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Dr. Gott 11/16

Injury causes chronic neck pain for teen

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Posted: November 16, 2006 5:24 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2006 9:51 a.m.
DEAR DR. GOTT: My friend fell and injured his neck badly about three years ago (when he was 13). Since then, his neck has caused him a lot of pain and hurts him constantly. Many times, he cannot move around or even concentrate on anything else. Because of the pressure his head puts on his injured neck, the muscles are always severely cramped, and no amount of rubbing or massaging helps. He's had professional massages, but the pain returns even worse afterward. He has been to three different doctors and none of them has been able to help. Trying to strengthen the muscles, as one doctor advised, was unbearably painful for him and he had to stop. He is only 16 years old, and already he has pain shooting up and down his back every time he wakes up in the morning. He can't afford expensive treatment. Is there anything he (or I) can do to help?
    DEAR READER: Adolescents usually heal quickly from such injuries, so his situation is somewhat unique. I suspect that he has post-traumatic pain syndrome, and I urge him to be examined in a pain-management clinic. Such resources are readily available in most hospitals.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Managing Chronic Pain."
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am concerned about my 15-year-old son. He has problems sleeping at night, and sometimes he goes the whole night without sleeping! I have tried those natural supplements with valerian, but they do not seem to work. Should I consider sleeping pills?
    This problem has gotten so bad that he even stopped going to regular school because he has a hard time getting up. I had to enroll him in home studies instead! What do you suggest?
    DEAR READER: Insomnia in an otherwise healthy teenager is a complicated and challenging problem that can be the result of inappropriate use of medications (such as Sudafed), a medical condition (such as a thyroid disorder), an abnormality in the brain's sleep/wake cycle or an emotional/psychiatric problem.
    Start the investigation with your family physician and follow his or her advice. Meanwhile, don't let your son sleep during the day. Keep him awake so he will be sleepy at night.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Sleep/Wake Disorders."
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