without neck motion, it could be the rush of blood through a vessel near the ear. Unlikely to be scar tissue in the ligament or muscle.

    Dr. Corenman

    freefire
    Member
    Post count: 4

    Last question-will this irritating noise ever go away???? Is there an exercise or medication I can take to get rid of it? It’s driving me nuts!

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Moderator
    Post count: 8436

    I assume that this noise is only with motion as you indicated before. The noise may diminish as the irregular surfaces become smoothed out over time. What will really happen however is that once you understand that the sound is what it is and is not dangerous, your hearing will become more selective and your brain will cancel this noise out. You essentially won’t pay attention to it. This will not happen overnight but generally will occur over a period of time. You can’t however “think it away”. When I say “don’t think of an elephant”, you will naturally think only of a pachyderm. The brain has to extinguish the current profound impact of the sound by becoming “bored of the noise”.

    Dr. Corenman

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