A man suffering from neck pain attempted to relieve it by stretching his neck, and ended up causing a stroke that left him hospitalized in intensive care.
Josh Hader, a father and former police officer in Oklahoma, regularly cracked his neck without any troubles. On March 14, he was working from home when he tried to stretch his neck, which had been causing him discomfort for several weeks, NBC News reports.
“I used my hand to apply a slight bit more of pressure, and then heard a pop,” Hader told NBC. “Then everything on my left side started to go numb.”
Suspecting he may have had a stroke, he called his wife and checked his reflection in a mirror for any facial drooping, one of the telltale signs of a stroke.
When he found no drooping, he was briefly relieved and went to fetch an ice pack from the fridge. On the way, however, he noticed he was walking “at almost a straight 45-degree angle to the left,” and tripping over himself whilst trying to walk in a straight line.
His father arrived to take him to the hospital, to find Hader’s symptoms had worsened significantly to the point that he could barely walk.
A CT scan revealed he had suffered an ischemic stroke, which doctors told him was caused by a small tear in his vertebral artery directly caused by stretching his neck.
“It ended up being a torn artery in my neck/head causing a clot that caused the stroke,” Hader wrote on Facebook.
“It’s a minor tear so they are taking me off of anti-coagulation medication and putting me on anti-clotting meds. I’m probably staying in the ICU for another day or two. After that, I’ll go to a rehab center.”
Hader was treated at the hospital and has been recovering well, even writing several humorous Facebook posts about his ordeal.
The stroke left him temporarily wearing a fetching eyepatch due to damage caused to a nerve that leads to his eye, KOCO reports.
Hader’s wife had warned him not to pop his neck on several occasions, precisely because she feared it would cause a stroke. As bad as the stroke was, it could have been worse.
“He could have formed more clot on that tear and had a life-ending stroke,” Dr Vance McCollom at Mercy Hospital, where he was treated, told KOCO. “He could have died.”
“If you want to pop your neck, just kind of pop it side to side. Don’t twist it,” Dr McCollom advised, as twisting your neck abruptly can give you a small risk of tearing the same vessel Josh did.
“I suspect he just turned it real sharp and up, sharp and up and back. That’s what really pinched it.”
Hader’s last update told his Facebook followers he had “surpassed everyone’s expectations” and was being released early from the hospital.