Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On InstagramVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed

Iwan Sadler, CSM Patient

Symptoms to Diagnosis - Part 1

A Patient's Story

Iwan Sadler

My name is Iwan Sadler. I’m 45 from Wales in the UK and recently had cervical spine surgery on November the 4th 2015. I had an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) at C4 to C7. I am now two weeks down the line and recovering well. This is my story.

It all started back in 2000. I kept on having reoccurring neck problems; pain in my left shoulder radiating up my neck, It would get so severe at some stages that I would hardly be able to move my neck. I found myself going to the doctors and sometimes A&E. It was always diagnosed as a muscular problem, treated with pain killers, anti-inflammatories and neck exercises. They did offer a quick fix but the symptoms soon returned.

Iwan Sadler

In the summer of 2014 I was working as usual making a pallet of animal feed for a customer. I picked up a 20kg sack from the floor, turned around and placed the bag on the top of the pallet as I normally do every day but this time I felt a pain in my left arm a bit like muscle cramp but a deeper pain. I tried to ignore it and put it down as being muscular but the pain wasn’t subsiding and getting worse as the days went on.

I started to develop something new; my forearm would cramp up when I bent my wrist while bearing weight on it and finally my neck locked up again. I couldn’t ignore it anymore and made another trip to A&E. This time I had new symptoms and I explained to the doctor it was a re-occurring problem for the last fifteen years. He was amazed that I had never had an x-ray done. He immediately sent me for an X-ray of my neck. Within an hour I was back in the doctors room in A&E looking at my x-ray. He explained to me that I had a lot of wear and tear in my neck with signs of arthritis. He asked me if I had any recent trauma and I explained to him my hobbies and my job and that my neck pain had been an issue for the last fifteen years. He wrote a letter to my own doctor, advising him that I needed an MRI.

I have always been pretty active guy doing windsurfing, cycling, regular weight training and JuJitsu. Work was also physical, in a warehouse lifting 20kg feed bags where we could easily handle 6 tonne of feed during a shift! I don’t think this lifestyle helped my neck, especially having spent 10 years hunched over a computer as a designer prior. 

As my symptoms progressed I struggled to train or work. I started having really severe headaches that would hurt from the base of my skull up to the back of my eyes and then radiate to the front of my head. One day in work, it was so severe, I ended up in hospital segregated in my own room with suspected meningitis. I had an MRI and a lumbar puncture, but after spending two days in there the headache had eased and I was discharged with no diagnosis. I was none the wiser but grateful I didn’t have meningitis!

I had to stop training as my neck and back issues were really affecting me. After doing Ju Jitsu for fifteen years this was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but my job and health came first- I had a family and I couldn’t afford to loose my job due to my sickness record but saying that the company was very understanding.

Even though I had stopped my activities I was still suffering the pain and the frequency of problems was getting worse. I tried visiting a chiropractor and stretching exercises. I even tried a neck collar I found on the internet that you put in the microwave to warm you up. I did find that my pain would subside a bit if I could get to work on the muscle knots in my shoulder and this just made me conclude that it was a muscular problem but why was it giving me so much pain?

Iwan Sadler -Biography

Iwan Sadler, patient turned activist for cervical spondylotic myelopathy. He is working to raise the profile of the condition and support others affected.
and now runs the Myelopathy Support section
and the Facebook Support Group.

Do you or someone you care for suffer from Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy?

Help researchers at the University of Cambridge – complete an online survey