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Pain Management

Swollen Sternocleidomastoids



My right sternocleidomastoid became very swollen 5 weeks ago and the left side 2 weeks ago. Had negative carotid artery scan, neg soft tissue neck MRI. PT for 4 weeks-no help. Have history of C5-6 and C6-7 surgeries-lanminectomies in 02 and 06. Numbness in left arm never improved after 06 surgery. I am in so much pain, it is unbearable. Surgeon said nothing he could do after 06 surgery. Could another disk be ruptured and cause my neck muscles to swell? Heat and ice no help either. Took muscle relaxants for 5 days, no help. All I take is a NSAID. Is there anything you can suggest to help me before I lose my mind. Is there something they are missing? I cannot live with this pain. Thank you for your help.


Your muscles may be in spasm. You need to be examined by a Neurologist to rule out cervical dystonia (neck muscle spasms causing pain). If that is the case, you may then be a candidate for Botox injections. If the pain is from another cause, you may need to see a Pain Medicine specialist.

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Response by:

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University