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Yogashree Devandran, a 30-year-old pre-school teacher, has suffered from pain in the neck — and shoulder — for almost four years. On some days, especially at the end of a work week, the pain was so excruciating that she had “tension headaches and urges to vomit”. 

She sought help and depended on a potent muscle relaxant to manage the pain but her condition got worse. If she turned her head to look at something, she could only turn to a limited degree and to turn any further, she would have to turn her whole body. The pain even woke her up at night. 

A friend told her about the musculoskeletal (MSK) clinic in St Luke’s Hospital. At her first consultation in July, Yogashree heard that her head was protruding forward, which meant her neck and shoulder muscles were working extra hard. 

Senior physiotherapist Aruna Vijaya Ratnam helped Yogashree to relax her tight muscles, and taught her simple neck and shoulder exercises to strengthen them. Yogashree also learnt how to correctly apply hot packs for pain relief and to select the right pillow. 

“Now I can have 2 pain-free days, which is a luxury, and I can sleep through the night pain-free” said a much-relieved Yogashree. “I am in good hands and look forward to more pain-free days.” 

Muscle-related pain is not unusual and common reasons are poor ergonomics or repetitive loading injuries. “When your pain becomes persistent and you cannot seem to relieve your symptoms no matter what you do, that is probably a signal to seek help,” said Aruna. 

The clinic opened in 2015 and helps patients with MSK conditions such as back, shoulder and neck pains, and referral pains such as numbness in hands and legs. 

Photo caption: Aruna helps Yogashree manage her pain in the neck. 

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