28-year-old man suffers stroke from cracking his neck
A man in his 20s suffered a potentially life-threatening stroke after cracking his neck.
Josh Hader, 28, from Guthrie, Oklahoma tore his vertebral artery, a crucial vessel leading to the brain.
“The moment I heard the pop, everything on my left side started to go numb,” Hader told KOCO 5 News in the U.S.
“I got up and tried to get an ice pack from the fridge, and I remember I couldn't walk straight.”
Hader’s father-in-law rushed him to the emergency room at the city’s Mercy Hospital.
“He could have had a life-ending stroke. He could have died,” said Dr. Vance McCollom, a radiologist at Mercy Hospital, Oklahoma City.
“If you have a stroke in that area, you can end up with a patient who’s locked in,” McCollom said.
“They completely understand what's going on, but they can't communicate. They can't move anything. They can't speak. They can't breathe.”
Hader’s stroke did cause some damage: for the first few days he couldn’t walk without a walker, his right eye was weaker, he suffered double vision and he still has difficulty walking with his left leg.
“One of the muscles that goes to his eye is weak because the nerve was injured,” McCollom said.
The father-of-two young boys had to wear an eye patch for several weeks and he suffered another unusual side effect; painful hiccups for a week and a half.
But Hader said the most difficult part of his recovery has been emotional, not being able to help his wife with their children.
“I can't pick him (the baby) up out of the crib, give him milk in the middle of the night. I can't do any of that,” Hader said.
Hader’s treatment involves medicine and physical therapy.
Meanwhile, his physician warns others about being careful how you crack your neck.
“If you want to pop your neck, just kind of pop it side to side. Don't twist it,” McCollum said.
“Whenever you twist it there's a risk of tearing that vessel. I suspect he just turned it (his head) real sharp and up, sharp and up and back. That's what really pinched it.”
Hader will likely have lifelong consequences from the stroke, the doctor said.
“There is evidence that, in rare cases, actions related to a sharp twist or movement of the neck could lead to a dissection which could potentially cause a stroke,” Dr. Patrice Lindsay, director of systems change and stroke program at Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation told CTVNews.ca.
“Canadians who experience any neck pain should have it checked by their primary physician to determine the type of treatment that may be required.”
Meanwhile in England, a 23-year-old paramedic is also reported to have suffered a stroke after popping her neck.
Natalie Kunicki, who works for London Ambulance Service, ruptured her vertebral artery too, according to the Daily Mail.
She is slowly regaining her mobility, but doctors are unsure when and if she will ever fully recover.
A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of the brain, damaging brain cells.
The effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that was damaged and the amount of damage done.
Public Health Canada recommends people learn the signs of stroke using the FAST acronym.
Face: Is it drooping?
Arms: Can you raise both?
Speech: Is it slurred or jumbled?
Time: To call 911 right away.
The faster the response time, the greater the chance of minimizing the damage caused by a stroke, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Visit the Heart and Stroke website to learn more about the signs of stroke.