Oklahoma man suffers major stroke from popping his neck

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(CNN/KOCO) -

A 28-year-old Oklahoma man suffered a stroke by popping his neck.

"The moment I heard the pop, everything on my left side started to go numb," Josh Hader said. "I got up and tried to get an ice pack from the fridge, and I remember I couldn't walk straight."

His father-in-law rushed him to the emergency room.

"I had about six or seven nurses and doctors surrounding me," Hader said.

Dr. Vance McCollom, at Mercy Hospital, said Hader’s stroke could have killed him.

McCollom shared an X-ray of his patient's neck, showing a tear in his vertebral artery - a crucial vessel leading to the brain.

"If you have a stroke in that area you can end up with a patient - they're 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 was not that significant, but it caused a lot of damage. One of the muscles that goes to his eye is weak from an injured nerve, the doctor said.

Hader had to wear an eyepatch for several days. Doctors decided his condition was best treated with medicine and physical therapy.

"For the first few days, I couldn't walk without a walker," Hader said.

The walker is put away, but he still has trouble with his left leg. Also, he had a strange side effect: painful hiccups that lasted for nearly two weeks.

Hader said the hiccups were so bad, they nearly caused a panic attack. But the most difficult part is not being able to help his wife care for their two young children.

"I can't pick him up out of the crib, give him milk in the middle of the night, I can't do any of that," he said.

McCollom said Hader will probably always have consequences from his stroke. The doctor said if people are going to pop their neck, they should just move their head from side to side.

"Don't twist it," McCollom said. "Whenever you twist it, there's a risk of tearing that vessel. … I suspect he just turned it real sharply and then sharp and up and back. That's what really pinched it."

Before Hader went in to have his procedure, he wanted to tell his wife one thing.

"He wanted to tell his wife he was sorry that he had popped his neck," McCollom said. "His wife had been telling him, 'Don't pop your neck, you're going to cause a stroke.'"

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