Repetitive Strain Injury/SCM causing vertigo


Unfortunately, I live in California and not near you in NC.  I have suffered from chronic neck/shoulder pain for years.  I recently began seeing a massage therapist to help.  After only 2 session I experienced mild to moderate headaches and insane vertigo.  The vertigo became so severe I ended up going to the ER.  Nothing of concern showed up, so they assumed it was from the SCM.  The left side is much worse than the right, but both are just one long band of hard knots.  I am now taking Valium at bedtime and applying ice and lidocaine patches.  My question is should I let this settle down for a few weeks and then attempt massage therapy again, just warning her to maybe go gentle.  Or should I see someone else who is more specialized in the particular area such as PT?

I live near Palm Springs in case you know anyone in this area who you could recommend,

Thanks so much.  My 4 boys appreciate any help- they are sick of hearing me complain and fetching me ice packs:)

Hi Kerry,

I just moved to Florida on Monday, but still too far from California.  I totally agree with you that your SCM is the problem, it's a very common cause for vertigo, tinnitus, and ear pain. The good news is that you can successfully self-treat the sternocleidomastoid muscle easily.  If you go to you'll be able to read all about repetitive strain injuries, I suggest you also read the sections titled "Muscles and Pain" and "What's Happening Exactly."

I have a self-treatment book titled "Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living."  While you're on the website, take a look at it as this is where you'll get the treatment for all the neck muscles, including the SCM.

BTW, I used to live in Indio. Loved it, even though it was 128 degrees one summer day!

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly

Repetitive Strain Injury

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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