Recovery progress after stroke and vertebral artery dissection

I have been meaning to provide an update on my recovery progress after suffering the vertebral artery dissection and stroke. I had another MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) scan of my head and neck vasculature on January 30th, about eight weeks after the stroke and six weeks after beginning the anticoagulant therapy.

MRA results

The report I received from the radiologist who read/interpreted the MRA images stated that my vertebral artery had an “essentially normal appearing lumen” with no signs of the dissection from before. This is simply amazing to me that the dissected vertebral artery has healed completely.

While I’m overjoyed, I do need to await the consult with my neurologist to discuss the MRA report and determine what happens next in my treatment plan. That appointment is in about 10 days from today. My expectation is that I’ll still need one or more follow-up MRAs to watch for any potential issues with my vertebral arteries or cranial vasculature—just in case—and hopefully I can scale back or discontinue the anticoagulation therapy immediately.

Vertebral artery images: then and now

Below are images of my vertebral artery showing the dissection and narrowing of the lumen ← as compared to the same after six weeks of anticoagulant therapy → showing a return to normal size and function.

Comparison MRAs showing vertebral artery dissection ← and recovery →


And, below is the larger image of the latest MRA of the carotid and vertebral arteries with the right side showing signs of recovery.

My follow-up MRA showing recovery of right vertebral artery 8 weeks after dissection.

What now?

My primary doctor has cleared me for any activity I want to do including running, cycling, and other sports with the exception of anything at high altitudes (> 10,000 ft.) or at extreme pressure (scuba diving). I’m slowly getting back into my fitness/training regimen with an eye toward some ultra running goals later this year. With the recurrence possibility of this type of artery dissection and stroke slim to none, I intend to live life fully and demonstrate that exercise truly is the best medicine.

461 Replies to “Recovery progress after stroke and vertebral artery dissection”

  1. I experienced a dissection in 2011 and have been doing ok until recently I took a new job requiring a lot of writing and research related work. I have found that my ability to write and communicate has been effected. Is this common? What is the long term effects of a bilateral dissection?

    1. I am a 43 yo female. I had my first VAD on the right side in 2009, 2 weeks after having an ectopic pregnancy. I was hospitalized and put on Coumadin and gave myself Lovenox injections for 2 months. Within the last 7 years I have had at least 5 more VAD’s on the right and left side. But by the grace of God I never suffered a stroke from any of them. I was just left with horrific pain in the right side of my neck and head. I have nerve injections at least once a month for relief of pain. My quality of life has been miserable. I have managed to maintain my job and family life but only by prayer. For the last 8 years I have been sent to every neurologist and vascular doctor in my own city as well as 300 miles away from home. Just last week I went to see a new neurovascular surgeon that just moved to our city. I finally after 8 years have found a doctor that could explain to me what is going on in my body. I have been diagnosed with Fibromuscular Dysplasia and he believes that I have some type of autoimmune disease that is the cause of the FD. I have had more VAD’s on the right side than the left. To the point that my right vertebral artery is completed diseased and is not circulating any blood to my brain. It is merely circulating blood into the tiny arteries that supply the muscle fibers. That is were all of the right sided pain is coming from. The left vertebral artery is now my dominant artery but is diseased and scarred from the prior VAD’s. I have been sent to a rheumatologist first to get testing for autoimmune disease before the doctor will do a cerebral arteriogram to see what can be done to help open the path for circulation in the left artery. I am soooo happy to have finally found someone that actually has an explanation of why my pain and suffering has been so incredibly bad but at the same time I am soooo scared. I hope that this helps anyone out there that is having the same issues as myself. If you have seen multiple doctors with no answers please look into the Fibromuscular Dysplasia and autoimmune route. This might just be what is going on with you.

  2. Wow. Like many others I find this website full of personal experiences and it does set my mind at ease a little. I had my VAD 2 1/2 weeks ago After chiropractic adjustment. I’m a 28 yr old female. After experiencing migraine like symptoms and a stiff neck for two days, a very knowledgeable doctor in the ED found both of my vertebral arteries have been dissected and are narrowed by 90% . Shockingly I didn’t have a stroke. I was admitted to the ICU for four days and then into the neurosciences department of the hospital there after. I like many of you have described, I’m terrified. The pain and/or dull headaches that seem constant, send me into a panic and frenzy almost every night. I am on Coumadin and recently was able to stop giving myself the Lovenox injections. Now that my blood is ” therapeutic”. I was told by my Doctor Who discharged me I could resume to “normal activity”. I went back home to picking up my two-year-old and almost 1-year-old, cleaning the house etc. and then wound up back in the emergency department with sharp searing pains on my right side of my head. Since then I have not been lifting our children very often. I’m lucky to have the help of my family members. I would happily take any and all advice. I guess the pain does really, when I think about it too much or seems to be in the evening/night time. Is this normal ? The mild dizziness? Will it ever go away or get better? I don’t have another CT scheduled for six months. Blessings and positive vibes to you all!!

    1. My headaches and facial pain resolved after about 3-4 weeks. I had a left vad with a brainstem stroke. I am 3.5 mos out and have regained most everything. I still have bouts of dizziness and nystagmus related to my vestibular tract getting fried but with rehab, those are greatly improved. I went back to work part time at day 90 and resumed Crossfit the same day. I approach CF with caution, however. If you have any dizziness, I’d highly recommend a referral to ENT to get set up with a vestibular therapist. I think your pain episodes will resolve. Big thing is to remain patient and remember that even a bad sprained ankle can take much months to heal. You’re young, your body can still take a joke. You will heal. Good luck.

  3. Hi guys… Ds is sikander from india. I had VAD on January 22 2017 while playing cricket. I was bowling nd dn suddenly i feel d giddiness nd weakness on right side of my body. After MRI and CT ANGEO d doctors cnfrmed dt it ws VAD. After 2 mnths i go through CT ANGEO again nd d reports show my artery fully recovered. I am still on asprin , clopid and atorvas tabs. Sometimes i still feel little headache nd itz more like psychological now. Got more confident after reading ur stories. Can anyone plz suggest wt precautions i should take to go through d same again. Thank u

    1. Hi Sikander,

      Good to hear your artery has fully healed. Once that has happened, you should be back to normal, however, as you said, it might be all in your head now. I had my VAD Dec 2015 and my last MRI was Oct 2016 which should it was stable, still not completely healed yet. My headaches stopped around April 2016 but I still get a bit light headed from time to time, think this might be a mild panic attack or something. We have all been through a traumatic experience and not everyone comes out of it feeling chipper.
      Take it easy for a while but also think how lucky we are that we are still here to talk about it.
      Hope you get back to the cricket soon, my playing days are long behind me, but I still love the game.
      Take care,

    2. You need to talk to your neurologist about this, I had a stoke back in Nov. I had a Vertebral Dissection and have had multiple ct and mris done. I am young(34 yrs of age) and after seeing my Neurologist on and off for 6 months we did a CTA and it came back with no significant signs of dissection, she gave me the clear to go back to work. ALL THOUGH I was put on light duty, I am an avid golfer and she told me that it was up to ME and how I felt to do these things. I haven’t been out yet, but I would go with what the doctor “orders

  4. Hi everyone it has been really therapeutic hearing success stories from people who have experienced VAD.

    As a 33 y/o ED Doctor I suddenly developed vertigo after my night shifts a week ago followed by mild occipital headaches, and have only recently been diagnosed with left VAD with left cerebellar infarct. I have never been unwell and done everything possible to live a “healthy” lifestyle.

    Touch wood I have made a good neurological recovery, but still awaiting further tests as the scans are inconclusive for VAD and they are worried about other vascular anomalies.

    I refuse to play the victim and I deliberately tell myself that pre-CT era I would have been diagnosed with stress induced chronic migraines (which I stupidly diagnosed myself with 3 days prior to seeking medical advice). For that reason is warms me to know that people have successfully gone on to live normal, active lives and not felt limited in their life choices.

    Thank you everyone for sharing these stories. It has made me a lot more philosophical about recent events and it is so nice to feel like I am not alone.

    1. Hi Ryan! Welcome to the club! Life does march on and the terror does subside as the years go forward. I had a VAD and a Carotid dissection almost 2 years ago when doing a spin class and am much improved. Whenever I start to worry, I say to myself ” Yes, these bad things can happen, BUT NOT TODAY”. It seems to refocus me on the good stuff. Speaking of good stuff, how wonderful that you are a ED doctor! You can share your personal knowledge about dissections with your staff and patients and look for this when people present with these symptoms. I was diagnosed within 5 minutes in the ED at a small coastal hospital by a PA and I will forever be thankful for him. I just presented as a migraine sufferer with neck pain and a tiny bit of numbness on the top of my head. He saved my life with his knowledge of a rare condition. But back to you; you will heal and from time to time you will have weird symptoms that will cause distress but you will go on to live a healthy life because if you look at the literature it clearly states that there is an excellent prognosis for VAD if you make it through the initial event. Good luck and God bless!

    2. Also a doc here. FP in Chicago. Had a R VAD after scuba diving and diagnosed myself with panic attacks. Had intermittent TIAs which caused “panick” and a normal MRI. Ultimately had a mild R meduallry CVA about 2 weeks ago and I am now recovering nicely with some PT/OT. Take care of yourself. One day at a time.

      1. My husband is an Internal Medicine physician and it took us a week to figure out what happened to me. I’ve just never had health issues and was training for a half marathon in a few weeks. There was an astute Radiologist on call the night I went to ED that happened to notice the dissection. They had ordered a scan of my neck thinking perhaps a soft tissue injury, swollen glands, etc. After the initial scan, they did a more detailed one which clearly showed the amount of stenosis.
        I feel truly lucky to be alive and my 6 month scan showed no signs of dissection. At the 7 month mark, my headaches are gone completely. Best wishes and a speedy recovery to everyone who has endured this bump in the road.

    3. Hi, I had a VAD 10 days ago. I’m amazed by all the comments on here and glad to see people doing so well.
      The 10-11 days leading up to my stroke I had a headache at the back/bottom of my head, the day before my stroke I had 4-5 dizzy spells. I went to the doctors the next day and was told that I was fine, I left with stronger pain killers. Approximately 15 minutes after leaving the Doc’s I had my stroke. My right side went to jelly, it seemed like a curtain was pulled across my right eye and I couldn’t talk properly. I managed to lean on something to hold me up. This lasted for about 10 – 15 minutes. I went home and went to bed, I woke about half an hour later with my right side being totally numb. This lasted for about 10 minutes. I sought medical advice and was sent to the stroke clinic the following day. An MRI confirmed a VAD on my left side. I’ve been so lucky that I can still walk and talk.
      I’ve been put on blood thinners, beta blockers and pain killers. I feel as though the Doc’s have decided that I’m ok and have sent me on my way. They said they would see me again in 2 months. In the mean time, I have no idea of what I should or shouldn’t be doing. Am I allowed to exercise? I’m assuming roller coasters are out of the question? Will I be on blood thinners for the rest of my life? How long do the headaches and dizzy spells last for? Any information would be great. Thank you.

      1. It sounds like you are doing well after it, I was on proper blood thinners for 6 month and then aspirin for all of my life, light exercise won’t do any harm but I would build it up not go to the hard stuff straight away. I haven’t been on a rollercoaster since last year I darent do it. I was looking everywhere to see if I could drink alcohol and fly when I had my VAD. My doctor told me I can drink within reason not to go on the lash and I could fly in the September when I had the VAD in June, I suppose it’s different for everyone , I hope you recover well x

      2. Hi Elaine, I sure do remember being in your same position. Scared. Terrified to move. Terrified to sleep, breathe, etc..
        It gets easier. Don’t exercise ( except for walking) until you have gone back and the dissection has healed/stabilized. Don’t lift anything heavy. Eat well, rest, spend some time outside in the sunlight and take time off work while you recover. The fear will always be there but it does shrink with time. It sounds like you are already healing nicely, keep up the good work! Hugs, leah

        1. Thank you so much for your comments. I had a headache for 6 days when I decided it was nothing like my usual migraines and to get it.checked. I am a 49yo female and presented at hospital with blood pressure 213/150. After many days and tests I.Was sent home on aspirin and blood pressure tablets with a diagnosis of dissection to both vertebral arteries and one carotid artery on the right. I still have crazy spasms through my neck and a headache if I move the wrong way. My head feels pressure when I stand up for too long and doesn’t like to support itself. I have been terrified by this pain but potentially it is nerves around the blood vessels that have been affected also. I would love to hear from anyone else who still has pain and how long it took to subside. I have been diagnosed with fmd. Very appreciative and encouraged by you all sharing your stories.

          1. I, too, have FMD. It never showed up clearly on any MRA scans and I had many. But it was clear as day on a CT scan. Anyone who is a female ( 90% are female) who has had a dissection should consider going to an FMD clinic and getting all arteries tested for this disorder. Its manageable and you can live a healthy life but you need regular follow-up to prevent complications. I went to Dr. Jeffery Olin @ mount Sinai in NYC and couldn’t have been happier with the level of experience, care, and follow up from him and his staff. Cleveland clinic is another amazing one.

        2. Leah, you mentioned Cleveland Clinic. Who would you recommend there for evaluation of my post stroke after affects? (I seem to be in that 10% or so strake survivors who develop neuropathy-type pain, numbness etc.) I haven’t been able to identify the stroke expertise I know is there and would appreciate the recommendation. My stroke occurred 2 1/2 years ago.

    4. Hey I’m 34 and also had a VAD at age 32 which resulted in a cerebellar infarct. Acute symptoms were vertigo, uncontrollable vomiting, loss of vision and hearing on left side. Total recover after 4 months. My question is my neurologist and my vascular doctor have both cleared me to scuba dive but I’m still leary. It’s been almost 3 years since the VAD. What do you guys think?

      1. Thanks for chiming in here, Chris. Your symptoms sound like they were pretty scary, but I’m so glad you’ve recovered fully (and it’s been a couple of years). It’s tough to tell you to ignore your gut/heart on whether or not to scuba dive again. I’d say if your doctors think it’s OK, it probably is! That said, maybe you can start back slowly, like not diving deep, staying under too long, or ascending quickly. Perhaps a conservative approach to diving again would help ease your concerns.

    5. Hey. 45 yo ED doc s/p vad with Wallenberg and horners on 2/1/17 (after an overnight!). Now 4/18. Doing well. Most limiting residual is nystagmus and a vertiginous sensation. Any advice on how long the visual processing issues lasted for you, if you had them? Thanks. Tim

  5. I am 26 years old and I suffered a stroke due to dissection of my left vertebral artery. The stroke affected my left cerebellum so I’ve had a lot of trouble with my vestibular system. I have regained a lot of my balance and have returned to some normal activities. Does the dizziness & light headedness ever go away ? I also experience extreme vertigo whenever I lay flat on my back. Any tips / advice ?

    1. I am 47 and had a spontaneous dissection in my right carotid artery 7 months ago. I am happy to say that my head and neck aches are almost non-existent now. It took almost 4 months before I saw much progress and I also was diagnosed with new Vertigo at about month 3. It only lasted a month then one day just vanished as quickly as the onset had happened. I found that sleeping on my side for a few hours at night really helped. There is also a type of physical therapy for Vertigo but was not recommended for me due to the dissection. Therapy involves manipulation of the head/neck to get the inner ear corrected.
      The recovery takes time and patience. Just try to relax and don’t be too hard on yourself. Good luck in your recovery!

    2. Hiya, I was 21 when I suffered from a VAD i was completely spontaneous as I got it from blowing my nose! This was about 5 days when I started getting a headache and flu like syptoms and I rang the none emergency number, I was told it’s just a headache just get a hot water bottle. ( they didn’t suspect anything as I was only 21) I woke up about 3am with a weird feeling ( you know when you hang your body of the bed to get the control or something and your head does that fuzzy thing) it was like that but continuously. My eyes went back and I was throwing up. I eventually got to sleep took the next few days of work, I’m glad I did as about 5 days later I had I blew my nose and must of dislodged the tear. Going to a and e was a blur I don’t really remember having the stroke, even though I was conscious at the time. I just remember I couldn’t control my tongue and couldn’t breathe. It was too fast. I had a ct scan and you could see something there but it wasn’t that clear I had two mri scans after that. One with contrast. I went through about 5 days in hospital as I couldn’t walk or talk and it took me two people to go to the toilet. I got sent home in quite a bad state as my ward was full of loads of old biddys and they thought it would effect my mood drastically if I stayed. I’m glad I went home. I was downstairs in my parents house in a bed just waiting for my daily physo, I’m glad it was me and no one that I know as they don’t have the patience to do that. 3 months on and I could walk but only in my house and couldn’t really get up the stairs my speech was still slurred and I didn’t really have the motor skills to text or write. But the 4th month I could do a lot even get up the stairs.I was even planning on going back to work my right hand was still very unreliable I didn’t really trust it it’s only been 7 months now and I am a proud lefty as I don everything but write with it. At 7 months I still have to do two trips up the stairs with hot drinks. As I can’t balance with both hands full. It’s sad but I’m working on it I was back at work at 4 and a half months. I still now suffer with neck pain and head aches. Eventhough strokes you get fatigued, I get it when I’m doing something, but I have insomnia I can’t really sleep at night. I think it’s because I don’t want it to happen in my sleep ( even the doctor has said it’s healed up, I can’t stop thinking about it) I prefer to nap when I come home from work so I know someone is awake. I haven’t had a full nights sleep since I was very ill. I avoid to be on my own. I avoid me driving also as I don’t want it to happen then. I only sometimes get dizzy when I lay down, it’s generally when I wake up. Does anyone know if it’s a good idea to get your eyes tested? Also if anyone knows some sleep tricks I’m all ears. Please no tablets I’m on enough!

      – Kayl

      1. That is very similar to me. I was a little older ar 27. It’s now 10 months since the unfortunate event. Left vertebral artery dissection followed baby a stroke. Mine affected my left side so being right handed, it was not too bad. I’m like you still improving but balance of my affected hand is proving most difficult. I also need two trips with hot drinks. I can jog very slowly for a very short amount of time (about 10 seconds) but it all seems so awkward, like my right is fluent and I’m forcing my left. Is this the same for anyone else?

      2. I also had sleep problems for the first six months. After my stroke I was a very light sleeper never going into a deep sleep. I felt like I never got a good nights rest even though I slept a lot. But it has been 13 months now and I am sleeping fine. It just takes time. God bless.

    3. It does get better! I’m 2.5 years post left side VAD and multiple strokes in the cerebellum. I did a significant amount of vestibular therapy. Being in healthcare, I can’t say I was a proponent, but it changed by life. It taught me skills to use and progress back to my previous self. I still experienced vertigo when physical exhausted or suffering sinus issues. However, they are greatly diminished.

    4. My boyfriend had a dissection of the right vertebral artery on December 15th . He had 3 strokes affecting the cerebellum. He still has dizziness issues and vertigo decently bad still.

    5. Are you still on blood thinners? You should talk to your doctor about taking meclazine for the vertigo. Hopefully the vertigo will go away when the artery heals.

    6. I suffered a R VAD two years ago. For approximately one month after the VAD I had difficulty balancing while walking. Gradually these symptoms disappeared and within a short period I was back jogging and stil am at 68 years of age., I’m on warfarin for life and I feel fine and healthy. Incidentally , my mother was on warfarin for 35 years and lived to the age of 92

      1. It will improve! I’m 2.5 years post VAD with strokes in the cerebellum. It was very frustrating at times, but consistent exercises to retrain my vestibular system have been successful. Don’t be discouraged. It took longer than I wanted or expected, but it will get better.

    7. I as well had this but on the right side though, from what I have been told from my neurologist every person is different and how they heal and their body reacts to this. My side effects are that the left side of my body is extremely sensitive to heat and the right side of my body is sensitive to cold. Glad to see that you are a SURVIVOR just like me!!!

  6. Thanks for your response, it’s alway’s good to know you’re not alone. I’m now more than 2 years post incident. I’d say I’m 85-90% back with no opening of my left artery. It still takes me a few steps after sitting or lying down for awhile to get rid of the “funkiness”in walking. My right side initially had little sensation at all but the last 18 months or so has been returning too.

    1. Tom, You wrote ” It still takes me a few steps after sitting or lying down for awhile to get rid of the “funkiness”in walking. ” After two years from the event, I have the same sensations.

      1. Mary, it certainly(my funkiness) has improved over the 2 years but remains to a lesser degree. The positive is I’m still improving. My neurologist thru Mayo Clinic has really put very little restrictions on me from the onset. I swam 4-5 times a week and returned to that right away but boy was it different and now it’s like it was before. I went to Mexico at 5 months and getting into the ocean was really tough but a year later unbelievably better. Escalators was the same way, not totally back to normal but continuing to still improve!!!

    2. Escalators. Who knew they could be so troubling? After 13 months post VAD I still feel discomfort when on an escalator. Other than never being able to get on a roller coaster again the escalator phenomenon still haunts me.

  7. I am thrilled to have found this website, since my neurologist has been less than helpful. I am 42, in good health and suffered a left side VAD in July 2016. I have since slowly improved. although my MRI shows the the artery on my left side is mostly occluded. In the last week or so, symptoms seemed to have reappeared. I have left side numbness, head pain and left side headache. I am wondering if anyone else has experienced recurring symptoms. We have had bad weather and I did a pretty big workout. Thoughts…I am worried. My neurologist was fairly flippant in her response but I don’t feel good and also have nausea.

    1. Disturbing symptoms come and go and scare the life out of you, but the more time that passes, the more they recede. My stroke experience was over 2 years ago, and I am almost twice your age.

      The truth is that most doctors don’t know much about stroke and that’s why you can’t find out much. Try to find somebody who specializes in stroke. You may have one that specializes in something else, yet still be a neurologist.

      One thing want to mention that might be helpful: You said the weather was bad where you are. That can affect the way you feel. Believe it or not, weather affects people who have had strokes. Notice how much better you feel when a “high” moves in and settles in your area. Imagine normalcy again and over time you will find it. Don’t get discouraged.

    2. Kerryn,
      A year and a half later I still get numbness and tingling in my face that randomly comes and goes- its worse when the weather changes and I overdo it with exercise and stress. I have a VAD unhealed and a carotid dissection that’s totally healed.Request another MRA and if everything is normal, its just overexertion. Its scary but it seems to be our bodies way of telling us to take it easy.

    3. Kerryn, I’m sorry to hear this. I think you really need to be taking it easy still until you are all healed. My neurologist said to not get my blood pressure up but I can do light walking for exercise but don’t over do it. I’m an active person too so this is hard for me. However, remember we have our entire lives to workout, right now just be nice to your body and don’t over do it. This will take time to heal.

  8. Howdy, thank you for creating this resource.

    I am 28 years old, physically and clinically heathy, and in shape.

    January 2016 I woke up at 8am with a mild headache which I assumed was caused by dehydration or fatique. From the beginning of my work day at 9am i consuned a ton of water, but the general head pain did not subside. Highly unusual for me, as I have no history of headache and had not experienced any sort of persistent head pain ever in my lifetime.

    Even though I am not a habitual coffee drinker, i thought perhaps Caffeine would help, so I had a cup of coffee at 4pm.

    By 8pm my head pain had escalated from mild to moderate and was now becomming very uncomfortable.

    By the end of my shift at 10pm head pain had not reduced. After dinner I went to bed at 12am, experiencing the same moderate headache.

    At 3am I awoke from bed, with such excruciating head pain that I was vomitting, fetal position on the bathroom floor. My Girlfriend rushed to the store – 5 minutes away – to grab ibuprofen, which I in turn swallowed but was unable to keep down as I dry heaved.

    At 3:20am I experienced extreme dizziness, and impaired motor function followed immediately by complete loss of vision, and speach. I was helpless and terrified as I was unable to see or articulate my condition.

    When paramedics arrived I had been unconcious for 10-15 minutes. An EMT woke me up and began a stroke test which revealed that only 50% of my vision had returned. The left half of my visual field had vanished, the right side was blurry.

    Speach recovered almost immediately, albeit slurred.

    Stroke caused by occipital dissection from snowboarding several days or weeks prior.

    I am still partially blind. My brain no longer processes the left peripheral visual field of either eye. The left 1/4 of my vision is completely gone…Healthy eyes, damaged brain.

    I was wearing a snowboard helmet and was riding conservatively, at a beginner level.

    We are all fortunate we’re alive to share our experiences. I am back on the mountain this season riding carefully. I do need to go in for a follow up MRI.

    Any questions or comments please feel free to chime in! Thanks for reading!

    – Aaryn

    1. Aaryn
      Thanks for sharing.
      Had a vertebral dissection this past weekend. Loss of sight for 50 seconds and room spinning out of control for two hours. Your experience sounds much more frightening.
      Congrats on getting back out there. My question is. How long did it take to heal? And then for you to feel safe being active?
      I am 33 yo, very healthy male. Main activities are surfing and heavy weight lifting 5 days a week. I love to push myself. No cause know. But I suspect myself it was the weights. No traumatic head injury or even a bump lately.
      I find I’m having a tough mental block between wanting to push myself again and being frightened of recurrence.
      Also, the first few days have been tough. I feel like I need to walk on egg shells or it’s going to burst again. What was your experience both near and longer term?

      Thank you for sharing.

  9. I just had my VAD on Dec. 21 after a workout. Prior to that I was working out every other day with the same intensity. Pain in the back of the head/neck area and dizziness occurred.
    It’s only been 5 days and I just want to get back to normal. I miss the gym and the results were coming in. Hope to get back in 6-8 weeks.

    1. HI, I was at the gym too when my dissection happened. That was a year and a half ago. I was given the green light at 12 months to start working out again. It will take time to recover and this is a serious injury so you shouldn’t push yourself right now. Just walk and be calm, eat healthy, and let your body repair. Things will go back to normal soon enough for you. Best regards-Leah

    2. Robert, I’ve ended up at the hospital just 3 days ago. Same story, have been doing street work out for a year, 3 months ago leveled up to intermediate level, doing 4-5 routines weekly. Enjoyed progress very much. Last Sunday our car got stuck in snow and we pushed it in order to get it out . Monday I felt good, no trouble. On Tuesday while catching the train to work felt back neck pain. While at the office pain didn’t go away and I additionally felt dizzy.
      Went home and next day stayed home as thought this would help to get rid of pain. But on Thursday I got up with the same symptoms and decided to go see the neurologist. And after he visit I was urgently placed to the hospital. After he MRA the diagnosed the right VAD. Now I’m on meds and tomorrow the are doing another MRA. Doctors said that they might need to do an invasive therapy. I was wondering if you or anyone else here know what that might be? I’m not a big fan of surgeries, as you might imagine )) Hope everyone is getting better and we all be back on track soon! Greed, Pavel

      1. They could do an angiogram which is a procedure where they measure the level of stenosis or blockage of the dissection. In my case, they did an angiogram (which was not painful) and decided not to fix the dissection. If the blockage is significant and/or the benefits outweigh the risks, they can insert a stint that will open the dissection.

      2. Melissa, you were right, they did an angiogram, wasn’t that nice but manageable;) lucky for me they are letting me go and put me on meds for 4 weeks. Then another CT angiogram and they will tell if it heals or I need stents. Now only calmness and no sports.

  10. Hi everyone,
    I’m 12 months post VAD with TIA’s, all seems to be fine. Last MRI was a few months ago and as I’ve not heard anything I take it everything is going to plan. I take aspirin everyday. I’ve noticed that a lot of comments on here mention about drinking lots of water. That is something that has not been mentioned to me by my consultants in the UK. Does anyone know why we should drink more water than normal?
    On another note, I read an article today about a UK man who won £90,000 from his hairdresser after he suffered a VAD with stroke from having his head bent over the wash basin! Shame I can’t use that as an excuse for my VAD – my hair went out with shoulder pads!
    Good luck to all, and those who have recently suffered their VAD’s, it will get better, just takes a bit of time.

  11. So glad to find this positive story about such a great recovery following stroke due to VAD. I went to the ER 8 days ago with vomiting and not being able to stand up. They did the usual stroke check and I had no other symptoms such as loss of weakness on one side or slurring speech. A CT scan was negative. After 10 hours of observation they were going to send me home but thank goodness one doc thought one of my eyes looked just a touch different, and ordered an MRI. Was diagnosed with VAD on left side, and had had a stroke. I was so shocked. I’m 39, healthy, athletic, do Crossfit 3x/week, have zero other risk factors for stroke. After 7 days in hospital and starting PT there, am now transferred to rehab center for more intense rehab. Balance is coming back, can walk totally unassisted, but the most disconcerting thing is this foggy feeling in my head – feels like being drunk or on heavy pain meds (I’m not on any pain meds, just aspirin etc) – I hope this goes away soon as it is so unnerving. Hard to focus on PT when so constantly dizzy/lightheaded/foggy. But overall – I’m focused on 100% recovery and will not be reading any more of the too-many-stories out there about more severe/different types of stroke that seem to have less change for full recovery. It’s easy to scare myself, but per this blog and a few other great ones, I’m committed to getting back to my former self as much as possible!

    1. You will have 100% recovery. Your age and the mildness of the stroke, plus your great attitude, will assure it.

      I am 78 and had a VAD 2 years ago, but I remember the foggy head and the dizzy episodes following the event and it scared me that it would always be that way. But “time heals all wounds” is really true. Relax and enjoy life more fully because you are alive. Remember to drink a lot of water every day! The fog and little pains in the head will retreat with time.

      Congratulations, you are a survivor, and life will be good again. My husband and I just brought home a Christmas tree, and our family will be coming here for Christmas. I have recovered and I can imagine that you will do it much faster because you are in your power years!. God bless you in your recovery!

    2. It’s comforting to read other stories of people who have been through this. I had a VAD with TIA 6 days ago. It started with neck pain & I began loosing vision in my left eye. The ER doc told me it was a migraine even though I didn’t have a headache. Luckily the neurologist requested a CT/MRI. I’m 33, do crossfit 3-4x/week. Since being home I’ve been so scared it’s going to happen again because of the sharp pains I get in my head & the dizziness (which my neurologist says was part of the healing process).

    3. Hi Kelly, sorry to hear this. Similar thing happened to me, however I’ve suffered no stroke or TIA. I remember feeling under the weather and I looked in the mirror to find my eye drooping and pupil constricted. Horners syndrome. After a CT scan and MRI it was determined I’d dissected my ICA. I’ve noticed that cross fit could be a cause, I’m also part of the craze. Two days before I was doing head stand push ups, then the day after thrusters ladder. I think I’ve either come down hard on my head or landed a loaded bar on to my shoulders and banged it against my neck? Would be interesting to know what exercises you had been doing prior to your diagnosis.

    4. Just had VAD on the 28th. I am home, but am also experiencing the foggy head, and wondering how long that will last? They believe that mine was caused by chiropractor manipulation, but I have yet to let them know. Just happy that I am doing ok. Still need to do PT to get my balance back again, but so thankful that I’m expected to make a full recovery.

      1. I had VAD two years ago at age 76. Had foggy head at first and it wore off. Am one of the few who developed post stroke neuropathy-type symptoms after about a year into recovery, accompanied with profound fatigue. Was despairing of the fatigue because doing anything significant filled me with dread – I didn’t have the energy to do it. About a month ago my new neurologist said “I think I know something that will help you.” I doubted it because I had tried so many things for post stroke pain and they only put me to sleep. But Lyrica, which was new to me, made a tremendous difference in how I feel. Almost immediately the fatigue went away – gone! I am noticing also that there is improvement in my muscle pain on the effected right side. My husband can’t believe the change. I even scrubbed the kitchen floor. Before, I neither could nor wanted to. So don’t believe that long after the stroke, you won’t see improvement, because I just have. Hopefully you will have full recovery without post stroke symptoms. Most do. But for those who develop them, there is still hope of full recovery. Keep trying different meds until you find what’s right or you.

        1. Hi Mary, As always thanks for the positivity in your messages! Just wondering what other symptoms you had or developed one year later? Seems like my fatigue just wont quit! However, after 1 year I switched from Plavix to baby aspirin and much of my energy has returned thankfully….but some days I still have zero energy- just sick tired ( which stinks with young kids)- and the neck/shoulder pain just wont quit.

          1. They were neuropathy symptoms, an enhancement of the sensations I had ever since the stroke. I noticed that instead of getting better, they were getting stronger. I’m speaking right side: foot (cold and numb, hand cold and sometimes so numb that I can’t feel it, shoulder stiff and painful, neck ache at times, right side of mouth numb. In the 2nd year as time went on, all that got worse and the fatigue was overwhelming. I tried all the traditional meds and I couldn’t tolerate them. I am quite sensitive to medication and even in small doses, they affected mind and body too much. The closest I can come to a good description was what I imagine fibromyalgia feels like. Lyrica is prescribed for fibromyalgia, and perhaps that’s why is has helped me. It took that awful fatigue away almost immediately and about 1/3 of the pain. Without the fatigue, I feel like I can lick twenty tigers today! So have patience. You probably won’t have the lingering symptoms that I had. But if you do, keep an open mind about what will help. You will come out of this just fine – and with deep appreciation for your remarkable brain.

          2. Mary- Thank you, This is good to know for future reference. And truly wonderful news that you are feeling better!!

          3. Thanks for sharing! I’m curious to know if your neck/head pain ever did quit? Did you beat the fatigue? These symptoms are kicking my butt!

          4. The pain stopped after a month. Fatigue was bad. I went from being a 5 hour a night sleeper to 9-10 plus a midday nap. Now it just varies depending on what I do. Going back to work was fatiguing for sure. Important to take all the sleep your body needs. Picture how much your baby sleeps. Same thing. Brain healing/growth happens while you are asleep.

    5. Kelley, I’m about 10 weeks post RVAD and getting back into triathlon training again. You have described precisely what happened to me – precisely!! By now you’ll be 1 month down the track and by then I was swimming and riding and also back working a bit. And now I’m training 30-90 minutes per day, have been hiking in the hills, swimming with the kids in rivers (it’s summer in Australia now!), jogging and basically doing 95% of what I was. On specialists orders I’ve kept my HR under 160 but I started in the 120 range – very gentle – and have since slowly been edging upwards. I do find that I get a bit light-headed or woozy after some harder sessions so I’m listening closely to me body and backing off when that happens. But it’s less frequent now and further into the session. I wouldn’t have believed at 2 weeks what I’d be doing after 2 months so I’m sure you will get right back to your crossfit and active life quicker than you think! Good luck.

      1. Hi. I have been looking for others who have shared the same or similar dramas with me and after nearly 3 years of looking this site is close. You see in February 2013 I was 41 and I presented to my local hospital with a sharp excruciating headache – I knew this was something as I have regular migranes and this was worse than anything. This wonderful ED gave me some paracetamol and told me to go home as it was a headache. After withstanding a further 3 days of pain I went to the cities major hospital’s ED. After 5 hours of observation with nil effect or relief from the morphine and explaining that the pain was worse than childbirth, they finally decided to perform a lumbar puncture. Following this inconclusive procedure, I had a CT with nil result, then a CTA which finally showed a brain aneurysm in the right vertebral artery. They actually then decided to treat this a little seriously and I was to be given Warfarin to treat the aneurysm. An intelligent neurologist then decided to perform an MRI prior to this treatment and this showed the VAD which requires the opposite treatment to the aneurysm. With this little dilemma the decision to not perform any treatment was established. So the diagnosis of a spontaneous right VADA resulting in SAH was given. I remained in hospital for a further 10 days under supervision, 5 more CTA’s, 5 MRI’s and an angiogram. On departure they gave me nil medication and told me to return if things didn’t get better. After 5 days I presented back at the ED as this debilitating pain had not eased. This is when they decided to perform another angiogram. During this simple procedure I had a stroke which left me in ICU for 4 days. After this time I seemed to completely recover. I then remained in hospital for another 7 days while neurologists and neurosurgeons discussed what they should do with this (apparently) rare situation. I was released home with Oxycontin, Endone, a referral to one of Australia’s top International cerebrovascular neurosurgeons, a follow up MRI in 3 months and instructions to take it easy. The next MRI showed the VAD had increased in size. At the appointment with the Professor, it was his expert advice to take it easy and this would heal itself in a few months. With another MRI 3 months following showing that the aneurysm had in fact increased in size this time with the VAD remaining but with no increase. The city neurosurgeon recommended that something needed to be done immediately but as he had no experience with this type of situation he referred me once again the Professor. This time the Professor agreed that with the VADA not depleting and in fact increasing that surgery was required immediately. With a 20% chance of something going wrong and a 90% chance that within a month the aneurysm would rupture with a low chance of survival I was booked in for surgery a week following this appointment. So in April 2014 – well over a year from when I was first diagnosed with this VADA and living with this time bomb in my head for that long, i underwent surgery where they clipped the aneurysm and then wrapped the VAD. I survived the surgery with as they say limited collateral damage (a huge scar down side of my head, half head shaved, nerve damage to left side, slurred speech, vertigo, depleted balance and motor skill control). I passed the CTA a year following the surgery or as the Professor states a great success story of his, with a follow up in a further 5 years so as to check on me and to also so they could have future data. Now with nearly 3 years since diagnosed and 2 years since the surgery I still experience debilitating headaches each month, nerve damage to my left side, slurred speech, balance and motor skill deficiency. I tell people that to sit up and walk is very much like a toddler first learning to walk. The concentration it takes. I have to sit up straight, think about what I am going to do, then stand up take a couple of breathes, watch where I am going and then tell myself left, right, left, right. I can not look around or look away from in front of my feet when walking otherwise I will stumble, veer to my right and fall over. It is nice to hear about other situations that are close to mine…..and it does help to vent!

      2. Richard thanks for sharing.
        In the scope of things being a triathlete is not all who we are, but it a life style I have grown to love going on my personal 4th year.
        After what I would call a great HIT bike, a full day of work, I went to master swim. I couldn’t swim at all 3 years ago. This winter I have finally made what I would call serious progress. About 700 meters in I went numb on right side. I got out of pool and the next 24 hours were a world wind. I had a VAD, thankfully the neurologist who was videoed in over ruled ER doctor and gave me TPA. I went from ICU to home in 48 hours. As unlucky as I was I feel lucky to be here writing this.

        5 days after, my balance seems fine but certainly my right hand has some issues. Writing, typing, ect, for lack of better word it seems lazy. The hospital told me and I was lucky to be brought to Boston Medical Center, I should fully recover and should have no effects moving forward. I would be curious to know anyone who had this and what they did to help this or is it permanent.

        That I already know isnt true. I have had minor headaches, cold hand, some numbness, it is scary as hell because they say this a freak thing that can happen to anyone.

        My goal is to get back to tri training with the blessing of my doctor and wife. I may stay away from HIT though. Also, to enjoy life a little more.

        Thank you everyone for sharing this is an incredible resource.

      3. This is so helpful to hear about others’ experiences. I had a VAD and mini stroke Jan 9 2017. I believe it was the result of a near miss vehicle collision. Stroke symptoms have all resolved thank goodness but still working on stamina. I keep the HR less than 110 as i’m just starting to get back to exercise again. Will have first checkup late next month. I’m also curious why lots of water is recommended? I’ll start increasing that today! Hoping to get back to riding my horse in a few months!

    6. Hi.. any update on your recovery? Your event sounds similar to mine but I am about 6 weeks behind you. I am still having fatigue and not back to baseline… although you cannot tell by looking at me. I have not gone back to work yet. still doing day rehab

      1. Don’t know if this is helpful to you or not. I am 34 years older than you and probably our recoveries will be different, but Lyrica took away the brain fog immediately. It didn’t do much for the right-side post stroke regional pain syndrome in hand, arm and shoulder, but it cleared out the foggy feeling. I am 2 1/2 years post stroke. The neuropathy-like “pain” came several months after the stroke. It is a difficult type to treat, but a hot shower and some Aspercreme/Lidocaine on the affected limb does as much as the heavy-duty meds, and doesn’t affect my thinking. I have kept to my normal routine essentials and most people don’t know I had a stroke.

      2. Yes, it did but it’s different for everyone. I was 21 that was 10 months ago when I had the VAD i only really get the dizzy feeling when I’m putting a towel on my head or upside down for some reason. I did have a bad dream a month ago and when I jilted I got it then and actually thought I was dying, hope it goes away

        1. Thanks. I saw a vestibular specialist yesterday. She was hopeful things would resolve with more rehab. I’m a very active 45 year old so maybe a bit impatient.

  12. It has now been 9 months since my VAD. I have found my new normal and I am working on finding comfort in the fact that there are things I will not be able to do. My youngest kids are 12 and 10 and it hurts to tell them I can’t do certain things like go on the rides at Disney or other theme parks. Coping with my new normal is chalIenging. I have also found that I do not do well on escalators. The escalator part is humorous as I sway back and forth while riding. I don’t get the discomfort like I do on rides but it seems to throw off my senses. I write for those that also have to find their new ways of living and it’s tough but it’s just another day.

    1. I’ll bet that your balance will come back, but the improvement will be so subtle that you won’t be aware of it. I had a stroke two years ago and a year ago could not swing in a swing without feeling as though I would be overcome by vertigo. A year later I tried it again and the unsettling sensations from the year before were gone. Reclaiming your old self after a stroke, I’ve found, is a miraculous thing.

    2. I am 38 years old and 5 and half years in recovery. Do not get discouraged at your new normal. Laugh with it. Embrace it. Mine seems to still change day to day. Your kids understand. They just want you to be happy.

    3. Is anyone affected by the weather? I am two years from stroke and have noticed that rain storms and other weather changes knock me for a loop some days. Didn’t used to, but does now. At this rate, I could be a weather forecaster!

      1. Yes! Storms really affect me ( along with any sort of pressure change). My head gets this uneven pressure feeling and the headaches/ odd pains twinges get worse. I’m one year out after VAD; it hasn’t healed.

    4. I am so glad to find this website along with everyone else. I am a healthy 41 yo female. Never been sick no headaches or anything. In August I had two sever headaches two weekends in a row. I decided to go to my dr and he sent me to a neurologist. I didn’t realize how lucky I was with my awesome neurologist. He sent me for tons of tests including a CTA. I got a call about an hour after the CTA and he said I need you to head to the hospital for emergency surgery with a Nuero Surgeon. Really. Talk about scary. I was in my work clothes and expected to go right back to work after the tests. I was lucky and did not have a stroke, I am still having the lovely neck pain and the back of my head. I feel like I can never get enough sleep. I am having my second nuero angiogram Thursday for the nuero surgeon to measure th blood flow and the size of the tear (I hope it’s healed!!). I have lost so much vision in both my eyes. I am also on a high dose of aspririn until further notice.
      I feel normal reading all these posts. I heard that this is a rare thing and I find this website. It is nice to know that there are so many of us. I am glad to read so many recovery stories.
      I even asked my nuero surgeon what next he keeps saying we will know when we go in and see how the artery and tear is doing.

      Has anyone had a stent out in? I am not finding that anyone has. My neurosurgeon said if the tear is worse and bad enough we will discuss a stent.

      1. Hi im stephen 8 months ago i had my vad i recovered alittle i couldnt see talk or feel my whole left side i now see talk have use of leg and arm and hand still alittle numb and still weak i have muscle spasms in leg bad and although i can walk i cant run is it to late to recover anymore have i got back all im getting

        1. Sounds like your recovery is coming along very well. Can you arrange with your neurologist for some PT to strengthen your left side? Keep confident that your remarkable recovery will continue, because it will. Keep after your doctors for any med that might address whatever deficiency you might need to improve. In other words, you will keep returning to normal for months and years to come but you will need to show your doctors that you are going to keep pushing yourself (and them) until you are totally well again. I had a VAD event over two years ago and only recently got a new neurologist who wanted me to try a med to address fatigue and neuropathy I was experiencing. Lo and behold the fatigue left, along with pain reduction, so I am seeing big improvements at the two-year mark. I am 78 and almost fully back to normal.

      2. I had two stents put in my left vertebral artery ten months ago. A few weeks earlier I had spinal surgery and shortly after I lost my voice – it sounded weak and gravely and I needed to breathe very hard to make a sound. I was fortunate to eventually be referred to a good neurologist who had me get an MRI / MRA. After seeing the results, I was immediately rushed to the hospital and prepped for the stenting. It seems that I had a dissection of the artery which resulted in about a half dozen strokes in my brain – one of which affected the nerve controlling the left vocal fold, the others landing in benign areas of the brain.
        The procedure for the stenting was relatively quick and painless as I was administered anesthesia. I spent two nights in the hospital – one before and one after the stenting. A follow up angioplasty two months later showed the stents had repaired the dissection, but my blood flow through that area of the brain was on the low side of normal.
        Possibly because of the reduced blood flow, I’ve been experiencing light headedness every day. That would be the only side effect of the stenting that I’m aware of. The feeling starts when I wake up in the morning and stays with me until mid-afternoon. It certainly affects my mood and my ability to be active, but I need to deal with it. Fortunately my doctors say that the stents saved my life and are working as expected.
        One other thing – after four months my voice returned. So nearly a year after the stents were put in I can say that the only effect I’m experiencing is the foggy lightheaded feeling.

        1. What a fine narrative, John. I am 2 years 3 mos from stroke and have noticed that the random dizzy spells I experienced the first year have stopped now and stabilized. (I am among the 20 % or more who developed post stroke neuro pain, which is a separate issue.) My guess is that your dizzy spells will wear off in time. I would say that you were very blessed.

    5. I have the same issues with escalators and elevators. It was really bad when it first happened . Standing over Heights. Some people just don’t understand, even when you try and explain. Take care.

    6. My dear husband had VAD Nov26, 3 days in ICU, 2 days room. He’s been doing ok at home. Taking aspirin, plavix and blood pressure control medicine. Headache comes and goes. Stiff neck on and off. We booked Cancun trip while ago,, a gift for my parents their age are in middle of 70s. My husband insists that only cancelle his trip, rest of family (me, my 7 yrs son, my parents) go to Cancun Mexico as planed. I really worry about him. Is any one can give any comment should I leave himself 6 days alone at home US

      1. I am 78 and had a VAD 2 years ago. The further away from the event, the greater the chances of not having another one. Strongly advise you stick around and let your parents have a trip with their grandson. I doubt you would enjoy yourself much anyway, worrying about how your husband is doing while you are gone.

      2. It has now been almost a year since my VAD and I have found that even pushing myself a little hasn’t caused any problems. I would say that as long as your husband takes it easy and takes his meds he will be fine when you return. Not sure what caused his dissection but the doctors gave no apparent reason why. I say that to say unless he has a medical condition that increases his chances of another VAD the relaxation and meds will be fine. Hope you enjoy your trip and many years to come with your whole family.

      3. Thank you, Mark. It happened after my husband did couple swings in golf court. He had stiff neck and headache two days before this happened. Now, 2 and half week recovery, he can take care of himself but still feel so dizzy when walking out side the house. I also wonder if VAD patient can take airplane in rest of life

        1. My stroke was considered severe because they couldn’t operate because of were it was. But since it happened I have flown on an airplane a few times. I thought the same thing after it happened but my doctor said it was ok. I didn’t have any complications. It was about 6 months post stroke that I flew. I got my 2nd 6 month MRI results ,so 1 year next month, back yesterday and got great news as far as how everything looks. Thanks everybody for the support

    7. I also have had to find a new normal. I had my first VAD in march of 2015 and a cerebral artery dissection they think it was from a cough. In Dec 2016 I started feeling horrible again so I went to the ER and my blood pressure was 189/100 and I had pain in my neck like 2015 but the Dr said it was unlikely for it to happen again gave me pain meds and told me I had occipital neuralgia. He sent me on my way no blood work said he was comfortable with vitals. 3 days later is when I think I had the mini stroke the next day I finally got into see my primary Dr and she found another VAD and the one from 2015 never healed. My Arteries were 3 times normal size lots of inflammation. It feels like something is crushing my brain everyday. Weather changes affect me, stress, elevators,driving,humidity, heat,bending forward. They really don’t know why it keeps happening to me or why mine won’t heal. It is frustrating not being the mom you once were for your children. I don’t like I will ever feel normal. I also have Trigeminal neuralgia that is flared up from the inflammation. Hang in there your not alone. Hopefully you have a strong support system to help you. We watch a lot of movies as a family now since I can’t do a lot of the fun things. It is hard and I cry a lot. I hope each day is easier for you.

      1. Jean,
        I see a specialist in NYC, Dr. Jeffrey Olin at Mount Sinai Hospital. He and his team are amazing. You should be checked for FMD, fibermuscular dysplasia. Its common in woman with dissections. I have it. Its beading in the arteries that make them more likely to tear. Renal artery issues can cause spikes in blood pressure. Its not going to kill you but there can be complications like the multiple dissections so thorough follow up is key to prevent major complications. They screen all your arteries from head to pelvis ( by ultrasound and CT scan) to see if/where it is located and then provide all the follow up scans and care. Another great provider is Dr. Gornich ( sp) at the Cleveland clinic. Don’t think that your neurologists / radiologists will automatically catch FMD…. I found mine in a footnote on one of my MRA reports as a “possible cause”, it was never explained to me so I made my own appointment in a FMD clinic and I am VERY glad I did.

  13. Hi Robert and everyone,
    I’m a 53 yr old male from London. Last November (2015) I started having bouts of vertigo, followed by a couple of incidents of double vision. Doctors tested me for ear infection etc, then I started getting headaches. Long story – short, I went in late January 2016 to a private Neurologist who said I should have a MRI, and to his surprise, and mine, he found that I had a Vertebral Artery Dissection. I then had a CT scan and another MRI which showed up a number of very tiny interfractions, which I later found out were tiny strokes.
    The vertigo went by late February and the headaches stopped after taking betablockers.
    I”m just on aspirin everyday now to thin the blood. Had a MRI in June and only just got to see the consultant on 4 October 2016. He told me the artery had not healed but that I’d not had any further strokes.
    However, about a week before I had my appointment with him I had another vertigo incident, only lasting a few seconds, I clicked my neck and it stopped, but enough to think ‘here we go again!’
    The consultant has arranged another MRI for next week.
    I was under the impression that the artery tear would heal itself within 6 months and that would be that. But he said that I would be on aspirin for the rest of my life.
    I’ve not had any lost of feeling anywhere during these experiences, so it came as a shock when he told me I’d been having tiny strokes. Not something you expect to hear at my age.
    Wish everyone the very best.
    London, UK

    1. Rob, I too experienced vertigo and vision change before a stroke. This was two years ago. I was taking a baby aspirin as part of my meds at the time of the stroke. Since the stroke I have been on Plavix. You might want to ask your doctor about taking Plavix. By the way, my pre-stroke symptoms sound similar to yours except that my right side was affected and mostly has recovered except for residual neuropathy-type, chronic post-stroke pain. Wish I could get rid of that (and the fatigue), but otherwise am grateful to have come out of it as well as I did. Am looking forward to the results of planned clinical trial (late 2017) of new pain med, led by two anesthesiologists at Cleveland Clinic, to reduce or eliminate the type of hard-to-reach pain which strokes often leave behind. You will be fine. Just keep bp down, drink plenty of water and stay calm. Brits are known world wide for staying calm!

      1. Hi Mary,
        Thanks for your reply. Not that I want anyone else to suffer, but there is some comfort to know I’m not the only person going through this.
        I’ll take your advise on board and try not to worry too much about it.
        Hope your pain soon goes away for good and you can get back to how you felt before.
        Take care,

      2. Hi Mary,
        Just wondered if you had more information about the trial you’re taking part in. Is there a link with details? I’m interested in the progression of these new drugs. I wonder if you could also let me know how it goes?! Are you on any of the Facebook stroke groups? You can find me under Sara Jane sheikh on Facebook or on my writing blog where my stroke story is: if you’re happy to share. I too am left with chronic nerve pain. It’s mainly sciatic in nature and I’m having a lumbar facet joint injection in a few weeks in case OA is exacerbating/causing it. I did have some intermittent sciatica pre-stroke but my physio suggested that post-stroke neuropathy ‘turns the volume up’ on general pain. I came off Gabapentin and Amitriptyline a while ago as they made me gain weight, so I’m hunting down alternatives! I’m in the UK and am managing currently by stretching, walking, and taking co-codamol when the pain is at its worst. All the best, Sara 🙂 x

        1. Sara, The trials on the new drug are only in the planning stage. I am not in the trial as they have not been set up, but whenever they are, I want to be involved.

          I have little information on NTRX-07, but what I read sounded very promising. Here is the source:

          From what I understand, the project still lacks funding and that is why the contact information given comes out of the Cleveland Clinic Development office. But as the article explains, they have enough funding to get started. The woman in the Development Office who is mentioned in the article is Lauren Maguire, and her email address is If you know of donors who could add to the funding of the project, she’s the one to contact.

          Wish I could tell you more, but that is all I know. It is a project well worth knowing about I think. As the article says, there seem to be no side effects and could benefit millions of people. It is hopeful news for sure!

          1. Mary,
            Sorry to take so long to get back to you!
            Thanks so much for that information about the drug trials.
            I will keep checking in to see what happens; these things just take so long to develop, fund, get off the ground etc. Definitely sounds promising though.
            All the very best to you, S x

  14. Hi all. Apologies if any of this has been addressed but I’m fresh into my second (SECOND😫) arterial dissection and recovery is long and painful. I am a 34 year old white female, thin and fairly active. 5 years ago I had “the worst headache of my life” for three weeks which was misdiagnosed multiple times. I was eventually diagnosed with a left intracranial vertebral artery dissection. It was spontaneous. I healed as expected and did not have a stroke. Fast forward until two weeks ago and I felt that awful familiar pain in my head. This time they knew exactly what to look for. Sure enough, right extracranial internal carotid artery dissection! I am two weeks out, home from the hospital and still in some really awful pain. I have extreme sensitivity to light, Horner’s syndrome, And the pain is just awful. There’s such little information available online but I was looking for some reassurance that this length of pain is normal. The first time around it took roughly 6 weeks before I felt like a human being again. This time I’ll have an extensive work up for auto immune diseases, including FMD. I live in Connecticut and so I am hopeful that some of the teaching hospitals in the area will be able to offer me some answers. I had anxiety after the first one now it’s through the roof! I did not have a stroke with this dissection either I’m terrified of it happening again

    1. Hi Chrstina! I hope by now you are feeling a little more pain relief from your second dissection. I am thin and very active and at 47 had a dissection 7 months ago. I have had my share of anxiety too and have spent many sleepless nights hoping this never happens to me again. I can only imagine how you are feeling. In my case, I had the headaches, neckaches, and funny twinges almost daily for 4 months then they became less and less. Sometimes I can go for a week now without feeling pain then have a headache again and “catastrophize” thinking it will never go away. But sure enough, the next morning I wake up and feel fine. They checked me for autoimmune and connective tissue diseases which came back as negative but it’s good to get that checked out.
      Hope you are healing well now. Don’t get discouraged!

      1. Hello to Everyone! My name is Maggy and I am so glad I found this site! On January 9th I drove myself to the ER with an excruciating head ache. I was discharged with a “stress headache” and given ibuprophen. During the work week I had continued headaches, neck stiffness, and blurry vision in my right eye.
        On the evening of January 15th, I had a stroke. I woke from a nap and was overcome with dizziness. I fell to my knees and vomited for about 16 hours while a friend watched my 3 kids. By Tuesday the vomiting had subsided but I was extremely dizzy and could barely walk. I had a major sensitivity to light as well. That evening I went to the ER where a CT scan was done. I had a VAD that caused the stroke a week later. I was floored upon the diagnosis. I was life flighted to Denver, CO and received treatment. I was home about 10 days later and feel better each day. I am on warfarin, as well as Tylenol and meclizine for pain and dizziness.

        Last Friday, I went into the ER with neck pain and they discovered a tear in the other artery! Ugh! I see the neurologist tomorrow and hope to have answers. Apparently I am the 1% this happens to twice with no known cause.
        I am so grateful for this site and all your positive recovery stories. I am 41, a mother of 3, an avid runner, and a teacher. Taking it easy to recover but so ready to get back out and run again. Thank you all for sharing! It has been such a comfort to know I am not alone in this:)

        1. Hi Maggy, How horrible about your second dissection. I hope you are doing better. You should get checked for Fibromuscular Dysplasia ( FMD). I have it. Its a vascular disorder that can weaken and change your arteries. There is no cure for it but it can be successfully managed by a FMD expert doctor. Google it and find a good FMD specialist that you can travel to. I see Dr. Olin in Mount Sianai New York City. Good luck and I hope you feel better soon!

  15. I had a VAD 2 weeks post Partum in March. Anyone ever have repeat ct scans? I’m Scheduled tomorrow for mine and a little anxious. Also anyone every have the artery enlarge? The doctor told me that it doesn’t usually happen.

    Reading the stories has given me hope to see so many you doing better. Prayers to all!

    1. Did you have head and neck pain? If so how long did it take for that to go away for you. I’m one week out from diagnosis and the pain is still fairly strong. Just wondering how long it lasts for people and when I’m going to be able to be a human being again. I didn’t have a stroke so I figured recovery would be fairly easy. Not so much.

      1. Hi Kristin, those were my main symptoms. Neck pain lasted for about 3 weeks, more so because my neck was so tight because I was afraid to move it. And headache for about 2 weeks. Give it some more time…best wishes for a speedy recovery!

        1. Neck pain… Sometimes it never goes away! Everyone is different! I have found the best help in the Facebook group called Vatebral Artery Dissection Support – check them out – so many answers, opinion and most important… Support!

          1. Thanks Matt! Yes I did find that right away and “liked” it. Hoping I get learn more about this monster soon. There’s not a lot of info on it that helps me much.



      2. Hi. I suffered VAD on Sept 5, 2016, just one month after turning 50 yrs old. I experienced severe neck pain on the left side that traveled up the left side of my face & head. I was transported to one of the best hospitals for strokes, Methodist downtown Houston where I spent 2 days in I.C.U. & 9 days in a room & had a team of doctors working on me. Surgery was too risky, so I’m taking plavix & an asprin daily. I suffered a TIA stroke, so there’s no long term damage. They tell me this is one of the most rare yet most painful strokes to have. The first 3 months following the VAD is very painful. I have pain meds & muscle relaxers to control the pain & I sleep on a heating pad. I have good & bad days. The CT Scan done 6 weeks afyer incident shows no change. I still have the pseudoanerisym in the artery. I still feel pain although I’m on strong pain medication. I’m an accountant for a company & cannot work, so financially, this is stressful. I also have moments that I literally cannot take a breath nor swallow. That lasts 2 to 3 seconds, bit is frightening. They say it’s due to the VAD on left artery. Has anyone else experienced that?

      3. Hello, I just read your comment and was wondering how long the head/neck pain lasted? I’m 6 days post- VAD/TIA and I get sharp pains in my head & dizziness. I also still have the neck pain which scares me (but I’m also afraid to move it too much).

    2. I had VAD followed by stroke 3 years ago. 6 months later I had a follow-up CTA which showed no improvement — it was still completely collapsed with little to no chance of it ever opening back up. Now, 3 years later, I just had another CTA which shows it is fully open and no evidence of any dissection. Yet, I still have an achy pain that has been there since the VAD…and will probably never go away. I limit exercise a little….as to not get my heart rate too high to cause strain to that area….and no bumper cars or roller coasters. Good luck and I wish you a happy, healthy life ahead.

  16. Hi there! My name is Kristin. I was just diagnosed with a VAD of the v3/v4 junction. I was having serious head and neck pain for a week. When it started I went right to my doctors and they diagnosed me with TMJ and put me on prednisone and sent me home. 3 days later the pain was no better. It was probably worse and it was a Sunday so I went to urgent care where they took x-rays and sent me home with muscle relaxers and naproxen. I stopped the prednisone and took the other meds with little relief. Monday and Tuesday I got adjusted by a chiropractor and felt almost instant relief- the pain was not gone but halfed each time I went but some did come back. But then Wednesday it was so bad I drove myself from work straight to our local hospital where they did a CT scan and then ordered another with contrast. They saw an abnormality on my left side so they transported me to the Hospital of the University of Penn’s Neuro ICU. After several tests and and MRA the vertebral artery dissection was confirmed at the V3/V4 junction. They sent me home after one day in the hospital on an aspirin regimen and a follow up MRA in three months. I’m also out of work for the week and can’t lift, bend or carry anything. So I guess my question is , is this normal care? My head is still in a fair amount of pain and quite honestly I am scared of having a stroke. How long were you out of work? They say I didn’t have a stroke which is great but I’m worried I will. I have a connective tissue disorder so they think that with a weird move of my neck might be the cause of my VAD. Does this make me more susceptible to them in the future? Any insight would be helpful. I’m a first grade teacher and it’s a pretty physical job. They said I could go back after a week but I’m a little worried. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristin! My name is Leah. Its been a year since I had a VAD ( same place as yours). No stroke, thankfully. I had a migraine and neck pain on and off for two weeks before I went to the ER. I cracked my neck once and got instant relief as well. I was allowed to go back to work right way but the migraines were so bad I had to go on leave for two months. I would strongly advise you to do that if possible. I took it pretty easy for a full year. The anxiety has been horrible but I can say it does get better. One year out, one dissection has totally healed ( took a full year!), the other is very small and stable and probably wont at this point. I did loads of research and started taking dark chocolate after I read about cardiac patients arteries recovering better on
      ” chocolate therapy”. I eats a small amount of dark chocolate 72 % or higher almost ever day. I contribute the healing to that ( it wasn’t healing at all at 5 month MRA) before i started the chocolate . The doctors say food can’t do that , but whatever, its worth a shot and it helped me. I still have more headaches then I ever have had. My neck still hurts sometimes and I still worry a lot of about this happening again but the pain level, the tiredness,and most of the symptoms have decreased in the last year, so stay strong!! I recently went to see Dr. Jeffery Olin in NYC ( Mount Sinai Hospital ) and was tested for FMD ( its really only in women) and found out I do have it. Its mild though. He scanned every artery in my whole body and talked to me for hours about every question I have ever had about FMD and dissections. Hands down the best doctor ever in terms of patient care and engagement. We have a 1% percent chance of this happening ever again. Pretty positive, I would say!! Best of luck! Leah

      1. Thank you Leah! Right now my primary doctor called me out of work until October 19 which is just about 6 weeks from my diagnosis. I’m sure he’ll allow more of needed. I will also see if we can’t rule out FMD. I’d not heard of that so thanks for mentioning it. It’s good to hear that others have had my issues and have gotten through them. I’m thankful for everyone’s support!

        1. Kristin, Its hard to read FMD in reports because its a rare disease ( esp. if its mild like mine), you should have an expert in the field take a good look. That’s great that you have 6 weeks off! I watched a lot of TV, read books, and sat out on my deck and really just tried to relax so I could heal. You should too. Good luck!

      2. Hi Leah,
        Thanks for your story! I was wondering if your dissection that healed with a scar showed any dilation of the artery? I’m trying to find out more information about that because it seems mine healed that way. It’s been 6 months for me.

        1. Laura- I think mine totally healed. But I read in a blog regarding arteries once ” You can live a perfectly normal life with imperfect arteries”. MY FMD doctor reaffirmed that as well. I think most of us here on this website are proof! I take comfort from that. While mine was in the process of healing it was narrowed and had a pseudo aneurysm at the site.

    1. I’m recovering from a bilateral vertebral artery dissection and I’m starting to have jaw discomfort. Has anyone else experienced this?

  17. I am really glad I found this site, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I am 39 years old. I have had back pain since I was 16, some degenerative issues and my doctor sent me to a pain clinic to get cortisone injections. I had quite a few of them with no problems and no relief. The last injections I received caused my blood pressure to rise and it was high for a couple weeks. My doctor finally put me on blood pressure medication but I had a stroke 4 days later. I had severe pain in my neck that morning that kept getting worse. I finally decided to get in the shower and I started blacking out almost immediately after getting in. I had to have help putting clothes on. Fortunately my oldest son had just went to fire camp and learned some essential medical knowledge. He called 911 and told them I was having a stroke. I would vomit every time I moved my head. I was in and out and don’t remember a whole lot about that day. I was in the hospital for 5 days and could hardly walk. I would fall to the right side of I wasn’t supported. Now a year later I can walk fine although I still have to catch myself sometimes. I still have some memory issues as well. I plan to go back to school for nursing and I will go for my EMT in a month or so. I might have to work twice as hard but I won’t let it stop me. I am disappointed in the health care system here in WV. They never do a follow up so see if my artery has healed. I ended up having a CT scan a few months ago for my headaches and turns out my neck has not healed. I’m on plavix, aspirin and blood pressure medication. I know I will never get injections again so I thought about going to the chiropractor to get some relief but after reading this blog I will not even attempt it. My headache dr wants me to try Botox for the headaches but I’m scared to have another foreign substance injected into my body after what happened. Thank you all for sharing your stories!!

    1. Hi there !
      I had a massive stroke almost 4.5 years ago and I can tell you for 3 of these years have had trigger point injections for pain and Botox. I understand you are nervous about this . I promise you that you will get some relief with the Botox.
      If you really don’t want to please try acupuncture. This too has been a God send to me. This was something new for me after my stroke . Stroke comes with no warning, one minute you are ok and the next minute your life has changed forever.
      I hope that you continue to recover and I hope to hear again from you

    2. Hi all. Last week I had a bilateral VAD with a mild stroke. My doctor gave me little info on the recovery process. How long do people typically stay off of work? I worry about going back too soon. Right now, I do a little walking and get tired and dizzy.

    3. Hello Angela,
      I don’t know what type of headaches you’re having, but I have had the same sort of things happening to me. I have carotid artery dissection, was blacking out and vomiting when I would turn my head a certain way, numbness in my right arm and middle and ring fingers on the right hand, and I have cluster headaches. Also known by the encouraging term, suicide headaches. It is supposedly the worst pain known to humankind. I only ever seem to get those sorts of things!
      I have also had a dramatic decline in my vision in both eyes.
      Could be the whole turning 40 thing!
      The last time I had a life-threatening illness and excruciating pain that was supposedly one of the worst kinds of pain known to our species was an 8 1/2 lb gallbladder that was gangrened on one side and necrotic, (dead and already rotting) on the other. It was the size of a full term baby with rocks sized from golf ball through to what the surgeon called “sludge” which was like aquarium rock suspended in molten lava. The ultrasound they had done on it hadn’t given him a full scope of the size of it and when he went to try to remove it from my belly button using laparoscopic entry, he had to back out. Widen the incision. The first thing I said when I woke up was, “It feels like you pulled a watermelon out my navel!” He said “No, more like a really massive baby!”
      It had ruptured on my tummy on the way out with only the slightest pressure and he told me there was so much acidic bile and infection in it if I had strained too hard while vomiting it could have ruptured. And if it had, there wouldn’t have been anything he could have done to help me. That acid would have damaged me so quickly, I’d have been lost before he could’ve prepped me for surgery. I was 31.
      So, I seem to have this special knack for either being really healthy or going flat out GANGSTER on something hardcore!
      These headaches I get are equally over the top and melodramatic! There were behaviors that I was demonstrating that were actually diagnostic clues as to the type of headache I was having, but I wasn’t able to accurately observe them because I was in so much pain. I was losing my usual hyper self-awareness.
      I paced, held my head, panicked, and would even bang my head on something.
      That sounds totally mental to me, but the pain is so severe, I suppose there is a reflexive urge to distract one’s self from it. I had been put on ever increasing amounts and strengths of heavy narcotics, culminating at the top with continuous release morphine. It held some of the frequency back, but I still had break-through pain. Morphine was never going to be an answer for it long term, anyway. It is, in every way, a drug to die on.
      My neurologist told my GP to take me off of it and give me oxygen.
      I was so distraught. I could not face the possibility of not having any pain relief at all and having to go back to suffering those things every two hours all day and night. I would rub the spot on my head where it hurts until I’d rubbed a bald patch. It is only ever in one single spot, every time. I thought I had a tumor, at first. Apparently, that’s what most people deduce with these headaches.
      I couldn’t sleep. I could go to sleep, but I would wake in debilitating pain after about two hours of sleep and then be up the rest of the night wide awake in pain. If I got a single degree hotter than my internal thermostat allows for, the headache would be on me in a flash. Anything can trigger them. Or nothing.
      Not much rhyme and no reason at all.
      Well, normally, I’d have dismissed the oxygen thing outright and just gone back to my suffering, but I figured they would have to relent and give me my pills back if I was at least attempting to be compliant and it wasn’t working.
      Very much to my surprise, it did work!
      I can’t go anywhere for more than an hour or so unless I take my little portable tank with me, but, that’s better than being permanently homebound and in pain.
      I don’t know if my cardiovascular situation has anything to do with these headaches or not, but I wanted to at least mention the oxygen thing before you have to have to succumb to bovine poison! Has your doctor ever discussed oxygen therapy with you? They had threatened me with botox, and I am petrified of needles and will do anything to talk my way out shots and IV’s. (Maybe at some point, vanity will overtake phobia and I’ll want it) But, I have even absconded from hospitals in a gown with my backside shining like the ivory moon trying to dodge an IV, only to be hunted down and returned by my Mom! .
      Not even as a child, this is since I’ve had babies of my own! I have hidden in cafeterias and once ducked into someone else’s room to hide and just happened to have gone to school with the guy and we sat and chatted until a nurse found me and dragged me back to my room. Also, the thought of nasty cow rot paralyzing some part of my head or face terrifies me. I can’t stand not being able to feel a part of my body. The numbness in my arm and fingers has very nearly driven me insane. I suppose, judging from how all this makes me sound, it would seem like quite a short drive to insane from where I live!
      I am so tired all the time. I have put on about 25 pounds and the constant swoosh, swoosh of my pulse wears me out as well.
      There is a certain way I can turn my head to get it to hush for a while, but I have to be so careful. The first time I quickly moved my head and went sick and blacked out, I honestly thought it was just a reaction to the pain of it.
      At night, if I lie on my right side, the numbness and pulse thing disturbs me.
      But, I can’t turn on my left because that’s the headache side. Also, I cannot stand feeling my heart beating because I swear it skips around and often just stops for a good 10 or 15 seconds at a time and after 20 minutes of that frightening scenario, I just give up.
      I am originally from the US, but I live in England now. I have wanted to live here since I was a little girl. I wanted a well-spoken, well-educated, blue-blood Englishman for a husband, a little blond boy with an Etonian haircut and a cute little British accent, and a grade II, listed character property. (not much, lol!)
      I have all those things, and by all rights, should be blissful beyond belief.
      It is frustrating to be dealing with the ancillary nonsense, but I am still very grateful to the universe. I have always found a way to make seemingly impossible dreams come true. I shape my will to a particular goal or goals, put it out there in the wide cosmos and focus, believe, work hard, and achieve!
      We just get one spin on this rock, I plan to be full spun out before it’s over!
      The one thing my parents gave me aside from unconditional love was a strong belief that I could do anything under the sun that I put my mind to.
      And, strangely, I have always been able to do just that.
      I guess health issues that are outside the margins of my control worry me particularly. And now that I’m 40, my mortality is so much more tangible than it ever has been before. It sounds like the healing prognosis on the carotid dissection is quite promising. I wish everyone here the very best!
      These posts have been educational, informative, inspiring, comforting, reassuring…my adjectives are getting redundant! I will definitely come back to see how everyone is doing, maybe even write another medical drama novella!
      (I think I may be proud of myself a wee bit for surviving these things that sought to take me out! And I am excited and thankful that you all are still here after what you have been through! It’s kinda like winning!! hahah!)
      I hope you get some relief soon, my love!
      Take care everybody!
      All the best!

    4. Hi,. A few weeks before my artetie dissection I had my second dose of steroids in my knee, who knows. Its been 3 month an I still recovering, currently taking comadin and doing nothing, my left side is waking up since I started feeling again warn and cold. But my left leg feels like having bengay on all the time, lime a burn sensation that dont go away. My right eye still a bit smaller than my left and I lost vision on that eye. Hopefully after 6 month and I get my new MRI is all good and could start a normal life.

    5. Please go to the best neurologist available to discuss botox shots. 3 weeks after my VAD, a pain management Dr wanted to give me botox to help with the pain. I also suffer with migraines. Like yourself, I was skeptical. I have a fantastic team of Drs working on me with VAD & since they didn’t offer botox, I passed on the offer. I told 2 of my Drs about it the following week and both immediately were shocked and said absolutely not! They explained the botox needle is about 2 or 2 1/2 inches long. They showed me my CT Scan and how rhe needle could easily hit that artery & would cause death. I have a pseudo anerism as well. I don’t want any of us to have complications after we survived a VAD in which majority don’t survive! Take care & stay blessed

  18. This site is incredibly helpful!

    I’m 31 and I had a chiropractic neck adjustment 2 months ago. Immediately felt dizzy/vertigo and had memory loss. Life was still manageable though. However, a couple weeks ago I mowed the lawn for 45 minutes and suddenly felt very flush.

    I had two MRIs, neither of which showed any stroke signs. However, I’m convinced I have VAD since this happened IMMEDIATELY after the adjustment. And now since mowing the lawn, I have the following symptoms:

    -Off balance to the left
    -Head pressure
    -Muscle weakness in both arms and legs which worsens every day (very concerning. anyone else ever experience this???)
    -Memory loss

    I’m on Nattokinasse (blood thinner), but I’m not improving. In fact, my symptoms seem to worsen every day. Anyone else experience this? I wish things would just level out first, and then begin to heal. I’m afraid I’m going to lose all function and feeling in my limbs. Any encouragement would be very appreciated. Thanks!

    1. You should do an MRA (or CTA) to check for a dissection. At a minimum, it could rule it out.

      Personally, it sounds like a vertebral dissection of some sort. Dissections get worse when we lack water so mowing the lawn for 45 minutes could have narrowed the artery causing less blood flow to your brain.

      You should also consider joining the facebook group: “Vertebral Artery Dissection Support”. People are very quick to answer questions and there are very useful discussions there. You may learn a lot!

    2. Yeas I had those symptoms when I first suffer the stroke. Both of my arms and legs felt asleep, vertigo, vomiting and neck pain. I was lucky to go to a hospital were the had a stroke unit and the Doctor in charge of that unit was working in the emergency room that day and in less than two hours they new what happen to me. I spent two weeks at the hospital with vertigo and vad vision in one eye. The firs four to five days I suffer an incredible headache. If I was you, do an MRI or CT, they did both studies on me but the MRI show more. Also do a heart and lung MRI, you never know. My Mom suffer a pulmonary embolism and had same symptoms. Also you could have a pinch nerve..Go to a different doctor

  19. I am a 41 year old, healthy, active father and I recently had a cerebellum stroke due to a vertebral artery dissection. It was in January and I had just gotten home with my daughter who said she was sick and needed to be brought home from school. We were only in the house for 15 minutes when I slipped trying to put on my shoes and my whole world started spinning. I bounced off the walls as I made my way to the bedroom to lie down, which brought to comfort to the spinning. I quickly made it to my bathroom and vomited constantly. I felt like I was going to fall off of the floor, so I just laid down and held on. After a few minutes I found that if I just laid on my right side and didn’t move, I was ok. If I moved an inch I would get violently sick and dizzy.
    My first instinct was that I had vertigo and it would just go away. Luckily my daughter, who is 9, was home and she called my wife. I convinced my wife to not call 911 (this was a mistake) because I thought it would go away. I took some motion sickness pills and they didn’t help. After 12 hours of laying on the bathroom floor unable to move, I agreed that I had enough and was ready to go the emergency room. They initially treated me for vertigo and left me in the triage area for a couple of hours. When I didn’t get any better I was sent for a MRI and CT scan, where the stroke and dissection were found. I spent 5 days in the hospital just being watched because the artery that dissected isn’t able to be worked on. After a couple of days I was able to move off of my right side and everything slowly returned to normal. It has almost been 3 months since my stroke and after physical therapy, I am almost back to 100%.
    My question is what are my chances of this reoccurring? My doctor thinks it was my artery bumping against the hole in my skull that it goes through causing the dissection. I have read all the stories above and recovery times vary. I am worried about returning to work and the stress my job entails, in turn spiking my blood pressure, and cause a relapse. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Mark,

      Your experience sounds similar to mine (I wrote the original blog posts about my VAD and stroke here). It does seem like you’re on the mend, which is great. And, feeling afraid of a recurrence must be normal—I know it loomed large for me initially. I still have a bit of fear about another VAD/stroke from time to time, but it no longer dominates my thoughts.

      If you’re controlling your blood pressure and taking it relatively easy for a while to confirm your vertebral artery has recanalized. If there were no genetic factors in causing your VAD, your other risk factors are controlled (hypertension, smoking, etc.), and you’re not subjecting your neck/arteries to trauma, then you’ll likely not experience a recurrence. However, everyone is a unique snowflake, so it’s not a guarantee.

      It has been 4 1/2 years since my VAD and stroke. I try to be as active as I was before the stroke. When I’m riding my bike and pushing myself in a workout, I get my heart rate up into the 170s without any issues. So, if you want to stay active, my bet is that you can. Working with your physician(s), especially your neurologist, will help you figure out when you can resume more strenuous activities.

      Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. I hope your recovery continues!


      1. First, thank you for sharing your experiences in an open forum where others can learn and help understand VAD; it is greatly appreciated.
        My Sister is 38, plays tennis every day, and is a picture of health; she had a dual VAD 6 days ago. She had partial paralysis immediately afterwards and due to her excellence health, was walking around the hospital until yesterday, it seems she had an episode that caused permanent paralysis for about 1 hour. Within 8 hours, she was able to move all her limbs and hobble to the bathroom with assistance. Because she was in such good shape, she wants to get up and walk but I fear she is pushing it too much and risks another clot or aggravating or re-injuring the tear; the doctor said most people don’t survive a double VAD so I am fearful she is not taking it easy enough.
        As a big Brother, I have to be careful not to overstep my boundaries so I thought I would ask the question to this group of people with first hand experience.
        I think she should try to keep her neck as static as possible to give those arteries time to heal properly. Since I am not a doctor I am hesitant to say anything unless I have some type of factual data to back me up; her doctor told her no neck manipulation but has fallen short of neck immobilization.
        Because of her active lifestyle, she inadvertently does things out of habit that I feel can harm her long term. Texting in her hospital bed with her head looking straight down. Bending down to pick up something she dropped out of her hospital bed and other small habits she has that I feel might re-injure her.
        Am I being paranoid or is there a real danger here? If you guys could give me a glance into your recovery and PT I would greatly appreciate it. I wish you a speedy recovery and thank you again for taking the time to edify others.

      2. I can’t wait to get out on the playing field again. My wife graciously acknowledges my whims but strictly holds me back from maybe hurting myself.

      1. Hi, I was off of work for 3 months and I am on limited activity for a year. I am fully functional and have no problems with anything I do but to play it safe, my doctor asked that I do not play any sports for a full year. It took about 2 1/2 months for me to fully regain mobility. also I have had to schedule an MRI every 6 months to make sure my artery is healing properly.

  20. I has a VAD followed by a stroke…its been a year now and a half now. I was short sighted before and it seems to have gotten worse, as I sometimes get blurry vision. My neurologist thinks it has more to do with my eyesight and so planning to see an ophthalmologist. I have a 2.5 year old son and would really want to have another/others, anyone with an experience of pregnancy after a VAD followed by stroke??

    1. Carol,
      There are neurologists who specialize in eyesight- they can be hard to find – the one I saw was at New York Presbyterian. They go way beyond what an opthamalogist would do – may be worthwhile seeking that out…

    2. I was 12 wks postpartum when I had my VAD and 5 strokes of the cerebellum. It has been a very long road, but I am going to bed tonight for the first time in nearly two years without pain. I credit that to excellent physical and vestibular therapy. It look 16 months for my VAD to heal, but it has. I was cleared by neurologist and high risk pregnancy physicians to have another child if desired. Their recommendations were close monitoring and daily Levonox injections throughout the pregnancy and for 90 days postpartum. I have decided against further pregnancies, but have two beautiful daughters to enjoy. Best of luck to you.

  21. Hi, I’m a 36 year old woman and mother of four young kids and I have two dissected arteries, Right carotid and Left Vertebral . Both are inside my brain. I never had a stroke but had head and neck pain and sinus pressure one the left side of my face and arm and leg tingling and numbness. I went to the hospital after 11 days of this- the symptoms were mostly mild and would come and go- I thought I had pulled a neck muscle in spin class. The NP at the ER diagnosed me right away with the VAD! Thank God for him too, he possibly saved my life. (During those 11 days I was working out at crossfit, camping outside with my family, jumping on the trampoline, and playing in the swimming pool- its amazing that I am not dead.) I got the diagnosis and returned home paranoid as all heck to even turn my neck. I have never felt such utter terror- sheer sweat drenching terror- that I was going to do something to make it worse. Every twinge created panic. Those first few weeks I would lie awake at night feeling every particle in my body and head, terrified I would not wake up- or even worse perhaps, wake up as a diminished shell of my old self due to stroke. Eventually I stopped fixating on it and started feeling better. Four months out I go to see a Hopkins specialist and they do a repeat MRA. The radiologist sees the right carotid was dissected and missed on the two previous MRAs. Note: make sure you have a radiologist that knows what they are doing. At four months- no healing has taken place on either dissection. I’m bummed to put it lightly. I still have symptoms that randomly come and go. Neck pain/ headaches tingling and numbness on my face. The Hopkins neurologists says this isn’t from the dissection, but I know it is,never had it before the dissections. I’m working on being positive, eating and sleeping well. My question is did anyone have dissections inside their head that healed? It seems that the arteries on the inside are more fragile and I’m wondering if that’s why they aren’t healing? Thank you all- I’ve read and re-read yours posts about a dozen times!

    1. My wife has been in hospital for 15 days with 2 corotid artery dissection from just a sudden fall. Hopefully I can learn a few things from here

      1. Bobby, welcome and sorry to hear the news about your wife. I’m recovering from a vertebral artery dissection from August of last year. I did not stroke but it’s always touch and go. Following my near fatal rollover I spent a lot of time researching this condition. To date the artery remains occluded and unlikely to ever function. Fortunately the two vertebrals feed into a manifold called the circle of Willis which though now only receives blood from one side it still fills an distribution to both sides of the hind brain received at least a sufficient amount of blood. Your wife’s carotid is a much larger concern as it is a much larger and necessary source of blood. I’m assuming that along with blood thinners the Neurovascular doc plans to address this through more invasive means. Specific medical info along with emotionally supportive details are the purpose of this site and would be interested in trying to help if you could provide a current status and prognosis as is available to date. For you to be strong for the kids is important but you need support and positive energy along the way to sustain your own well being at this time. Please let me know any relative info and I will, and others here can better help to that end. For now, as you look for signs of hope, be vigilant to the data from the doc and keep close to whatever support bases you can. We are all here for this reason. Refuah Shlemah (complete healing prayer) for your wife.- Brandon

      2. Hi Bob, Such a scary time for you both. I remember those early days just dragging on.Did your wife have a stroke? I imagine she did if she’s still in the hospital. All the journals that I have read state that if you survive the initial event and are young and healthy, ” 90% of people have an excellent prognosis for recovery”.

    2. Leah, you have such a pleasant and invigorating approach. You commented on a post of mine from Feb 10 or so. I wanted to thank you for recognizing what I was trying to convey. I remember my first several posts here. Not atypical! We all want answers and we would like them as soon as possible, if you don’t mind… I’ve been there! So I can make fun of those of us who have spent way too many hours researching and self/web prognostications. I felt inclined to share something that struck me as I read your posts. First, I understand that there are few medical conditions that demand imminent attention more than stroke or dissected arteries/occlusion. The rate and rapidity that rarely precedes these is much of what causes our dramatic reactions. And who wouldn’t? But beyond the first 48, and into the third, fourth and fifth months, morbity greatly diminishes. The tough stuff out of the way, what if we learned from our experience the obvious, redundant and trite life lessons that our predecessors tried to convey to us? The true meaning of life… The existential. To maintain brevity I conclude, in summary, instead of worrying about the granite stone and what it should read, we set out to, as best we could, carve our living into the hearts and minds of our loved ones, friends and heck, the world!! I hope this doesn’t seem inconsistent with my sincere empathy for my partners here. I should have died. No one survives “that crash”. But I did. And to the end I battle with the aftermath but G-d only knows how much my wife and boys have benefited from my desire to pass it on and give them every tool I cannot take with me to the dust, whether it be tomorrow or 30 more years. The quiescence stands firmly in the way of love. Love is trans-generational unless it gets trapped in a pine box having never shared.

      1. Brandon, Do you write? Your message are always elegant so I wonder if you write as a profession or pastime? I am a professional researcher- something that has definitely NOT been healthy for my sanity the last few months! I have self diagnosed myself with everything under the sun. I find I alternate from freaking myself out to to searching for articles and books to calm my panic and soothe my soul. The logical thing to do is stop looking for answers and statistics and just try to lighten up. You are right, if you survive- and everyone here did- chances are excellent that you will be just fine !

    3. hello, I am so glad to have found this site. I had bilateral vertebral artery dissections in 2008 and have never been the same since. Even after followup scans showed they healed in 2009, I have horrible neck pain from being afraid to move my neck, and it has gotten worse in the past two years after an MVA in May 2014. My neck pain is to the point where it hurts to walk, chew, etc. and daily migraines and can’t look from side to side. I miss my active lifestyle so much. And as you all know after having this happen to you, you fear the worst- brain tumor, recurrence of dissection, etc etc. I just got done with an ENT work up because my new primary thought my pain is from my sinuses. Today I have an appointment for psychical therapy because my Dr’s think my pain is from not having a good range of motion. But what if in 2014 during the accident the arteries tore again and just havent healed? I am just so frusterated with all of this and don’t know where to go. I don’t have a neurologist that takes me seriously either, they think depression/anxiety is causing all my issues. Of course I feel depressed, this has taken over my life. If anyone has ideas on how to find proper care and reassurance after this sort of thing. please let know. Most people don’t even know what VAD is .

      1. I didn’t even know a site like this existed! I just had a second dissection. My first was in 2013 a left vertebral artery with a stroke caused by a chiropractor and I just had left spontaneous carotid artery dissection in January, thank good no stoke this time, but, they can’t tell me why it happened. I’m a RN and I work on the unit and am horrified to work in fear that I may cause something to make it happen again. I am on a 20 pound weigh restriction and do you know how hard that is to actually adhere to in everyday life especially working as a floor nurse with sick patients? But on top of the dissection they are telling me that there is a 3mm psedoanyersm. They are sending me to every which doctor now but no answers so far. I have chronic pain, headaches all on the left side of my head, fatigue, foggy headed, numbness tingling in my hands and toes, I repeat myself, diagnosed with narcolepsy after my first dissection and stroke and now it all flared up and intensified. Neurologigist had NO answers for me today, do t have a reacan until April to see if the artery I’d healed and the clot and anysem is going away to see if they want to do any intervention or not. They are sending me to a rheumatologist to work me up for possible connective tissue dissorers?!? Has anyone ever had a third or fourth dissection ?? This is what I really fear?? Can this just keep happening????

      2. Hi Ruby- For your own piece of mind, find a neurologist that will listen to you and rescan with an MRA so you can rule out dissections from the 2014 accident. That alone will make you feel relieved- it would for me. I suffer from severe face pain that is partially caused by the dissection and partially from me being so tense all the time after this has happened. My teeth are inadvertently clenched ALL THE TIME. It took me a long time to figure this out though. I got on muscle relaxers and consciously unclench my teeth and the face/neck pain has gotten better. So my problem was a combination of a real problem being made way worse by something I was doing inadvertently. The more I focused on the pain the worse I felt, the bigger the problem became. I am in no way discounting your pain or your situation but if you can get on some muscles relaxers that may help you. I am praying for you that this resolves. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel.

        1. Leah, Thanks for mentioning muscle relaxer for facial pain. You have confirmed what I had been thinking, so I will ask my doctor for mild muscle relaxer.

          I noticed that at night while in bed, and upon waking up, I have very little facial pain so a muscle relaxer during the day might help. Would like some suggestions for dealing with muscle pain and acute hand numbness (and extreme coldness) on my right side. Sometimes I feel as though I have been wrapped in ropes that tighten themselves often around my upper right arm. My fingers feel as though I am wearing stiff leather gloves. It has been 1 year 4 months since the stroke and my post stroke pain is hanging in there like a pest. I will appreciate suggestions of what others are doing to make the pain easier to live with since it has become my constant companion. Someone who works in stroke rehab has written that people who have had strokes have to work twice as hard as people who have not had one, and I believe it. Whether washing dishes or making a meal, it is twice as much effort. Would love to hear from others what lightens the load and relieves the pain. By the way, I am still making progress and believe that eventually I will be my old self, but it is a solitary road with few “experts”. That is why hearing from others is so uplifting and helpful to me.

      3. Hello Ruby, I am Robbin 60 years just hadVAD which happened at work just while sitting giving report to fellow nusrses! I am experiencing headaches and am very cautious about turning my head and the neck is sore feels tight and yes I too feel very anxious at times which gets me depressed as it is not my basic makeup! I used to take care of everyone , go everywhere so to let you know apparently that we are not alone and I do believe there are still mysteries of medicine and on behalf of all of us who share these oddities of s/p VAD maybe they will put all of our side effects , neurocies whatever one wishes to label it ! And possibly gather some conclusive evidence , that these are things that go along with certain particulars involving some dissections , as mine was referred to as “Spontaneous dissection” ! And I also pray and give thanks to God everyday !! I am going to Doctors today … Let’s see what questions can be answered! Today we can smile at the sun!

    4. Leah,
      I had spontaneous bilateral vertebral artery dissections with dissecting aneurysm that did extend up into the base of my brain. This was 19 years ago! And yes, they can heal. I still have scar tissue in the arteries which is visible on subsequent imaging and I have some pain still but it’s manageable. My right side had the aneurysm and that’s the area that gives me the most pain still….whenever I’m very tired, sick or very stressed it hurts the most. I hope you heal soon and completely! Take care and don’t give up hope. I was 34 when this happened and I’m now 53 and have raised my two daughters and now have 2 grandchildren and one on the way 🙂 Stay strong!

      1. Diana, Thank you so much for your kind words of hope and strength! It brought a tear to my eye actually. I’m doing better. Have a small bit of healing on my carotid ( it took 8 months for that!) but no healing on my VAD but I’m just taking it day by day and trying to not hyper- focus on this so much. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to reach out to me, it really meant a lot and made me feel better. Leah

  22. Hi all,
    A lot of time has passed since I post my message . In my last visit with the neurologist, she told me that my two arteries were totally healed. Now I am having just an aspirin for six months and that’s it. I am practicing all kind of sports. The doctors told me to do just what I was doing before the dissections.
    Recurrence in dissections is very rare so I am living my life like this wouldn’t have happen. I will remember all my life this experience, my fears, my family absolutely worried at hospital but as time passes this memories are very far from me.
    I wish a lot of luck to all of you that are in the healing process and think positive, you will be healed in months.
    Kind regards

    1. Thank you. Joe. for the encouraging update and to know that you have made it back to health and an active life!

      God Bless you and your family.


      1. Thanks Mary, we all know how important is our family in this process. Unfortunately all of us have seen the suffering in our families. So we have to give them back as a present our recovery

    2. Thank you I had a VAD a week ago and I am scared but will get better. I am scared it will happen again but I believe in God and positive thinking, Love Heather

      1. Heather, it is normal to be scared. I was too when I first had a stroke 18 months ago. Not so much any more. At this point I am working on dealing with residual effects of the stroke and am going to be assessed soon by a team specializing in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). I have a feeling that concentrating on strengthening certain muscles which were weakened by the stroke is going to be the key to getting rid of what chronic pain symptoms I have. I am over 75 and I think no-pain recovery is taking longer than as if I were 40 or 50 years younger. If it would interest anyone, I can report back what I am told at a clinic where I will be evaluated for CRPS. There is an excellent explanation at this link

      2. Hi everyone I am Sharon I had a VAD also a mild stroke on the 21st March was in the hospital for 6 days I am so scared I will not get better ,I work in a nursing home the work is very heavy and hard I an scared I will not be able to provide for my 9 year old son ,my neurologist told me I can lift more than 10 lbs so
        No work for me ,does anyone know how long this takes to heal

      3. Its been 3 month for me, I guess you never stop thinking that it will happen again. I am hopping that at six month the arterie heal so I could relax and get back to my life.

  23. I was on the squash court and started losing my vision about an hour after playing. I went into hospital and a CT with contrast revealed I had the VAD. I am male 35 years old. It was suggested that an odd neck movement could have been the cause since I am generally healthy and fit. I was told to avoid any abrupt neck movements or massage/chiro for at least 3 months while remaining on blood thinners.

    I was told I could resume exercise normally, but no roller coaster type activities to keep my neck from being tossed around. Please share with me your doctor recommended recovery time. Thanks!

    1. I am a 33-yr old female that had spontaneous VAD followed by a stroke 3 years ago….reason unknown. A vascular neurologist mentioned at that time that there was little to no chance of my right vertebral artery opening back up. Upon a CTA scan a few days ago, I found out my VAD has completely healed. I look forward to my dr appt with the neurologist coming up. I will continue to live with a few restrictions that include no bumper cars, roller coasters, and any quick neck manipulations (some sports that require lots of neck turning).

  24. I also had a vertebral artery dissection. On April 28, I was hiking and ended up calling 911 when I suddenly lost my walking skills and started feeling pain in my jaw. Speed forward I have had numerous doctors appointments and it now looks as if the artery has healed itself. I was taken off of warfarin and now take aspirin each day. Now what? Can I return to a normal routine with the exception of neck jarring activities? I want to start running again and working out without the thoughts of what if…I feel great and have seen the scans and the doctors have said I can return to a normal routine, however they haven’t suffered this trauma so I’m a bit of a skeptic. Any thoughts or suggestions from anyone that has been through this?

    1. Rich… the first thing to do is to realize how lucky you are… if you read some of the stories on the site, you will realize that many others are not so fortunate. I am glad to say that I was one of the fortunate as well… and for two years after my stroke I stopped working out and literally didn’t move my neck. I would turn my whole body. I stopped running and swimming out of fear that the physical activity would create some sort of re-lapse… the fact of the matter is… you’re healed.

      You’re healed… I was told that many times by many people but it so hard to believe someone who didn’t go through what you went through. Six years after my episode I look back and am upset that I didn’t move my neck for two years (that created other problems)… that I didn’t start working out again, swimming, tri’s, etc.

      I am not a doctor, but from everything I’ve been told and experienced… your dissection is healed… get back to life. It is incredibly hard because a VAD is so scary. I know… but, really, get back to it… you will be ok. You may, like many others, experience weird things our brains healing have done to us, weird sensations, numb cheeks, hot hands or feet… but it passes, and its not another stroke.
      Best of luck,

        1. So none of you remember my story. It was eight months ago and I lacked brevity in the telling of it. But I get these updates and I read them. Briefly, I didn’t stroke, may HIS name be blessed, but I lost the left vertebral artery in a rollover. I have fought little battles v. The horrendous wars that have beleaguered most of you. Though commonality is crevaced I just wanted to weigh in by saying that to all of you, as mentioned, consider yourself blessed or lucky if you are Irish but either way consider yourself. Consider the future of yourself. Are you thankful? For what and to whom? And in that consideration are you willing to take what you have and inspire those who are not so inspired… This can be the opportunity to make your generations proud. Survivors preclude surviving. Not so trite is the “pass it on” mentality. But to pass it on means that you first, must endure. Our being on this earth depends on those who went before us and endured hardship in many facets. Peace and life to all of you and may your name be for a blessing in due time. A blessing to those who come after. It was well said that those who overcome become the lit path to them that search for hope. Thank you for the stories of inspiration that many of you have shared. To those who are still struggling, find peace in those who have struggled before you and overcome. G-d bless you all!!

          1. Beautifully written sentiments, thank you. I must say that everyday I wake up and just feel so thankful and blessed that I can hold my children one more time and spend one more day on this planet. This experience has been on of the hardest and best thing I have ever endured. While my life is far from perfect still, this has given me new clarity, deeper gratitude, and helped me to resolve some unresolved issues. I have written a will, thought ahead and said many prayers. Things I never ever would have done. Most importantly, the people that I love the most know it and I know their love for me and in the end there is no greater power.

    2. This site is so helpful, I am glad I found it! My dad has suffered from a VAD three weeks ago and is slowly feeling better. He is still suffering from headaches and needs a lot of sleep, but reading through previous comment, that seems to be “normal”. My dad lives abroad and we have planned for him to fly to us very soon. It is only a two hour flight and doctors have said that it is ok for him to fly, but I am feeling uncomfortable with the thought of him being in the air,. He is due to fly in 10 days which would make it just over a month post VAD. Does anyone have any advise please? Bettina

      1. This site is so helpful, I’m 31 and laid in hospital after VAD last week. At this point no one can really tell me anything aside from the artery is responding to drugs but still has a really fast flow which is not so good.

        Any advice anyone who’s been here can offer would be great. I am an ordinarily fit and healthy 31 year old mum of one. It’s quite distressing having the Unknown to wake up to every day.

        Many thanks

        1. Lynsey, You wrote ” It’s quite distressing having the Unknown to wake up to every day.” Welcome to the Club! I’ll wager that everyone who has a VAD episode says the same thing.

          Over a year ago (Oct 2014) I experienced a VAD and I am 77years old. I think your return to normal will be faster than mine because of your age, but the brain fog I had is gone and much of the muscle weakness is also gone. You will get through this so concentrate on eliminating the risk factors and looking forward to returning to your regular routine. You will know more about your condition as time goes by. We all complain about not being given much information from health professionals but maybe in your recovery process you will run across a good neurologist who will dispel some of the mystery. Check in often and let me know how you are progressing. Remember, you have a remarkable ability to bounce back from this: You are young and healthy, and your body is capable of finding new paths and repair damaged ones. On my last visit to the neurologist she told me that the artery was healed and showed me on the MRI where a new blood path had been created. It takes time, Lynsey, so give your body time to recover…and don’t worry. If I at 77 can get over this, so can you!

  25. Okay, I’m from the UK. I’m a 47 year old female who suffered a left-sided V.A.D on 8th October 2015, so I’m just shy of one month along the track with this little box of horrors. But the whole thing actually started for me about mid-August when I got neck-ache at the base of my skull. The headaches kicked in next and kind of settled above my left eyebrow, the neck-ache moved around the left, sort of around my ‘gland’ area below my ear. Numerous visits to my GP got me nowhere near the right diagnosis. This is what has come to frustrate me, now – how very little is known about V.A.D, how unheard-of it appears to be amongst clinicians. I would say that, despite it being a fairly rare condition, this fact needs to change! If it was recognised sooner, we all wouldn’t all end up having strokes!!

    One month before suffering two ‘small brain-stem infarctions’, I ended up in A&E at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham for the 1st time. I went with continuing neck and head pain plus debilitating vertigo. From all I’ve read of other people’s experiences now, I see that our symptoms are all so similar, (our misdiagnoses too). It really is about time doctors started to recognise this. I was sent home from A&E with anti-sickness tablets and a vague diagnosis of “Chronic head-ache & positional dizziness.” Other GP visits diagnosed: Vertigo, Labyrinthitis, Migraine and finally neuralgia. The physiotherapist I’d started seeing thought it was a trapped nerve in my C spine due to my hyper-mobility and poor posture. (I have a history of Scoliosis and have a rod in my spine since the age of 15.)
    I ended up on amitryptyline and codeine for nerve pain before I woke up at 4 a.m. on 8th October with a numb right side and swallowing problems. I choked on some water and couldn’t cough. After lots more GP confusion I ended up in hospital but, to cut a very long story short, it was about 2 days before I was put on Aspirin, 2 days before the neurologists actually pinned down the ‘most likely’ cause from my MRI. (‘Raggedy’ left vertebral artery – probable dissection).

    I was home after 5 days and am told that the arterial tear will take 3-6 months to spontaneously repair. Like everyone else, I don’t really know how long it will take for ‘me’ to recover, however. I’m scared of a recurrence, am hardly moving my neck (but, at this stage, I have been told to rest), I’m really tired (anyone else have this????!!!), I get ‘ice-cream head’ in the evenings, cannot feel pain or temperature on my right side – though I’ve been getting weird heat sensations which I guess are false. (My Consultant said that I will get a lot of odd sensations throughout recovery). Much of my head is numb, presumably because I also suffered cranial nerve damage on the left (so I have a drooping left eye and a smaller pupil – Horner’s Syndrome).

    One thing I haven’t read on anyone else’s posts is a mysterious ‘lack of headaches.’ My headaches, which were excruciating at times, have gone since the stroke; though I still get a muted version of the weird neck sensations I’ve had all along, which I instinctively knew was at the root of all my problems from the start but which were mainly ignored. I think my head-aches are now buried in the numbness. Was else anyone told that? Anyway, this is getting very long. I know I’m lucky to have survived, I know I’m luckier than many. But I’m also a little angry about this whole thing; that it was allowed to happen at all. I’ve been trying to get an article into my local paper, so far to no avail, just to raise awareness. I’m sure websites like this must help; so thanks for creating it 🙂

    One final thing to note was that they found no real cause for my V.A.D but, from all I’ve read since coming home, I would put it down to my over-stretching my neck during yoga (I’m very bendy) plus doing a lot of ceiling painting. (I’ve read several times that this is one of the worst positions for one’s neck.)

    Good luck everyone 🙂

    1. Hi Sara,

      I may be across the pond from you but I share your angst that the medical profession is so uninformed about stroke. I had symptoms 2 months prior to the stroke (October, 2014) which, if I had recognized what was afoot and had a doctor who could have recognized my symtoms as trouble, I could have avoided the whole thing. I was having vision changes and nearly passed out during one 3-day period weeks prior to the stroke.

      A year later I am still here and carrying on and getting better all the time. So many nights I would struggle to get into bed and figure I probably would not wake up in the morning. At first every odd ache and pain seemed as though it was a signal that the end was near. At first, at the stage you are now, I slept all through the day and all through the night. Now I don’t need a nap and my energy is about 80% returned. It happens gradually. Give it time. Your health will “sneak back” while you aren’t looking. Suddenly in a few months you will notice climbing stairs is easier, that you don’t need as many naps, that odd pains are less or have disappeared. My right side is still odd man out, but I have found a good neurologist who is addressing those sensations and eventually they will be gone. Don’t despair. Your body is repairing itself. Do what you can to help it. Drink lots of water, walk as much as you can. breathe deeply. You will recover but not on your schedule – it will be on your body’s schedule.

      1. Hi Mary,

        If you don’t my asking, what happened to your right side? The reason I ask is because my right side has been greatly affected by my VAD. I have strong tingling sensations and have not found a way to make them better except for taking gapapentin to numb the tingling.


        1. Ksenia,

          I am taking Gabapentin, too, and for the same reason. After the VAD my right side was affected, especially right side of mouth, shoulder , arm, and foot, hand. I went for physical therapy this summer for 3 months and it made the numbness in fingers worse as well as the sensations around my mouth of the muscles being pulled to the side. I take 100 mg morning and 100 mg at night of Gabapentin and it helps to quiet down the sensations. I am getting my energy back and am walking more. I can see that in another year or two there will be even much more improvement to the point where I won’t have any symptoms. When I first had the event , I slept almost all the time, day and night and my brain seemed fogged. All that is gone now. My event was a little over a year ago.

      2. Hi Mary,

        Thanks so much for your encouraging words. I know I’m in the early stages of recovery and need to be patient; (have no choice really!) I’m not the most patient patient, but i’m trying 🙂

        Your story is very encouraging. Whilst I’m trying to be as positive as I can, I do worry about the ‘right-sided’ issues (especially being right-handed.) I fear that, because this is due to stroke/brain damage, it’s less likely to be recovered than if it were from local nerve damage, but this is just my gut feeling. Hopefully I’ll come back here at a later date and tell you I was very wrong.

        I hope that you continue to improve too and completely recover the odd man out. I was reading up on neuroplasticity today; presume you will have heard of it? It’s when a different part of the brain steps in to take control of the damaged areas, allowing them to re-function. I suppose that’s how we all recover from nerve damage, but I think you need to make your body realise it’s dysfunctioning in the first place (from what I’ve read). I guess the brain might not care that your leg is numb, from an operational point of view! I want to read up more on this and be pro-active once the VAD is healed. As you say though, for now, I need to rest and recover, slowly but surely.

        All the very best to you,

        Sara 🙂

        1. Sara, Visualize often your “old self” so that your brain does care whether your leg is numb or not. It is the same kind of exercise that improves basketball players’ skill at shooting baskets even when they aren’t on the court. If you haven’t read it, I recommend “Pscho Cybernetics” which tells us how to use our remarkable brains for setting a goal and how the brain helps to achieve that goal. What you mentioned is the “re-wiring” of the system that researchers are discovering.

          Given that information of how the brain works as a computer, we can program, through visualizing, that our hands and feet are warm, no numbness or pain in specific parts, taste buds work, bladder behaves, fingers can perform flawlessly, no tightness in shoulder, in short, picture you”normal” in every way. If we don’t tell the remarkable brain what we want from it, I doubt we will get full recovery. I have used psycho-cybernetics so many times to achieve other goals that there is no reason to believe that it would fail in this assignment. If you have never done it before, the thing that may be hard is trusting what the author calls the servo-mechanism. That is the prompting that the brain will give you in order to achieve your goal. Pay attention to those prompts; it means the brain is working on the problem and is handing you solutions. Let me know your progress. BTW I am right-handed too!

    2. Sara,

      Hang in there, it gets much better with time! I had a month of neck and head pain which went away right when my stroke happened. I also find this interesting but definitely feel fortunate that I don’t have daily headaches anymore like a lot of people do.

      Have you joined the Facebook group for VAD support? There are a lot of people in the group and it’s very active. People with all sorts of stories, symptoms, side effects, advice, home remedies, etc. It’s a good place to get some insight on this issue.


      1. Ksenia,

        My VAD was on the left. AUG was my year mark. I still have head and neck pain but it’s manageable. I take Topiramate and without it I could not have returned to my normal activities. I am active duty military and also was turned away when I went for medical treatment. My left leg, hand,eye and part of my lip is a little numb. The new doc thinks it will stay that way. Cognitive and memory can be a battle when you know it’s something you can and have done before you were hurt. I completed an 8 mile road March the other day. I could not imagin in January I would be able to walk straight much less carry weight up hill. Returning to runinng has not been easy and I cannot do it for a long time but I can walk very fast. 5.2 mph. Somethings are similar and some are different but just stay positive and stay active. Walking is great!

      2. Ksenia,

        (What a lovely name you have, by the way!)

        Thanks for your words too. It’s so strange to talk to people who share the very same experience. Ten/twenty years ago this wouldn’t be possible, would it?! It sounds like you have made a remarkable recovery. Funny how this happens so often to fit and healthy people.

        I have attempted to join the facebook VAD support group, yes. Thing is, all you can do is request to be a member. There is no opportunity to explain why or express your circumstances. It’s a closed group; perhaps it was ‘open’ when you joined? Anyway, my ‘application’ is still ‘pending’ with them – so not sure if I’m ‘in’ yet or not. 🙂

        Weird about the headaches and, yes, I am so grateful for not having them right now. I have another ‘gut feeling’ that this won’t be the end of them, however. My consultant said that the headaches were usually the thing to persist the longest. With me, I really feel that the numbness is masking them because I sometimes I feel a different kind of sensation, like a pressure, in the places where they were. It’s like a double-edged sword though; whilst I want to numbness to go away, I don’t want the headaches back!!

        Looks like it could be one or the other…

        Anyway, thanks so much for commenting. Keep running and keep getting better! All the very best to you,

        Sara 🙂

      3. I can’t find the FB site. I had VAD and aneurysm July 4, 2015 as well as PICA infarct. I’m having issues with spinning I’m a little worried I will never stop spinning . I’m 35 and a single mother of 5 I’m on my own so I’m trying to get better as quickly as possible . Any advice helps

        Thanks Dezi

    3. Hello
      My 24 years old sun also suffered from a VAD 3 weeks ago. The diagnosis of a VAD was only made after 15 days in hospital (!) as the doctors originaly though of a rare syndrom called “Guillain Barré” (which has some symilar symptoms).
      However they did not further investigate the (high) possibility of a CVA or a VAD and did not even undertake a MRI (only a scanner which did not show anything) and that is really shocking.
      Antoine is back home and has the follwing sequels:
      – Visual problem with left eye (this is the biggest handicap)
      – Difficulty to swallow (but can eat and drink with some difficulties)
      – Does not feel heat or cold from left hand
      – Can speak clearly but has no voice (vocal cords impacted)
      – Can walk but sometimes does not control his right leg properly
      They only prescribed Kardegic to fludify his blood and have programmed another MRI in 3 months.
      Our major concerns and worries are :
      – Is he going to recover? How long might it take?
      – Can the fact that the treatment only started 2 weeks after the VAD reduces his changes to fully recover?
      Thanks in advance for any comment or feedback.

      1. Hi Didier,

        I’m not far enough along the road to be able to advise you but, if you haven’t found it already, try the VAD support group on face-book – (search for Vertebral Artery Dissection Support), it’s very active and lots of people will respond and help. You need to request to join and it took almost 2 weeks for me to get the okay! So, be patient, I think it’s a busy little site. Good luck to you and your son. From everything I’ve learned so far, there WILL be improvement over time. Nobody can say exactly what, when or how much though, that’s the unknown part.

        Take care, Sara 🙂

    4. Hi Sara and everyone else,
      Hope you’re all well and feeling ok. I had my VAD on the 23rd August in Portugal whilst on holiday with my family. To say that was a nightmare is an understatement. I spent a total of 16 days in hospital before being flown home on the 8th September.
      On the morning of the 24th I woke up having lost all movement on my right hand side, it felt like an out of body experience.
      But the most difficult loss to cope with by a country mile was losing my swallow. That was horrendous.
      I read with interest that it took nearly 2 months for your VAD to come to the surface. This is very similar to my time scale.
      I also have a droop in my opposite eye the left and I am experiencing “ice cream hand and leg” it’s a lot more severe at night.
      This little forum I found this morning has managed to answer lots of questions.
      I’m now 10 weeks from my VAD and feel constantly tired, numb, slightly heady and completely fed up.
      I try the best I can to stay positive but sometimes it’s hard as you probably know, those anxieties slowly creep up on you.
      On the positive side of things I’ve recovered my swallow and I now enjoy all the things I used to have pre-stroke. I have regained the movement in my right hand side but still retain the loss of feeling temperature and numbness especially in my face, again this is worse in the evening.
      I have a myriad of health professionals who threat my medical and mental issues, they have been wonderful and basically answer any questions I have.
      But that said, talking to people who have shared the experience is extremely helpful.
      Finally the people on here have made me feel I’m not alone, it gives hope and a feeling of sharing something that is unique to us all.
      Thank you Sara and the rest of the people that have taken time to contribute to this forum, it’s made a 55 year old feel not so insular anymore.


      1. Hi Martyn,

        It’s weird how similar your situation is/was to mine – time-scale and symptoms. Nobody else has really mentioned the ‘ice-cream’ head thing, which I’m currently finding the most depressing aspect. Like you, mine is worse in the evenings, it also seems to be worse when I get even slightly cool. (I’ve never been good with the cold.) I wonder if the fact that it’s worse in the evenings is to do, mainly, with holding our heads up all day, which (presumably) will compress nerves more than when lying down?! (But that’s just a guess). I always feel best, snuggly in bed in the mornings before I have to get up.

        I wanted to reply to each aspect of your comment but now I’m in the ‘comment box’ I can’t see your reply any more, so forgive what I miss. I have to rely on decrepit memory now, (was bad before all this.)

        I feel for you, having suffered stage one VAD abroad. I can only imagine the nightmare of it, knowing how bad it was at home, for me! What country are you in, btw? I hope that you continue to improve.

        I feel a bit better than when I was last on here but there is no movement/improvement on the right-sided numbness/pain/temp – as I feared, but it’s still early days. I’m finding that every few days feeling better are usually followed by a few days relapse. My b/f thinks that this is down to doing slightly too much because/when I feel more ‘normal’. Do you find this?

        I know I’m not doing enough exercise because of this. I keep telling myself that I’ll do loads when I know the VAD is healed, that I’ll walk every day, etc. But my day job is pretty sedentary; and being a writer keeps me glued to the chair at the best of times. It’s very easy to do so little right now; especially on bad days.

        Anyway, have you joined the VAD support group on face-book? (Search for Vertebral Artery Dissection Support.) It’s very active and useful. When I clicked to join it took ages for me to get the okay! So, be patient, if you’re not on there already.

        And keep me posted on your progress!

        Take care, Sara 🙂

      2. Hi Martyn, and everyone else. I am a 42 yr old female and I I have had neck pain and headaches everyday for 2 years, I went to the ER for neck and shoulder pain, numbing and headaches and was admitted, diagnosed with Vertebral Artery Dissection at the hospital Dec 3, they told me I could not fly till after the 19 of December, well I live overseas and I was lucky enough my family came here for Christmas. I fly home next Monday the 28 and even though the neurologist said it was ok to fly, I am still terrified, it’s a 10 hour flight. Now the thing is I was not told that I had a stroke. Has anyone had this situation before.
        I appreciate the help, and wish you happy holidays/ new year.

      3. Damian, I was told the same thing. NO stroke, that i am sound neurologically. I know that I do not feel the same. I was in the hosp in the ICU for a week on heparin after I was diagnosed. I am very thankful I did not have a stroke but years of frusterating neck problems, headaches and other issues have ensued and I have a hard time finding understanding healthcare providers.

    5. Dezi…
      Search for “Vertebral Artery Dissection Support” on FaceBook… lot of people there discussing a lot of things and a lot of help…

    6. Hi everyone, ive never replied to anything on the net but this web site has helped me so much since april 15 when my husband of 41 dissected his right carotid atery. He survived but is left with a pseudo aneurysm but is doing so well, since his last scan in sept our vascular consultant has found he has something called eagle syndrome where he has 2 bones that they think may have rubbed on the carotid and dissected it. There going to operate and cut them out as they may of been the cause along with the high blood pressure, Def worth googling it to find out more as its very rare! He has another scan next week so fingers crossed the dissection has healed. Good luck to everyone x

    7. hello my name is Amanda from Georgia the USA I also had a VAD left sided, it was on Sept 18th 2 days after a brain surgery on the 16th I too have hypermobility and than found that I had chiari all due to a genetic disorder that causes a lack of collagen In skin, joints blood vessels called Ehlers Danlos it causes scoliosis in ab out 90 percent of people. they just started learning this I am 4 months out from VAD still unsteady gait and dizzy. I a m 32 w two small children , one day at a time, it Is not EASY!

      1. Hi Amanda, hope you’re doing okay! So nice to hear from you; your experience and conditions sound so similar to mine. However, I don’t think that, here in the UK (due to NHS costs etc) that we get in-depth testing for genetic and other conditions (without a fight, at least). I think they tend to diagnose the immediate disaster and try to leave it at that, if they can get away with it. (In my experience so far.)

        But I have a consultant follow-up at the end of this month & I will be asking a lot of questions! I have hyper-mobility too and had scoliosis as a teenager, for which I had a spinal rod correction. Do you have scoliosis? I’m so sorry to hear about your condition. I’ve had no major adverse symptoms until now and I’m 47. I wonder if this means I might not have Ehlers Danlos because, perhaps, I would have known about it by now. From what I’ve learned. I’m trying to learn as much as possible about this whole enormous field because so little seems to be known.

        The trouble with my case (at the moment) is that my VAD diagnosis was their best guess (educated, albeit). Because they couldn’t actually see the dissection. All they could see was a small and ragged left artery. My stroke symptoms (like mild Wallenberg Syndrome without the ataxia) were what clinched the diagnosis. Presumably you’ve found the f/book support groups, by the way? They help loads:

        If you’re not already on them, it might take a while to gain admittance – they’re pretty busy sites.

        What is your unsteadiness like now? Is it related to the dizziness? I’ve had vertigo for the last week and a half (got milder, took motion sickness tablets), but it’s still there. Apparently our brains need to adjust to the damage by learning how to deal with balance again. You might know loads about this but, if not, I’ve just heard about Vestibular Therapy – which entails exercises to help your brain adjust. Someone posted a link on one of the facebook pages. I haven’t had time to try them yet because I went back to work yesterday on a ‘phased return’. Are you working?

        On the plus side, lots of sufferers say the dizziness began to subside at 4 months, so yours may clear up at any moment!! Hope so. All the very best. Keep me posted! Sara 🙂 x

  26. I can’t say how relieved I am to see a web page about this. I suffered a stroke from a spontaneous VAD in December of 2010 when I was 25 years old and have been lost ever since. It would not have been so bad, if the stroke had not left me 73% blind. I never recovered my eyesight and can only see a little to the left which I must be grateful for the ability to see at all. Though it has been so many years and I’m gratefully free of those rat-poisoned blood thinners, I’m curious if anyone still suffers from the neck pain or headaches???? Mine have never ceased and cause me daily pain. Though the doctors have checked my neck time and time again and assured me that the dissection is healed, I have no idea what is causing the pain and am curious if anyone else is having this problem?

    1. Caelan,
      So sorry to hear that. As I indicated in my story, I too went blind after my stroke (from the center line to the right) but my sight came back within a day or two… very lucky. The thing I’ve experienced with neck pain is that while it does eventually go away… it comes back every once in a while just to remind you that it was once there… as a matter of fact my neck hurt yesterday and today is just fine.

      I know how scary it is but I did go to physical therapy to work on my neck to loosen it up and that did make it feel better. I have to imagine you’re like I was and don’t move your neck much… turns out that’s the worst thing you can do because the muscles get too tight and can then cause you pain.
      Hope that helps.

    2. Hi Caelan,
      In 2013 I had spontaneous bi-lateral vertebral dissections and stroked on the right side. In my late 30’s super fit no high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol – they still don’t know why. I lost sensory not motor on my left side and the stroke(s) damaged a few different parts of my brain – mostly memory and cognition. I went to rehab for six months and back to work, but I’m in corporate finance and it has been a struggle. I just called time out and taking time off. I’m scheduled for a neuropsych test next week. I’m trying to get the old me back.

      Like you I still suffer from debilitating headaches and pain that radiates from the base of my skull down my neck and out my shoulder. It feels like I have a pen stuck in my eye.

      I’m going to tell you that you need to change doctors if they only just re-image you. It’s not uncommon to have this pain afterward and sometimes mine will switch sides – it’s crazy. There is a nerve near the brain stem where I stroked and when the muscle around it gets agitated (in my case my brain sends constant signals) it tightens up and causes the pain. It’s mirror of the eye and neck pain I experienced the weeks before the stroke. It’s as if my brain didn’t get the memo that the dissections are healed.

      I take gabapentin which coats the pain receptors and takes my pain from sharp to more dull pressure in those areas. I also take Cymbalta, which is an antidepressant but it helps with neck and eye nerve pain amazingly. If I had to choose Cymbalta or gabapentin I would choose Cymbalta that’s how well it works for me.

      There are also nerve blockers they can inject into the base of your skull to dull the spasticity and it will stop the pain and headaches. There’s also a nerve block that they shoot into the front of your neck (outpatient surgery) and into your spine I guess, I don’t know but I had that one too. Botox in that area is also an option. I haven’t tried Botox yet. My brain seems to be a bit of a jerk but a lot of people have great success with the blockers. I guess all i would say is that if there isn’t a dissection anymore, focus on what’s causing the eye and neck pain – which is spasticity.

    3. Hi Caelan,

      I’m sorry to hear you’re still having daily pain. Have you joined the facebook group for VAD support? There are a lot of members with great advice and all sorts of side effects and symptoms. I know there are many people in that group who still suffer neck and head pain despite their dissections being healed like yours. It is such a mystery. My dissection is healed but I still have my tingling and nerve damage.


  27. Thank you for setting up this site!
    I suffered a VAD & stroke in January 2009. At the time I searched for a site such as this… I was in need of hearing about others experience and most importantly… about others LIVING through it! Now that I am through it… I feel the need to let others know that someone else went through it and it is possible to get better.
    I suffered the stroke on a Friday night wrestling with my kids, my entire right side went numb and tingly. It was 6:45 and by 7:15 I was in the ER… unfortunately, as many can attest to – the ER is usually not the best place to be with a stroke. My GP sent me to the stroke ICU at Columbia Presbyterian in Manhattan. After my left eye had rolled back in my head I had gone blind from the middle line in my vision to the right and needless to say I was terrified. One of the crazy things about this entire situation is the lack of answers… no one has them…
    Long story short after spinal taps, x-rays, and MRI/MRA’s they finally found the dissection. My vision slowly came back, I was put on blood thinners and still take a baby aspirin today…

    However, that was only the beginning. After a heart attack they can tell you to exercise and change your diet. There are drugs for diabetes. They can cure so many things… but not stroke. The fear of something happening again was almost debilitating. I remember every little tingle in my arm, numbness in my face, twinge in my leg sent fear coursing through my body. I literally didn’t turn my neck for two years although I was assured that the VAD was healed and hence still struggle with a sore neck (doesn’t help anything). I spent another couple more nights in the hospital with what I thought were more symptoms (which turned out to be herniated disks in my neck). Its a long road… very long… and lonely. But there are others out there that went through it and things do get better!
    But the best part came last January… I actually forgot the anniversary of my stroke. The few days after when I realized it brought tears to my eyes. It takes such a toll on your psyche but you can and will get better. It took me six years… but it does get better…

    1. Matt, that account of your 6-year history after VAD stroke was so reassuring to me. A little over a year ago, I too, had a VAD stroke, and the ER ruled out stroke, but fortunately I was admitted to the hospital and a hospitalist suspected a stroke and ordered a test which found it. You are absolutely right about no one knowing anything concrete about a stroke, compared to other health diseases. How many times I have asked a question and gotten “everyone is different.” I know all about the fears when the neck gets stiff or feels like a hot poker is on the back of my neck, or wondering if a dizzy spell is a forerunner to something worse. After a year I have finally been reunited with the neurologist who cared for me in the hospital and who brought me through it. She has just ordered and received the report of an MRI and MRA and called to say the numbness in my face and hands I have described are not caused by any new strokes but symptoms of the original one. She told me to add baby aspirin to the plavix I am taking and that the more time that passes from the original stroke, the better the odds that I won’t have another. At last I have a doctor who I have confidence in and who actually knows my condition. This after months of not knowing much and expecting something awful to happen at any moment. To hear from a 6 year veteran of stroke that there is light at the end of the tunnel is wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your journey. For what it’s worth, I am resolved to walk a half hour a day as briskly as possible and this winter to walk in a gym. Also to breathe deeply (oxygen for the brain) and to remember to drink water often. I am in my mid 70’s and I think having the stroke may actually prove a blessing because I will stay more active and eat more carefully than I otherwise would have. I am also more thankful for every day of life.

      1. Mary,
        That’s fantastic that you found a doctor to listen to you or even empathize with you. Too often I had doctors answer my questions with a simple “you’ll be fine…”, that didn’t help! I was only 41 at the time of my stroke, little kids, etc., and no one had any answers. I too had the numbness in the right side of my face, strange feelings down my arms… all of which terrified me at the time but no one to turn to who would understand.

        One thing I did was talk to a friend who was a cancer survivor… he said don’t expect people who have never been through something like this to understand… they can empathize, but they never really understand the fear… the fear of death, the fear of sitting in a wheel chair, the fear of not being able to care for your family… keep breathing, keep walking, you’re doing great!

        1. Matt, I am anxious to know, after 6 years from stroke, if you still have any lingering symptoms? I am one year from stroke and have gotten back 85% of my energy, and the brain fog is gone. However, I have numbness and muscle “pulling” (that is the only way to describe it) in my face on the right side and especially around my mouth. I also have extreme numbness and coldness in my fingers (foot as well), numbness in arm, and my shoulder tends to want to freeze up. I have taken 3 months of pt which helped, but made the tingling, numbness, mouth muscles problem worse. My Neurologist has given me the minimum dose of Gabapentin (Neurontin) for the nerve pain and she believes over time it will diminish and I will be free of it. You said you had tingling and numbness too, so I wondered if it eventually went away? Did you do anything specific for it? My handwriting is improving, but it is painful to write checks. I type all personal correspondence.

          I will appreciate your response and I will bet that others will too.

          Thanks, Mary

      2. Mary,
        Honestly, I think it took at least two years before I felt “right”… I continued to have neck pain, the right side of my face was often numb, I would suffer from dizzy spells (not so bad that I would fall down… but certainly didn’t feel right). What confuses my situation is that I was then diagnosed with three herniated disks in my neck… this contributed to arm and hand numbness, etc. So, now I cant say what caused/causes what… honestly now about four times a year I still get neck pain with the numbness in the face. But now I have no idea what the cause is… But I can tell you that all of those things that every doctor tells you shouldn’t be happening, but still are, go on for a long time… personally I got “used” to them… which essentially meant that I could fake that I was just fine when it was all happening… but it doesn’t get any less scary except for knowing that others have gone through it and do get better!

        1. Matt, so comforting to know your experience. Hope the disk problem gets straightened out.

          Thanks so much for responding. By the way… toyou and others reading this, I have gotten a great deal of good from a product I call a rice bag. sells them and their rice bag shawls are what I and our family love. Everyone…even the grandkids…have one. For me, I heat one up for 5 minutes on high and it warms my cold numb feet and numb shoulder and cold, numb hand so that I can sleep at night. I’m thinking it might feel very good to your neck!


      3. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I had a VAD (right side) stroke 3 years ago. A CTA the other day showed my VAD has completely healed. I still have slight memory loss and achy pain at the base of my skull/neck area where it occurred. I can exercise and live life normally….yet do use caution. Good luck to all!!!

  28. Im a 47 year old female. I just found out yesterday I suffered a VAD on the right side 2 weeks ago. I suffered major ischemia in my brain. Fortunately my symptoms resolved rather quickly ( peripheral vision loss and confusion ) I’ve been sleeping a lot and still suffer daily headaches. It was so great to find this site for support. I’m on Plavix and baby aspirin for 6 months. Doc has limited my activity as well which is a bummer as I am an active person. Fear of this happening again affects me greatly. I’ll keep checking in. Thank you to you all for sharing your stories. God speed in everyone’s recovery and healing.

  29. Thanks for publishing this site. Last month I was diagnosed with a dissection in my left vertebral artery, and via angiogram two stents were inserted. I feel very fortunate that my general doctor sent me to the ER for a CT-Scan after I told her I had headaches for seven days that would not go away. The doctor who performed the stenting was amazing and I am so grateful for his intervention. I hope to be able to find more information about recovery and life after the stents. Still not sure what types of excercises are ok for me. I used to love yoga but am afraid of doing yoga because it involves a lot of next twisting. I am scheduled for a follow-up angiogram diagnostic in December. Thanks again for this site and greetings to all.

  30. I have not received any notice of postings to this website since June 12, 2015. I think I may have been “dropped”. I had a VAD 11 months ago and started PT 2 months ago. The PT has made the stroke symptoms (right side) worse. More numbness around mouth, tingling and numbness and coldness of hand and foot. What causes the increase in sensations? Has anyone else had this experience ? (I hope it is part of the healing process.)

    1. Just ran across this site as I was looking for info. I suffered a VAD and fractured C-6 in late August. I survived after flipping my truck three times. I am a walking miracle. I am waiting for my first follow up with Neuro in November. I have mild dizziness but nothing compared to most of you. To the ones who come here later looking for answers I would say this. Every case has similarities and differences and you are best to avoid self- prognosis based on what you read. Be thankful you are here reading and trust but verify everything your doc says before you hang on his/her words for security. There are too many good/bad ones and if you want the best care I will always recommend a well established teaching hospital. I don’t want to belabor this post with medical commentary but conclude by saying Never Give In to the fear, anxiety and depression associated with the seriousness of this trauma. Support, information and a doc who cares are your keys. Hope cannot be understated and it comes from faith in the One who is responsible for the divine design it has taken millinea to even begin to understand on our level. VAD ‘s are scary and often debilitating but they also most often heal themselves. You need to nurse any related clots and aspirin is best and Coumadin is well, big Pharma and often more risky than the benefit. I have found neck support very helpful when the dizziness and pain/stiffness flare. I have a Miami J collar from the C-6 fracture. I wear it occasionally. Also, as others have stated PT and reduced sensitivity thru exposure to symptom induction (carefully) is a plus. You know your body better than anyone else. Do what helps. Finally, to all who have come here and do I wish you all Refuah Shlemah!

  31. My 33 year old wife, Mary, had a left side VDA with stroke on October 25th, 2014. She was watching a movie in a theater with a friend and our kids and had intense headache. As she was walking out of the theater, her right side went paralyzed and she collapsed / sat down and was unable to speak or respond. Her friend called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital. I arrived 30 minutes later with our 2 month old son. From what they have told us since then, being post-partum was the risk factor that caused the dissection & clot.

    The ER doctor told me that TPA was the standard treatment within 3 hours of stroke but that it could either kill her or heal her. I had no experience with strokes whatsoever. I was standing there with our baby and didn’t want to kill her. I said no to the TPA. He phoned a Neurologist at the stroke center they were going to medevac her to, and the neuro asked him to ask me to reconsider and that she strongly advised me to let them give her TPA. I asked the ER doctor if that changed his opinion. He said no, he thought it was the right decision to not give her TPA, as it could kill her and she was likely to recover the same either way. I again went with the “no TPA” decision. I have lived in agonizing torment over that decision every day since.

    That was the “day of”. She was in the hospital for 2 weeks and spent another week at rehab. She was unable to talk, walk, swallow, and was completely paralyzed on her right side at first. By the time she left rehab, she was able to walk pretty well, had recovered some of the strength in her right side, but was still unable to speak much or read or write.

    Fast forward to now. She has regained nearly 100% strength in her right side and maybe 90% of her speech, but she still has headaches and dizziness. In the past 9 months, we’ve had two TIA scares and she spent 4 days in the stroke unit both times. The first time really was a TIA and the second time (about a week after running a 5k) we don’t know what it was… just sudden onset of extreme dizziness and a massive headache and a slight drooping on the right side of her face. Since then, she has struggled with almost daily dizziness. It comes and goes. Also, she has recurring headaches and pain on her right side from head to toe. Sometimes it’s less than others, but sometimes it’s really bad pain. Her right side also feels cold.

    She has been struggling with anxiety and fear. We have four children under 10 years old, and the thought that the pain in her head or especially the pain in the right side of her neck is another stroke coming on or another VDA can cause almost debilitating fear. Thus, why she asked me to do a google search for people with similar symptoms. She has made a lot of progress in speech and is reading and writing short sentences, but is unable to write this length, which is why I’m typing this.

    We’ve spent the last hour reading through the comments of this forum, much of the time in tears. Thank you so much to everyone who has written about their experiences, it is hugely encouraging for her to read about other people’s challenges. As many of you have mentioned, stroke recovery is an isolating experience and reading this forum has allowed her to hear the voices of others in similar circumstances. Thank you, thank you.

    Her big question is whether her neck pain and headaches could be symptoms of another stroke or VDA or something serious. The doctors have told her that a re-occurrence is unlikely as her one risk factor (being within the post-partum window) has passed and she is otherwise a healthy person. However, like others on this forum, we’ve received conflicting information from doctors and it sometimes seems like they are guessing rather than stating facts. Of course, no one can know the future. But can anyone give advice on how to overcome the fear of another stroke? Or whether neck pain and head pain necessarily means that something horrible is happening? Her VDA was on her left side, but it’s her right side head and neck that are really hurting.

    Thanks again for the encouragement and the hope that we’ve found here. God bless you all & may he grant each of you a full recovery and a long fulfilling life.


    1. I was also postpartum and suffered a VDA at 36. My neurologist says that someone with a VDA should never do activities where your feet pound (running), there is a sudden stop or start or risk of falling. Following those rules, I have been able to curtail the dizziness and headaches. She recommended stationary cycling for cardio. 13.5 months post VDA, life is finally getting back to normal. My anxiety over having additional strokes has lessened.

    2. Going on a year from my VDA on the left side. I also enjoy working out. The pain and stiffness on the head and neck is horrible at times. The dizziness can be mitigated with practice. I take Topiramate it has helped me be able to do more. i understand what your wife is going through to an extent but everyone’s path is their own. Things start to turn on again. I think of it as light switches. At first I could barely walk or even drive. Now I am almost myself, my left side sometimes bothers me, for me it’s a warm numb like feeling. It comes and goes. I have found that elevation changes is hard on me. This was unexpected during hikes. Which makes sense as the blood can’t move as though as fast. I was gasping for air. I suggest avoid that… It hurt. I just take it one day at a time, and walk a lot . Good luck I hope it helps to know your not alone.


  32. I am 1 year and 1 week post VAD, and 4 strokes in my cerebellum. I am scheduled for a CTA in the morning to check the status of my dissection. The last CTA showed it to no longer be occluded, but still not healed.

    I presented with severe left eye, neck and shoulder pain 6 weeks prior to the strokes. Saw numerous physicians and er trips to no avail. I was 12 weeks postpartum and they believed it was a hormonal imbalance giving me migraines. I thought I was the only one! Little did I know.

    I presented to the er vomiting, dizzy, unable to walk and in horrible pain. I was discharged after 12 hrs and told I had an ear infection. Only after another er visit 48 hours later was I admitted and given an mri.

    It has been a very slow recovery, but at 35 and having a new baby I am determined. The neck pain took 6 months to go away. I was left with left side weakness. My shoulder & arm being the worse. However, months of physical and vestibular therapy has me back in the gym. My workout routine still cannot contain high impact cardio, but I am weight training and doing balance/core exercises daily. I must ensure my head stays in a neutral position. Progress has been very exciting lately.

    I pray that my VAD has finally healed. I am very anxious to get my results tomorrow. Glad to hear others stories.

    1. I was wondering what exercises they have you doing for your core and weight training. I recently had a VAD and they told me to do low impact cardio and no upper body weight training. I am having trouble finding good core exercises that don’t have you move your head. Are planks safe to do or not recommended?

      Thank you

      1. Jen,

        I’m working with a trainer so some exercises are modified. I am not doing planks. We are using the Bosu ball to improve balance and core strength. I do my squats and arm exercises on it. I’m doing Russian twist with my head in neutral. I’m doing my legs lifts while laying flat. Push ups are modified on bar. I’ve seen fantastic improvement. My balance on the Bosu ball has dramatically improved. All of this has taken 17 months post VAD to achieve.
        But I am encouraged. I hope this helps.

  33. Thank you for this article. I lost a lot of weight 5 years ago due to carbs restriction, unfortunately I gained all the weight back in past two years. I’ve been thinking about going on this lifestyle for some time now, but I have a problem. I have big joints problems (deformation of patella and maybe CFS, docs are not sure yet) and it is impossible for me to work out now that I weight extra 20 kilos. I have also hypo thyroid.. Do you think I have any chance of losing weight without excercise? When I lost weight 5 years ago, I didn’t work out either – I started after losing my weight. But now I just can’t do it. I’ve tried everything except the keto diet. I’m 21 years old now. Thank you for your respond

  34. Hi Kseniya,
    I also had a VAD on the left side, I am an active, young female. It’s a long road but the occupational and physical therapy will help. I also thought I would have progressed faster. It’s just how your body heals.
    It’s been not yet a year and I still have, “tingling, on the left side, and especially in my leg”. It’s sometimes a warm feeling. I also have some weakness in my “left hand”. Really right around my fingers, it’s annoying. Physical therapy will helps! It really dose! Walking as much as you can! The worst thing is the excruciating head pains, “migraines” as they call them. Pain from my lower neck up into my skull. However, I push myself hard these days now, trying to be the old me, sometimes I overdo it and pay the price. This I hope is encouragement to you, because when it first happened to me I could not even drive or walk straight. So best of luck and keep hope!

  35. Hi all, I’m a 27 year old female and had a VAD on the right side about 2 months ago. I just did my follow up MRA and both the dissection and blood clot are healed and gone! I couldn’t be more thankful for such results. However I still have a lot of tingling sensations on my right side. My leg is the worst. I’ve been taking gapapentin to alleviate some of the nerve pain but was curious if anyone else was experiencing similar tingling? Sometimes it gets better and sometimes it gets worse. I have anxiety over it, worrying that it won’t get better. Hope everyone else is well, and staying strong!

    1. Hi Ksenia,

      I also had a VAD about 2 months ago. I definitely had one on the left side, and possibly the right side as well (neurologist and radiologist couldn’t agree about the right side). I am a 32 year old female. I have not had a repeat scan of my arteries yet to know how I’m healing, but both of my MRI’s have shown no signs of stroke. I too am still experiencing lingering tingling, for me on the left side, and especially in my leg. I also have some weakness in my left hand. I have just started physical therapy and am hoping that it will help. I originally thought that since I did not have a stroke that I would be back to normal very quickly, but that has not proved to be the case. My symptoms also vary in intensity, sometimes barely noticeable, and other times so bad that I begin to limp from the pain, tingling, and occasional numbness in my leg (usually when I’ve done too much). I feel like it’s a delicate balancing act of moving enough that I’m not getting stiff or pinching a nerve, etc., and then taking it easy and not moving too much. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery!


  36. I had a VAD and stroke Oct 21st 2015. Symptoms were nausea and my left eye and lower head had pressure at 11pm. Tried to get up and left side collapsed. My one real symptom was no balance and left side heavy. My damaged artery was the left one. I was very lucky insurance oked PT and OT which is a whole other subject. One month in therapy and I was walking with a cane. Three weeks later walking with no help. I was working full time @two and a half months( sales inside and outside). One thing that intrigued me was how many times I was asked if I had just been in an accident in the ER. Most have trauma to go with it. I’ve had my 3 and 6 month MRI’s and very little improvement in the dissection area. Worried, I asked my neurlogist @Mayo and she replied the reason I continue to improve is the “cirle of willis” which is a back up reservoir of blood and arteries at the base of the brain. I swim 2-3 times a week, golf and went on two trips. Other than my balance still working on, I was like many of you really tired often. I’d come home after work and be in bed by six but that has gotten better too. The last thing I want to leave all of you is after the first 6-8 weeks my doctor said “you’re going to get to a point where in the past you noticed improvement daily or weekly, now look where you were 1-2 months ago to now and you’ll still see improvement.” Best of luck to all!

    1. Hi Tom,
      My recovery has been very similar to yours. At 33, I couldn’t walk, talk, or swallow following the stroke, but everything has improved and I’m probably at 90-95% of where I was prior. My damage is on the left side and my VAD did not heal. It will be two years at the end of September. It worries me that it didn’t heal but gotta love that Circle of Willis 🙂 Best of luck to you in your recovery. The body is an amazing thing!

    2. I just found this fascinating website and wanted to ask a question because everyone here seems so knowledgeable about this situation!
      On 4/7/15 I woke up and tried to get out of bed..I felt incredibly unbalanced and was unable to stand–the dizziness was so profound that I soon began retching ..
      I managed to get to the stairs by dragging myself on the floor and finally got into a sitting position, where I remained for about 90 minutes. The lack of balance finally wore off and I was able to get up and walk. I felt “wobbly” but continued to improve. I emailed my neurologist whom I see for a separate issue. He brushed it off as nothing and told me if it continued to see my primary, and I went on with life. When I saw him a few weeks ago and went over what happened, he decided I could have had a dissection and scheduled me for an MRA which is supposed to happen in two days–more than 8 weeks post “event.” He also told me that “they don’t do anything about dissections” so it was not a big deal. Having read this blog I have a few questions..
      1) could this have been a dissection without any pain?
      2 ) Could I have gotten better that fast with no lingering symptoms
      3) had it been discovered on time would they have “treated” it somehow?
      4) would anything still be visible on an MRA?
      I am a 55 yr old female in decent health with a physically demanding job . The only thing I can think of that has bothered me since then is that I have been tired–but I work overnights so that could be a red herring! Any comments or info much appreciated!

  37. Anyone have the experience of not being able to return to work after their VAD and stroke? I am 38 years old and had a stroke 7 months ago. I returned to work part-time after my stroke. I am a teacher and am finding it very difficult to walk around my classroom and school, grade papers, help students, and other daily tasks of a teacher. I am exhausted on the days I work. The main symptoms from my stroke are double vision, loss of balance, and loss of coordination. I also have loss of feeling/temperature on my left side. My VAD has not healed and dr’s say it is unlikely it will. I am considering applying for disability but hate the thought of that!

    1. Diana R have you tried occupational or physical therapy ? The dizzyness is uncomfortable almost painful but they expose you to it. This is suppose to rebuild the lost ability to deal? There is technical terms for it…. 🙂 in time it could dose not last as long or feel as bad . The team that they sent me too was some great people.

    2. Hi Diana:

      I had a VAD and three strokes. I retired shortly afterwards and now it is just over 2 years when the strokes happened. I really miss going to work. I was a teacher. Most of my socialising was at work. I very much miss that and being productive. I would not listen to the doctors. Why wouldn’t it heal? It may take longer than the average. But if you are kind to your neck there is no reason why it won’t heal in the long-run. Just stay in there and try to forget about it while being kind to your neck. If there is one thing that I have learned through all this is to never listen to the doctors because they don’t know what they are saying. Most of them have never heard of a VAD and even if they have they don’t know about the healing process. Doctors told me I would always have double vision and not be able to walk after 6 months. Here I am every day making massive improvements. According to them I should not even be alive but I survived the strokes. As I said, just hang in there and stop worrying if you are about your neck. I am just kind to mine and never think of it. Lisa

  38. Hello, if this is still an active thread, I would really like to talk with some folks who have lived with VAD for over 8 months. How they live their lives . I have retuned to a mostly active life. However, compared to the person I was, its not the same. I was wondering dose it ever go completey away?

    1. It has been seven months since my stroke. My daily activities are back to normal but I still live in a constant state of dizziness and being off-balance. I hope I continue to get better especially as I get closer to the one year mark.

    2. Rose, You are not alone in your wondering if you will some day be your old self. I am 6 months from my episode and I wonder as well. I can see great progress and have just planned a trip on my own for a couple of days in June, but I tire easily and my right arm, hand, numbness on right side of face, and right shoulder at times seem worse and then at other times better. Handwriting is a painful chore. Consequently I type messages whenever I can. When I ask doctors about the outlook for complete recovery the reply is universal – that everyone is different and that over time the brain will find a way to compensate if we are patient and do exercises that stimulate the process. I would like to know if you, or anyone on this forum have numbness around the mouth and if you have experienced itching around the base of the nose? I was told recently by an experienced, older doctor that that symptom is not uncommon pre and post stroke. Please keep asking questions as I think it helps us all. Having a stroke is such a lonely and unknown event. It helps to know that others are making the same journey.

      1. Hi:

        I am amost two years out from a right side VAD and a basilar artery clot and 2 bleeding strokes, one small one in my cerebellum and one small one in my brain stem. I, too, have slight numbness on the right side of my body. I spent three months in hospital and one month after that for surgery for ovarian cancer. After that I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy.

        All I can say is that you will slowly heal but it does take time as it it has with me. I am much better than I was this time last year. Try not to think about it and avoid straining your neck. Make sure you drink plenty of water!

    3. Thank you! This helps knowing others are out there. At first I thought I was never going to be able to workout, drive, walk right again. Then things started to turn on like light switches. Dizzyness was an a big issue. Though now it’s less and less, lasts only A moment. Pain in the neck was contant at first and now when I over do it. Though I keep I little pain but I can deal, though I can’t run like I did before with out creating migraines. I hope that goes away soon. I have done a lot of reading and it seems that this happens to some active people . I wonder if it’s common ? Thanks for everything! I wish you all the best at every stage ! And I walk a lot . It helps me feel better. I can’t say my neurologist was amazing . Did anyone have issues with doctors and the subject?

    4. I am 14 months out since my VAD with a TIA. An MRI at 5 months showed that I was healed. I am back to being active , working 40 plus hours a week, but I am still not as I was before. I still have slight headaches almost daily but learn to live with it. Sometimes I feel like my right eye is droopy but it isn’t. I also have occasional dizziness. My neurologist does not understand why I still feel like this. The only medicine I take is a baby aspirin. I walk daily. I used to lift weights , but no more. I don’t want to do anything that would cause strain to my neck as many have had VAD from lifting weights and doing cross fit. So I just relax, not get too stressed and enjoy life.

    5. Sandy, thank you,! yes aspirin and walking.!Though I do lift some weights with my neck supported and not heavy, just repetition.

      Mary, my nose dose not go numb but my bottom lip has little to no feeling. Could have always been that way . I think the hardest part is my co workers no understanding . I was back at work within 10 days though I could barly walk .

      Recently, I have been putting myself in situations that make me dizzy. During occupational therapy I learned that I was avoiding situations that were uncomfortable and therefore not progressing. This is something that was discussed however , I may have taken it a little further than I should. My head thanks me’s..

      Everyone is saying….Double vision yes , so I went from 20 20 with a slight stigmatism some not great vision.
      Wondering if that’ll go back or if this is permanent?


  39. Hi All,
    first of all apologizes for my English, I’ll try to be clear.
    I have suffered a double diseccion. carotid and verterbral. Both on the left side.
    I had an accident skiing , but not too serious. I felt nothing after.
    A week after that I had the wortst headache of my life in my neck. Several days after I was working with my PC and I suddenly turned my head and at that moment the ictus appeared. I felt very dizzy and couldn’t see. My eyes were like dancing.
    After two weeks at hospital now I’m at home with warfarin, and in two months A MRI will be done to confirm that the tears are healing properly.
    I love skiing and riding my dirty bike, I would like to know if I will practice these sports. How is life after arterial dissection? I’m 42 y.o and I have a lot of things to do yet.
    Thanks all for this website

    1. Hi joe. I am looking forward to hearing the replies. I am in a similar situation and keen to return to all different types of activities.
      I have a friend who knows someone who has had cad and they after year went back to boxing ?? Sorry can’t be more hepful

      1. From all accounts, once the dissection has healed there is very little chance of a reoccurrence. After a rest period of 3 months, then a follow up after another 3, a CT scan confirmed my arteries appear normal. I have been riding a road bike (bicycle) for months following at high intensity / heart rate and have had no further issues.

    2. Hi Peter, Hi Wtt,
      Thanks for your posts. I’m glad to know that I will continue with sports
      When the neurologist told me I had dissections, I felt the only one who had suffered this ever, I feel better to hear from others like me.
      I’ll post any news from my doctors , I hope this could help .
      Thanks for this blogg

    3. Hi all,
      A lot of time has passed since I post my message . In my last visit with the neurologist, she told me that my two arteries were totally healed. Now I am having just an aspirin for six months and that’s it. I am practicing all kind of sports. The doctors told me to do just what I was doing before the dissections.
      Recurrence in dissections is very rare so I am living my life like this wouldn’t have happen. I will remember all my life this experience, my fears, my family absolutely worried at hospital but as time passes this memories are very far from me.
      I wish a lot of luck to all of you that are in the healing process and think positive, you will be healed in months.
      Kind regards
      Kind regards

    1. Hi, D morris,
      The first days after my stroke I realised my reading wasn’t as fast as usual, but after a week I can read properly.

  40. Hello everyone. The comments are encouraging and comforting. Thank you for posting. I was in an MVA a few weeks ago and was diagnosed with a Right VAD. I’m on aspirin, plavix and Lipitor. Sounds like from the post, this usually takes 3-6 months to heal. I do have a lot of neck pain mainly all on the right side of my neck but I can’t tell if it’s from the whip lash or dissection. Also, I was wondering if anyone had any ideas at night sleeping? It’s been really hard sleeping because of the pressure when I lay down. I’ve been trying to elevate my upper body more to sleep. Any suggestion? Any tips on natural healing or helping with the healing process? Thank you so much for reading.

    1. Hi
      I am now four weeks post spontaneous bilateral carotid dissection’s, thankful no stroke despite initial symptoms, previously fit and healthy. I am currently recovering at home, plan to return to work soon, I am on warfarin, heparin and regular paracetamol and stronger pain killers when required. I have started to increase my activity however continue to have continuous headaches, neck pain, eye pain and painful scalp on my left side the intensity varies. After discussion with my doctor and reading this site I am now aware this is something to expect and that it will take its own time to get better which in a strange way is reassuring. Has anyone had a bilateral dissection ? Is the recovery time still the same ? I am assuming so !! any help greatly appreciated and thanks for your posts been really informative.

      1. Hey, I had a bilateral carotid artery dissection 5 years ago with no stroke. I made a good recovery with only occasional migraines. If took about a year to feel normal again. I have just had a left VAD (again with no stroke) despite the chance of recurrence being 1% meaning I only have one route to the brain being intact. To be honest I feel like a ticking time bomb, I was 30 when I had my first dissection.

  41. Hello everyone! I suffered a VAD and stroke back in Oct of 2014. I was 37 years old at the time. My main lingering symptoms are dizziness, loss of balance, and double vision. I have done OT, PT, Vestibular Therapy, and starting Vision Therapy next week. I truly feel as though I’m doing worse since Christmastime. Could that be possible? I have returned to work part-time but need to figure out when I can go back full time. Most people I have talked to say that it could take up to three years to get back to normal…I’m not sure what will help me most…more time for rest and recovery or trying to jump back into my old schedule. Anyone have any thoughts?

    1. Dear Renee:

      I think if you can work up to full-time then that is better than sitting at home like I do exercising. I had really bad double vision, which lasted for 3 months at least. Now I have it in one corner of my right eye when I turn my head. I also had a right VAD. Shortly after the strokes I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I had deep vein thrombosis. I had surgery for cancer followed by chemotherapy. So far things are fine but I find the rehab very slow despite doing exercises every day for almost two years. Thankfully, through all this I had no pain or nauseous. I think you have to be patient; if you can work–work is a good rehabilitor and will help you get your mind off things. Hopefully, as you work you will get better and better until you can go full-time. I wish the best for you and wish I had the options to go back to work soon.

    1. The dissection (tear) commonly heals itself in around 6 weeks, which is common recovery time for vascular recovery, and also the usual advised recovery time for most surgeries.

      1. In my case, I found the coumadin that was prescribed for me in the hospital inhibited my bodies natural healing process. Once I got off the pharma and on a good nutrition/supplement program, I healed in 6-8 weeks.

    2. Just came from the neurologist. He reviewed the MRA again and MRI.
      There are no signs of stroke . Good thing-right? He said (several times) that I should not attempt to get the tear repaired. In fact he stressed that procedure is rarely if ever done unless it causes serious trouble ( strokes) due to the level of difficulty and high risk/low reward in my case.
      His opinion” leave it alone and stay calm ” I’m Sicilian-is he kidding? stay calm-really ?.

      1. Hi Bob,

        Yep, that’s what is recommended along with anti stroke meds like plavix (clopidogrel is the active ingredient) and aspirin. I found the mental side of it more difficult than the physical, trying to stay calm and positive – I also think worrying and consciously/subconsciously limiting neck movements etc makes you stiffen up causing more pain and discomfort. I detailed my experience in earlier posts if you are interested.

        1. Peter-you hit the nail dead on , thanks man. 8 weeks ago I incorporated one simple 2 word tactic when things / people get annoying—walk away.
          God Bless

  42. Hi all,

    It has been a little over 6 months now since my dissection and all though it is a bumpy road I am recovering nicely. I am back to usual routines and able to lift weights again in the gym (70-80% of usual capacity). I still get headaches and neck pain but it is manageable. I seldom have to take any aspirin. Something I have noticed and wanted to ask you guys about is that when I get something innocent like a cold or flu like symptoms my neurological symptoms (headaches and neck pain) really worsen. Especially if I have to blow my nose a lot. It gets to the point where it is difficult for me to assess what is the cold and what is “post” dissection stuff. Is anybody else having this experience?

    1. I am happy to hear that you are recovering nicely! I too have experienced worsening symptoms when fighting a cold. I recently had a lower respiratory infection and my neck pain was much worse. Whenever I swallowed, sneezed, or coughed my neck hurt so much.

      1. Thanks Sherrie for your helpful comment. You know for men colds are “a real condition” as it is – lol- so having additional symptoms make me feel real sorry for my self!

        I am wishing you and everybody else here on the thread all the best and continued recovery.

        Niels in Copenhagen

    2. I came down with a cold two days ago. It is the first since a VAD stroke almost 5 months ago and had a dizzy spell this morning, the first since the day the stroke occurred when I stayed dizzy for hours. So it seems that a cold has brought out my neurological symptoms as well. Otherwise, I’m doing about everything I did pre-stroke but I seem to take longer doing it and I still have numbness on my right side (foot, hand, face) which has diminished but still bothers me . Do others notice a slowing down?
      I like reading about the recovery journey of others because it is an isolating experience.

  43. 2 things-
    first -i have a vad but ,to my knowledge, have never had a stroke (67). is it possible?
    2nd-is it possible to post the recent comments first?

    1. Hi Bob,

      Absolutely you can have a VAD and no stroke. I was one of those cases. The reason I was diagnosed was I had bad tension in my neck and trouble turning my head, accompanied by a dull constant headache in the back of the head. I also had visual disturbances on 2 occasions but an MRI showed no evidence of stroke damage.


    2. Bob –

      Thanks for coming here and sharing. And… I liked your idea of listing the newest comments first, so that is now the case! I never imagined that so many people would visit the post and comment like this, but I’m grateful people are connecting and sharing here like this.

      Be well.


  44. Hi everyone, It has been exactly 4 months since I experienced a VAD. The overwhelming fatigue I have had is just now finally diminishing. (I have slept enough in the last 4 months to rival Rip Van Winkle.) I even have bursts of energy from time to time along with waking up with a resolve to tackle this or that project. It’s as though I have moments of “awakening” of my old self. This is very encouraging to me because I have been going through the motions of life since the stroke without much enthusiasm. I mention this subtle breakthrough at 4 months as a way to encourage some of you who may have had the same post-stroke feeling of coping but not fully your old self. I am 76 and many of you are half that age, so if I am getting my old self (zest for life) back, imagine what you will do! I was recently inspired by the stroke story of Tedy Bruschi, player for the NE Patriots. Here is the link in case you want to read it.

  45. Hello again. I’m about 3 months past my VAD, no stroke (though I have had stroke like symptoms, arm weakness, etc). I’m getting out more than I did a couple months ago, but I expected to feel much better by now… However I still have consistent head pressure, occasional arm weakness and dizziness. Should I be concerned that symptoms have lingered this long?

    1. Jack, Are those symptoms better than they were 3 months ago? If so, you are making progress. I find that my measurement of recovery requires looking where I was 4 months ago (rear view mirror) and realizing how much better I am. Fatigue and right-side numbness (especially facial), and a little spastic muscle activity in the upper arm and shoulder keep reminding me that I’ve had a stroke. But when I compare how I felt when I came home from the hospital 4 months ago, I’ve made incredible progress. You sound to me as though you are making a strong recovery, and letting more time pass will bring you back to feeling more like yourself.

  46. Amazing stories folks-thanks
    I’m Bob -67 yr old male , controlled cholesterol with meds, heart stent (90%blockage) 1 bad lung-trauma, 2 bouts and victories with cancer and type 2 diabetes. I love water sports and sleeping.The price of a misspent youth( wrecks and bar fights).
    6 months ago the headaches started– noticeable, annoying, troublesome, recurrent–explosive
    .Each time the cause was environmental ( things or people-mostly people).
    Had a mria 3 days ago, result 80% blockage due to a v.a.d.. I’m setting up appointment with a vascular surgeon next week. Oh ,also-because of the heart stent I take Aspirin,Plavix ,Metoprolol already-probably why I still alive.
    Wife 3 kids,4 grand kids, grand kids have single mothers.
    Dam—I simply can’t die. Whoopee more stress.
    Thank You Lord

  47. I had a VAD mid October 2014. Will finally get a neurology work up in April at a place where I am also scheduled for LASER DOPPLER BIL TCP02 at that time. Has anyone had that test? At the 3 month point, I have just ceased Coumadin, and many of the post-stroke symptoms are either so much better or have disappeared. I have tackled the risk factors which may have contributed to the stroke and I am very encouraged.

  48. Is it normal to have severe headaches off and on? My neurologist said I should start seeing relief from headaches in a week or so but I’m still struggling some days with head and neck pain. My TIA was Christmas Eve so it’s not yet been a month. I feel like I’m receiving different information and opinions regarding the healing process.


    1. Hi Sherrie
      I had my VAD in August and I am still getting headaches. I am on medication which does help how bad they are but still get them. Reading other people’s replies think that is quite common.

    2. Hi Sherrie,

      It seems like everyone recovers at different rates. For me, I had significant headaches daily for about a month after my VAD and stroke. But they went away. Sometimes I still have neck pain, but I’m unsure if it’s related to the dissection, if it’s something else (muscular), or if it’s just psychological.

      Hope the healing continues for you and you have a complete recovery soon!


    3. You aren’t alone in getting mixed messages. It’s a medical no-man’s land where I live. Need to get where people really know their stuff. Will fly to a major medical center in April and get a handle on the reality of my condition. I couldn’t get any imaging done after having a VAD 3 months ago. My doctor said that no doctor in our region orders imaging to check on healing but assumes after 3 months of Coumadin that it has healed. I live in a rural state with low population and neurologists (especially ones who will see Medicare patients) are scarce as hen’s teeth. Looking forward to April!

      1. Even in a capital city in Australia (Brisbane), imaging was not ordered for me until 6 months post diagnosis. As you say, doctors rationalize that regardless of the results of the 3 month scan (healed or not) the treatment is the same. Makes sense, but doesn’t let the patient know how they are progressing or help to lower the stress level you experience after a diagnosis like this. I have my follow up for my 6 month scan on Thursday and will post back here with the results.

        Stay positive all, try not to stress too much.

  49. Dana,

    Don’t panic yet! It does take time for the dissection to heal, usually 3-6 months. I hit the three month mark in December but my dissection has not healed. I go back to the neurologist in February for my next follow up. Try to stay positive and rest when you can. What helps me is thinking about how sick I was when I was in the hospital and immediately following the dissection, and how far I’ve come now. I’m a different person. If you can look at it that way, then it is a lot easier to be patient and positive.

  50. I suffered a stroke on Oct 4, 2014 due to a right vertebral artery dissection. I went to the ER with severe vertigo, vomiting, and double vision. At the 3 month mark, last week, I had a follow up CT Scan and it showed the VAD has not healed as expected. Anyone else know what implications this has? I am taking aspirin and Lipitor for stroke prevention. I go to my neurologist next week and am a little worried why it hasn’t healed yet.

    1. Please be patient as you are not far out from the dissection. As all these posts say it takes at least 6 months for the VAD to heal and that means shorter and longer time for many people. You should comfort yourself that it has not gotten worse. Be positive and make sure you drink plenty of water.

    2. Thank you! Do people have to wait to go back to work until the dissection heals? I am a teacher and have been off work since my stroke. Still struggling with balance and double vision. I drive only in areas I am familiar with. Turning my head makes me dizzy.

      1. Dana,

        Just read your response before my initial response and had to post again. I am also a teacher, and was told I needed to stay out for two months. Due to not having disability insurance and not having enough days, I made the choice to go back to work after only one week. There are times that it is tough, but in general, it was the best thing that I did! Being in a routine, surrounded by people who care about me, was far better then staying home alone. I guess it depends on what grade you teach. I teach middle school students, so they are older and require less from me physically. I also have phenomenal paras in my classroom who know the situation and keep a close eye on me.

        1. As previously posted, my disection was July 11th. Thankfully no stroke or neurological effects. I still get pain and truthfully it does worry me. I had an MRO in December and everything looks good. I am hopeful I can fly in February. The neurologist said I was able to bit truthfully I am still nervous. Has anyone else felt this way. I am not a nervous person however this whole thing has put a scare into me. I know how very lucky I am to still be here. I am thankful everyday as things could have been much worse. I have a child with exceptionalities who has many health concerns so resting and a stress free life eludes me. I am wondering if any of you have been EDS? It is a connective tissue disorder? It was mentioned to me when I was in emergency. I have many of the symptoms and so does my daughter. We are going to be tested. I also had an ultrasound of my aeorta to ensure it was ok. Has anyone else been tested for that?

  51. Kerry,
    Thank you! Reading you experience has given me some comfort. I work from home so that isn’t a huge issue but I am sad about not being able to do yoga. I was also looking forward to a vacation but looks like I may not be able to fly.

    I hope you continue to recover quickly.


  52. I am so happy to have found this blog. I am a 41 year old female. My VAD occurred on Dec.24, last week. I was sitting on my sofa watching tv and I felt a pop then an electric shock through my head. It felt like blood rushed from my head and I lost vision in my right eye briefly. This was followed by severe headache on the right side of my head. Four days later I was still experiencing headaches and went to the ER. The angiogram revealed a tear in my right carotid artery. My MRI didn’t show any damage to my brain. I was put on aspirin and told to limit my activity.

    It’s been 5 days since the ER and the right side of my neck hurts so badly that can’t turn my neck. I was back at the ER yesterday. They did scans again but didn’t see anything new. I’m terrified of this becoming worse because my pain is worse.

    I appreciate reading the experiences of others. If anyone has any advice I’d love to hear it.

    1. Hi Sherrie,

      I don’t usually post, but your experience was incredibly similar to mine. My VAD occurred in my left vertebral artery on September 11, 2014. I thought I slept wrong and pulled a muscle in my neck, to the point that my best friend was massaging it that whole day at work. September 13th I had the worst headache of my life, it felt like there were knives stabbing the back of my head. I spent 4 days in the hospital because I was a stroke and heart attack risk, all at 27 years old. When I was released, I was put on aspirin and told to limit my activity.

      Three days later I was back in the hospital because of incredible neck pain. The tear did not spread, it was simply part of the healing process. I was in the hospital for another day and given IV painkillers. A few days later, the pain finally went away. I returned to work (teaching middle school students) on September 22nd.

      I want to reassure you that the pain does go away and things do get easier. However, there are times that I still feel pain in that part of my neck, and that can be pretty scary. It does go away rather quickly, but it still freaks me out. I recently went back for my 3 month testing where the doctors found that my artery went from being 90 percent blocked to 70 percent blocked by a blood clot formed during the dissection. I have to continue to take it easy until we get to the 6th month mark.

      My best advice for you is to take it easy, but keep things as normal as possible. Originally, the doctors wanted me out of work for awhile. I would have gone crazy, so I opted to go back after just one week and it was the best thing I did. The routine gave me a reason to get up every morning. Also, this may sound petty and girly, but don’t go crazy if you gain weight. I was put on a medicine to open up my blood vessels and it made me gain 30 lbs in 3 months. As horrifying as that is, it did save my life. Keep things in perspective. It could have been a whole lot worse. Eventually you will feel normal again, but it will take time.

  53. Hi Everyone,

    Thank you all for sharing your stories, for asking questions, and for providing answers based on your experiences. It’s amazing to see all the activity and genuine information here.

    It has been a little over three years since my VAD and stroke. I’m now only taking baby aspirin (81mg) and probably will for the rest of my life as a precaution. I occasionally feel a neck pain that seems like it could be related to the dissection, but I think it’s just a muscle pain or some “phantom” pain instead of anything real. I continue to have annual follow-ups with a neurologist, and the latest advice they’ve given me is to do whatever I want—no restrictions.

    In terms of flying, I was cleared to travel pretty quickly after the stroke by my doctors. I believe that was within a couple months. What they cautioned me about was anything non-commercial where pressures could change rapidly like skydiving and SCUBA diving.

    Hope you all have a great 2015 and for those that have recently had a dissection or stroke, my thoughts are with you for a speedy recovery.


    1. Robert thank you for your posts. It helped me. Im 40. I had dissection and mini stroke on dec 24. Im glad you feel good. It gives me hope for my recovery.
      Thank you again,

  54. So you had no issues with the pressure? Also were you able to get travel insurance? My family doctor told me that a VAD is treated the same as a stroke, so no flying for a year. I have to be on plavix for a year. He just called me last week with MRI results. It is healed. The neurologist said flying should be ok. I am going to contact the specialist at the stroke clinic to get his input. The difference in opinions is making me nervous and I am not usually a nervous person. I still get pain in my neck, that is why the follow up MRI was ordered. Does anyone else experience this?

    1. I was on Coumadin for 4 months. Now I am on a baby aspirin for life. I saw a vascular neurologist who at 5 months told me it was safe to fly since my artery was healed. I live in Rhode Island and flew to South Carolina . Then 2 months later I flew to Florida. Last month I flew across the country to California. No issues with airplane pressure. I have daily head pain & pressure but everything felt the same after flying.

    2. I did not feel any problems with pressure I have to say and it was along haul flight for us to the USA. I was just told not to do that blowing through your nose while holding your nose to equalise the pressure in the ears so I wore the travel ear plugs which seemed to work. I had to pay an extra £100 for my insurance but that is covering me for a year and I am flying back to the States later this month which they have covered me for. Hope that helps

      1. Thank you for the information. How long did you wait to fly? I have insurance through my credit card however my doctor said it may not cover me now that I have had a VAD. I am wondering if I should speak to my travel agent and then the insurance.

        1. I waited 3 months from the VAD to travel and told my insurance company (it is through my bank) 3 weeks before I was leaving once I had the OK from the consultant. They asked me what medication I was on and some medical things such as what symptoms I still had ( told them about the headaches and hoarse voice from the vocal cord palsy) and that my consultant had said it was OK to fly – they were really mainly concerned to see if there was any other physical difficulties such as stroke and how much physical damage there was but as I have full use of my l imbs they seemed fine by that. Hope that helps. Good luck

  55. Happy New Year to all of you. I had my VAD in July. I just had a follow up MRI and things look good. I still get headaches at times and neck pain once in awhile. I was wondering if any of you have been cleared to fly? I am concerned because I do swell with flying. Wondering if my travel insurance will aprove me?

    1. I had my VAD in March. My MRI 5 months later showed that it had healed. I flew right after that. I have since flown a few times with no problems. I still have daily head pain from my VAD.

      1. Hi. Happy New year! I had my VAD in August and after my review MRI in October which showed it had healed 50% I was allowed to fly I was on anticoagulant therapy still( now on platelet therapy) Im still having a few problems so having SALT to help with the vocal cord palsy and doing Pilates to help with the balance. Headaches still present some of the time. Take care all

  56. In January I will be faced with making a decision of continuing Coumadin or replacing it with aspirin. My VAD occurred mid-October, 2014. Whether to stay on it for 3 months or 6 months after the VAD event isn’t clear to me. If any of you have an opinion on this, I would appreciate it.

    1. My VAD was in April. By September, after my 3rd MRI and it showed the vertebral artery was still not canalized back to more than 30% flow, my neurologist said I still needed blood thinning. But, if you refer to the Physicians Desk Reference for Coumadin, it clearly states that Coumadin does not heal ischemic tissue damage, which is what I needed. So, I sought out a more alternative doctor and he put me on a regimen of enzymes, probiotics, chelation, minerals, anti-oxidents and a whole food diet. It took 3 weeks to step down off the Coumadin. But, once I got my system cleaned out, my progress has been phenomenal. I believe the Coumadin was good while I was still in the early stages of healing, but later on, it inhibited my healing and I needed to take things that would support my bodies natural ability to heal. Be honest with yourself and pursue the course you need. There are many ways to heal the body. Many blessings to you, Mary. I hope your recovery is quick.

  57. Hi all.

    Since I was here last I have been reading just about everything available about Vertebral artery dissection, VAD with mini-strokes, strokes etc. including many testimonies. I am encouraged by this.


    When the initial danger (1-2 weeks) is over then the recovery will set in general set in. The arteries heals themselves in 3-6 months in the majority of cases which CT or MRI scans will detect and functions can be regained. In my case the CT scan looks fine with no VAD showing (4 months in). Sleep is important and lots of it. Healthy diet. Mindfulness and self-compassion is helpful especially if you have anxiety- and depression symptoms. Let your body know that you intent to use it. All of it functions. Exercise and listen to the body and breathe. Then rest again.

    Of course we are all different but when I read about the advice given by various neurologists to their patients about the recovery process I find them very unclear. They are ranging from very conservative “don’t do any neck movements at all more or less forever” to “there is minimal risk so you can do whatever you want”. I wish to be about what I value and not about what I fear. So I have started cadio 3 times a week. I do get headaches. I hope they will pass because they are painful and scary. Perhaps it will be like a broken bone that has healed but does not feel the same. When I am 6 months post-VAD I will assess again and return to resistance/weight training and some cross fit . I will be aware to avoid neck movement/rolls simultaneous with weight/pressure/resistance.

    My dietitian has put me on a supplement Proanthocyanidins sometimes called OPCs, an abbreviation for oligomeric procyanidins, or PCOs. Proanthocyanidins are found in most plants and thus are a part of the human diet. They can be found in large quantities in grape seeds and skin, hence in red wine and grape seed extract, in cocoa, nuts, apples and all Prunus fruits (most concentrated in the skin) and in the bark of Cinnamomum (cinnamon) and Pinus pinaster (formerly known as Pinus maritima). It can also be found in berries like blueberry and cranberry (notably procyanidin A2) and fruits from wild shrubs such as chokeberry,hawthorn, rosehip and sea buckthorn. PCOs seems to help in stroke prevention by increasing red blood cell pliability, decreasing blood viscosity and increasing fibrinolytic activity. PCOs improve blood vessel wall elasticity and lower blood pressure . PCOs help to stabilize the blood-brain barrier. By combating atherosclerosis and hypertension, PCOs could provide additional protection against stroke. Grape seed proanthocyanidins confer more protection against lipid peroxidation that do vitamin C, vitamin E or beta-carotene.
    As always – please do not start supplements of any kind before checking with your GP and make sure that they do not interact badly with the medicine you may be already on.

    Remember you are not alone. Someone else is having this too.

    Wishing all a speedy and safe recovery.

  58. I had a VAD 2 1/2 months ago. Right side feels numb, especially right side of face and right foot. Right foot is very cold much of the time. My right arm and right leg have muscles which feel sore, as though injured. I would like to know from others’ experiences during recovery how long the numbness (and muscle soreness) lasts?

    1. hi Mary. I had dissected carotid artery. Two weeks later I had stroke. This happened August 2014, 4 months ago. I too have numb left side from head to toe. Sorry to say no relief and no prospect in short term. Doc says tingling sensation is good sign coz sensation is returning. I wish made me happy! I was offered amitripoline (sorry about spelling)and another similar drug. They weren’t much help sorry.
      Regards. Sam.

      1. Thanks, Sam. I have trouble being patient. I have been told that eventually the body heals itself in many, many ways but it takes time.

        All the best to you,


      2. Hi Mary,
        I had a VAD and stroke about 15 months ago. I’ve been on Lyrica since the for the nerve damage and it has been a great help.aybe that could help with the tingling and numbness? It’s actually a fibromyalgia medicine. I still have muscle pain but it’s still getting continuously better. Stay positive :). I hope that helps!

    2. Hi Mary,

      I had a VAD about 2 months ago and my right side is tingly from top to bottom, with my leg being the most sensitive. It’s uncomfortable and some days I’d worse than others. My doctor put me on gapapentin to relieve some of the tingle. It helps to a certain degree. I wonder when will this feeling start to fade? Have your symptoms subsided? I also have occasional head pain and anxiety.

      – Ksenia

      1. Ksenia,

        It has been almost 8 months since I experienced the stroke and my right side is still not back to normal. My shoulder has remained slightly “frozen”, the tingling/numbness in right arm, right foot, and right side of mouth is always present, and I have developed intermittent pain in my hip. You would not know if you met me that I have had a stroke, and although it is a daily struggle, I am taking this episode as a challenge to work through and continue doing the projects I need to do . Don’t put up with anxiety. Spend some time with “hope and help for your Nerves.” It is a book that has been around for years and its advice will take care of your anxiety. You’ll recover in time. Keep working on whatever your symptoms are. Keep in touch. It’s lonely business, recovering from a stroke! That’s why it is so reassuring to read about others who are making the same journey.

  59. I’m a 33 year old woman who had a left VAD between the C1-C4 along with three Mini strokes. Cause of the dissection was a ride on splash mountain at Disney world in May 2014. I’ve just been told I can go off the blood thinners and my dissection is almost gone.! My Neurologist has no concerns there will be a full recovery of the dissection, however has referred me to a vascular surgeon for early January. Has anyone else been asked to see vascular dr after ? Just unsure as to why I need to go if the VAD is almost healed.

  60. Think the severe dizziness was about a month and then gradually improved. Its almost 7 years on and now I only get dizzy when really tired or getting off trains and buses. They explained to me that the part of my brain that controls balance was damaged by the stroke and other parts of the brain took on the role as I recovered. Don’t think your son had a stroke so hopefully will recover faster than I did. Also my right foot felt very cold etc but suddenly got better a few months ago! Things continue to improve. Best wishes for the holidays.

  61. Monica, sounds like your son is going through the same as I did, I walked a few steps after 10 days but my balance was very bad. I went home after 2 weeks when I could manage stairs but was readmitted when a MRI showed something of concern, that turned out to be nothing. It is amazing how rest will help his recovery, and patience. I did Pilates to help my balance, it does still cause problems when I am tired but mainly I am fine.

    1. Thanks for your response Sarah, how long did the dizziness remain? I am frustrated with his doctor and the neurosurgeon, both giving limited information regarding recovery. They simply repeat he is lucky to be alive. It is helpful for me to connect with folks who have suffered a VAD, helping me in my support of him through his healing journey. Best wishes for this festive season. Monica

  62. Reading your blog and the many folks that have shared their trauma and recovery has given me hope for a full recovery for my son, age 36 years. He suffered a VAD on December 8th and has been in the hospital since. He is continues to suffer from a chronic headache, blurred vision, poor sensation on the left side (always feels cold on the left side), pain in the left arm and leg, and cannot walk do to poor equilibrium. Having said all this, he is improving, but the ability to walk more than a couple of shaking steps has not. I am going a bit crazy with the number of different drugs that are being administered as I am not sure the medical doctor knows what to do. I have read all the postings carefully, but cannot find anything specific to rehab and the possible length of stay. This causes him additional sadness as his daughters are 2.5 years and 2 months and he wants to be home with them. I greatly appreciate that you’ve created this blog. thanks so much, monica

  63. I was diagnosed with a VAD in April, after having numbness, balance and walking problems. On the MRI they were never able to actually see the dissection. All that was seen was the thrombosis and the aneurysm. This could be because of a few things. One, the outer wall of the artery did not tear, only the inner layers. This would cause pooling of blood in that location and would cause thrombosis to accumulate, the artery develops stenosis, blood flow stops and the symptoms noted above would occur. Two, the thrombosis was called “age-indeterminate”. This means the tear could have occurred long ago, or was many small tears over time. This could mean the outer wall tore sometime ago and the dissection would no longer show up on an image because it has healed, leaving only the thrombosis and aneurysm to be seen.
    My thrombosis lingered for 6 months, the neuro wanted me to stay on Coumadin, but I knew it was inhibiting my ability to heal. So, I sought out a naturo-chiropractor (I know, I know, the evil chiropractor). He was very aware of VADs because he has to know how to avoid giving one to a patient. He put me on a 60-day diet and supplement program that has really gotten me back to full health. If anyone is interested in learning of this, I highly recommend it.
    I’ve just this week started doing yoga again. I did a downward dog!! Moving forward thanks to enzymes.

  64. Hi All.
    Thank you all for this blog.
    I had a dissection (no stroke) in august while cross fit training. I had a server headache in the back of my head. Had no other symptoms so just when home thinking it would pass. The headache and head pain continued and when I saw a doctor he recommended that I see a manual therapist. I saw a chiropractor the next couple of months which of course was not helping me. In november I saw a neurologist who was convinced that it was dissection and was CT scanned 3 months after the incident. The result is that the dissection is no longer showing as it has probably healed in the meantime. It all looks fine on the scan. I take no medicine apart from aspirin now and then. My problem is still headache /-pain and occasional a bit of neck pain. These symptoms worsen when I train/exercise especially the day after. I am not worried that I will have another dissection but I bothered by the headache and wonder if it will pass at some stage? It has now been 4,5 month. I still insist on training even with the pain. If anybody have any knowledge about headaches in the aftermath of dissection or have a similar experience regarding would you please post. Thanks in advance.

    1. From the information I’ve gathered from my Neurologist and a VAD support group I’m in, raising your blood pressure up too high while you have a dissection can further damage the artery. So it’s better to layoff the cardio at first. And my Neurologist also said not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk.

      However my dissection happened only about two months and half ago. It sounds like you’re much farther along. However I’d still be cautious if you still have symptoms. I’ve been told when I do start exercising again to start slow, not get my heart rate up too high, and to start with like an elliptical or stationary bike, which is much smoother. And if I have any symptomatic setbacks to scale it back, but if I feel OK to gradually increase it. But baby steps are the key.

      1. Hi Jack.
        Thanks for posting.
        As I write I am not “having a dissection” as the CT scan is not showing any dissected artery now 4,5 months after my incident. This is why I am cleared for training. As I understand it the arteries normally heal by themselves in 3-6 months in most cases. However many patients still rapport headpain/-aches in the (previous) affected area for even longer time even sometimes years after. If anybody has this experience I would like to hear about it – also if activity/sport has worsen their symptoms? Thanks in advance. I am wishing all a speedy recovery.

        1. Hi Niels:

          That is great news on the recovery.

          I am 1 year and 18 months out of a cerebellum and brain stem bleed and I also had a clot on my basil artery. I also had a VAD on the right which was probably caused by the clot in the basilar artery. My problem is walking and my balance, which are getting better but not fully recovered. If you have any hints to recovery I will be very grateful. I work out in the gym 3 times a week and do physio exercises every day. I swim 3 times a week. Thanks, lisa

          1. Hi all,
            Great to hear that you are all making great progress. I had a VAD and brain stem stroke in August and still having slight problems with balance, voice and tremor in left arm. My artery has still only healed by 50%. I am seeing a SALT and doing pilates which is greatly helping. I am a physio so have been doing my own exercise programme too – I would suggest for those of you who have been saying balance is a problem that pilates or seeing a physio might be beneficial – at least asking their advice as to whether they feel they can help.
            Happy Christmas and New Year to you all – keep posting as it is so great and reassuring to see how people are progressing and doing so well!

          2. Sorry me again! Just thought that some of you may not know what SALT stands for – it stands for speech and language therapist!

  65. Dear Friends, I had a VAD in march 2013, and It has totally resolved now. part of my right cerebellum was affected and my balance was the only thing affected. I had problems mentioning my balance and he more activities I did the sober I recovered. I am perfectly normal and I am playing soccer with no balance issues. I started playing soccer one month after my stroke and I had difficulty with balance in the beginning . I was told than in 6 month you may not even realize that you have had a VAD. Now I play soccer or ride my motorcycle perfectly without any balance issue. However there is one problem that I hope someone can help me with. I am a practicing dentists and when i bend my head to the right to look in the patient’s mouth, I experience a brief moment of incoordination when I lift my head. The problem is that I am afraid that when I get older I will have balance issues. It is so minor that no one but me can notice this. How can I get my coordination back 100 percent??. I believe that My balance and coordination is 93-94 percent of what it should be and it is the only thing in life that I wasn’t to get back now.

    Hope you all continue to enjoy good health

  66. Thanks guys.i took a week off work and went back as I could feel myself sinking into depression.i think it’s the best thing for me to take my mind off neck still aches and feel full of pain just tension.6 months can’t come quick enough for me to have another mri.although my neurologist has said mri will always show a trauma even if it’s still getting headaches and am bruising so easy with the asprin.

  67. Have (did) any of you exercised during your recovery? I was running a lot before the dissection. But since it I haven’t done anything, and don’t really want to be totally inactive through the entire recovery period.

    Is it safe to do some light cardio? Jogging, or maybe the stationary bike? And when is it safe to do so?

    1. Hi all,
      Just wanted to give an update as I think it would help all the new people in their recovery. I had a VAD on March 1 with no stroke. Prior to this I was healthy 50 year old who had a VAD from extended my hair back in the sink at a hair salon. Won’t be doing that ever again.. Now I lean forward over the sink. It has been 9 months now. The first 4 months I had bad headaches along with head pressure , cloudy, foggy, and dizziness . Was treated with Coumadin and aspirin. Took nothing for the pain except tylenol. I did nothing for 3 months but rest, needed to sleep propped up with 2 pillows. I just walked around the block twice a day. I wasn’t allowed to go on a 3 hr car ride until 2 months. At 3 months I started a 2 mile walk daily at a slow pace. Finally at 5 months went back to work even though I had daily headaches and pressure but nothing like the first 4 months. Would take either Tylenol, Motrin or Fiorcet. Now at 9 months I still have daily headaches. It’s my new norm. I only take an occasional Tylenol,or Motrin. I try to get plenty of sleep and keep myself hydrated. I walk 2 miles daily now at a quick pace if weather permits or ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes. I m very careful with my neck. Still get nervous with any pain or any weird sensation in my neck. . Would love to lift weights again and do Pilates but it’s too risky as it affects the neck. I’m just grateful everyday now and try not to get stressed out.

  68. What meds are you (or did you) taking for headache or head pressure? My symptoms are more pressure in my head and dizziness. My Neurologist gave me Amitriptyline but it made me more dizzy. Then I tried Nortriptyline but had trouble sleeping on it. Now she wants me to try Depakote. But after reading the side effects, I’m scared to take it.

    What’s worked best for you all?

    1. Hi. I am on Amitriptyline and Lamotrigine. I have just started reducing the lamotrigine as it was reducing my cognitive function (memory and word retrieval) as the consultant felt it was more the medication making it poor rather than the stroke. I was initially put on another drug but the side effects seemed dreadful when I read them and the Lamotrigine did not appear as bad. I certainly seem better and the medication appears to be working as it does stop the migraine/headache pain but I still get numbness of the left side of the face and shaking arm at times which is thought to be part of the migraine rather than the stroke. Hope that helps.

    2. I am 14 months post vad and stroke and I’ve been on Lyrica for the past year. Very few side effects, one of which has been weight gain. I can’t say appreciate that but can deal with it. 🙂
      I don’t know if it works for everyone but it really diminished the nerve pain for me. All other pain seems to be muscular for me because I am still so guarded, but not taking meds for that piece.

      1. So Shannon… You still have symptoms 14 months later? Have they subsided at all, and if so how quickly did you start feeling better? I was just diagnosed a couple weeks ago, so I’m anxious to start getting better.

        1. Hi Jack,
          Sorry if i worried you. It sounds like, from most posts, the pain doesn’t stick around this long.
          I do still have it, but my neuro thinks most is muscular. I tried a few times in the last 6 months to wean myself off of the lyrica but after about 2.5 wks I’d feel the pain in the back of my head and over my ear again ao I went back on. The pain isn’t unbearable but psychologically I kept thinking it was happening all over again so the stress wasn’t worth it. Since lyrica isn’t habit forming and fibromyalgia patients stay on for years, my doc said to stop pushing it until I can get off of it with no pain.
          I hope that helps!

  69. I’m a 33 year old female who had a tia 2 weeks ago.i had been suffering neck pain to the point I couldn’t move my neck.went to my gp who didn’t even look at my neck just assumed it was a pulled muscle.i did have 1 major headache which was all in the back of my head with vomiting.3 weeks later I had the tia.i lost all movement in my right side including speech.headache and horrendous screeching.when I 1st got to a&e they treated me for a a&e I had severe vomiting n sweating along with the stroke symptoms. The day after I had severe vertigo and sickness and couldn’t lift my head.after a mri I was told I had twisted the artery in the back of my neck causing it to be inflamed.resulting I’m blood not passing through just clotting n breaking off.ive been told 3 to 6 months healing time and in meantime I’m on asprin to thin the absolutely petrified of it happening again or even suffering a full blown afraid to lift my 2 year old or even and again I still get slight numbness in my arm.but no other effects from the tia just anxiety n tiredness.

    1. So sorry to hear about your situation Kelly. I know it’s scary. I’m currently recovering from VAD, and I can testify that the anxiety makes the experience many times worse. All I can recommend is to take hope that it WILL get better with time… The experiences on this site are a testimony to that. Find ways to take your mind off of it, and try to stay positive. Sometimes that’s impossible to do, but when I am able to do it, I feel a million times better.

    2. Very similar to my experience, mine was a full stroke. As already said, it takes time and will get better altho I must admit the odd worry does still pop into my head 6 years on. I’ve had 2 babies since the stroke
      and have just started playing netball which makes me feel great. And last week I suddenly got sensation back in my foot that I lost due to stroke! Please rest, relax, enjoy your 2 year old, and things will get better.

      1. Hi Sarah it was really nice reading your story and I am encouraged. I am 31 years had stroke on Left PCA because of Bi VAD on February 1, 2016. I still have stiffness on right side and a little problem with my eyesight. I am planning for a baby just wanted to know from you how safe it is? Whether you experienced stiffness in the body after stroke? How much time it took for the stiffness to go? Thanks

    3. You sound you are making good progress. I had mine in August and like you they thought it was just migraines and took several days to realise it was a VAD. I am still getting tired easily and my GP has said that she would think that will remain for a few more months. I think everyone is anxious after which is only to be expected. I am still on medication for the migraines which I still have especially when I am tired and then my speech becomes very husky and I have word retrieval problems. I guess it depends if you had a stroke and what part of the brain was affected. everyone seems to have had something slightly different. Good luck, take it easy and rest and enjoy your little one

  70. Hello everyone,

    It is great to hear everyone’s success stories. I was diagnosed with VAD (no stroke) just yesterday, after weeks of head pressure and dizziness. Now I am taking Plavix and Aspirin and taking it easy.

    Question: How long did it take your symptoms to subside? And how long did a full recovery take?

    1. For me (see my earlier posts) it took a couple of weeks – a lot of it I think was psychological; It was hard to relax my neck muscles and start to turn my head normally again. I still took it very easy and didn’t push it too much until 6 weeks (the normal healing time for most parts of the vascular system within the body, 6 weeks is also used as a general healing time for surgery too). I did find that wearing a soft neck brace helped me relax and stopped the pain – that might be worth a shot.

    2. Thanks Peter! I think a lot of my symptoms are psychological too, as I’ve been pretty anxious about all of this.

      This probably a dumb question, but is there any hard laying on the back of my neck or head, since I understand that’s where the dissection is, and therefore doing so would be putting pressure on it? What other precautions did you take?

      1. I know exactly what you mean, every twinge, headache or hint of any pins and needles or numbness starts to freak you out. I couldn’t say for certain what would be likely to cause more harm but can only speak from my experience; the vertebral arteries actually run up inside your cervical (neck) bones – see – so they are mostly protected from any pressure on your neck from the outside (unlike your carotid arteries in the front of your neck for example, which are exposed and at the front). Personally I would try and avoid anything that would result in any major neck movements, try and reduce sudden movement, and definitely avoid hyperextension (moving past a comfortable range). This is what I did and gradually began to relax more as time went on. After 3 months I resumed all normal activities.

        Do you have any suggestion or any events that are thought to have caused the VAD initially?

        1. We don’t know for sure, but a little 2 and a half months ago I started seeing a chiropractor (including neck adjustments), and developed a bad cough where I was coughing pretty hard to get mucous up. We suspect either or both of those were the cause.

          Another strange symptom is that I’ve been losing weight unintentionally the last couple weeks. DR’s couldn’t find anything to cause that, so it may just be due to anxiety and not feeling well. Any idea if that’s a symptom of VAD?

  71. I’m a 44 yr old wife and mother to 2 sets of twin boys. Just within this past year i completely changed my workout and training routine adding crossfit and running and i really felt i was just about getting into the best shape of my life. I knew i was pretty hard on my body, got some pain in my jaw kind of by my ear. Thought from all the recent running i was ” out of wack” and even thought i really dislike them, i figured quickest fix………cervical adjustment. 10 seconds after my adjustment its like a gun went off in my head. Its black. I collapse. Im in pain. Sweating. When i could see the floor was shuffling. it was so scary i remember thinking ” is this what dieing is?” When the chiro got me off the floor it was like i was drunk? Hungover? In severe slow motion!? All of the above. He kept saying i was stressed and it was my sugar. After a half hour i knew i wasnt right so i said call my husband. He got me, we went to med express, they said you have vertigo even after all i told them. Went home and slept! A LOT!!!!! headaches. Went to family doc 4 days later. She did tests. Ordered MRI mentioned the word stroke. 3 days later before scheduled MRI my dad took me to ER. Had ct. They see dissection and spot on cerebellum. I’m being transported and hour and a half away to a vascular and neuro surgeon. Had a VAD. And stroke. Praise god no stint. End of long story. This happened on Aug 21. It’s now Nov 9. I go back for 3 month check up at end of the month. Im on a restricted lifestyle. Nothing that elevates my heartrate. It’s extremely frustrating but praise got its only temporary. I was completely fine until my adjustment!?!?!?!? Anyone ever hear of this? they say a 6 mos recovery. Trying not to live in panic mode but somedays it’s a challenge. Having neck pains and a loopy feeling on top of fatigue! But bigger picture……im alive and thankful!

  72. Just to say it’s good to see lots of positive stories here. I had a VAD and stroke 6 years ago, no specific cause identified. I returned to work after 5 months and since had 2 children, and am about to start playing netball again.

  73. I had a unilateral VAD on April 10, 2014. I have had two follow-up MRI/MRAs and they show continued reduction of blood flow in the right vertebral artery. I have been on Coumadin since the event and now want to switch over to nattokinase. Does anyone have any experience with this, both in terms of how they switched without complications and if they had improvement in arterial function on nattokinase?
    There is no solid research to show efficacy in either Coumadin or nattokinase for VADs.

  74. I am a 45 year old healthy women. I had a left sided VAD about one week after my husband and children and I had visited Six Flags in Chicago. I felt tired after the roller coaster ride and an odd sense of smell inside my sinus area, although not until the next night. The week after we got home and got up that morning to get our children ready for school, I had a weird brown spot move accross my vision on the left side. When I proceeded to walk, my body was being forced to the right and was extremely dizzy. My husband thought just I was tired, I began to pray Gods Word over my self. I knew something was very wrong. I started throwing up violently and it persisted. I started to see white dots everywhere and was becoming severly dehidrated. We finally called and ambulance and the vomiting persisted and I could not physically get my body off of the floor.

    The ambulance took me to the nearest hospital. The admittance secretary and the nurse that was assigned to me, couldn’t have been more…..uncaring and unconcerned. After being there for six hours and one CT scan, the doctor on staff attributed my sickness to vertigo. I was sent home w, an anti nauseau medicine and a vertigo drug. I was able to rest that night.

    The next morning before I opened my eyes, I got a strange sensation of a black sphere type zooming into my head. I opened my eyes and tried to hold myself up with my hands/arms. I was strongly pulled down onto the bed on my left side. I started throwing up violently again side ways, not having the ability to lift my head off of the bed. As I looked up the ceiling was on the floor, the room was scanning and not in correct position. My husband grabbed a cold cloth to put around my neck. He encouraged me to calm down, and that it would pass. After all I had medicine and had already been diagnosed with vertigo. (Incorrectly) After two full days of this, I could no longer sustain. That Sunday night, I called an ENT that my sister had recommended and she was amazing. Stated this does not sound like vertigo. Set up an appointment in her office the next day. After testing, she got very serious, which totally took me aback. She had me admitted immediatley. Her reasoning was my left eye was not tracking, AT ALL. She set up an MRI. After results, she stated she truly thought it was a brain tumor, or MS.

    My husband had asked her if I had had a minor stroke. She said that there was nothing minor about it. I had a major stroke, and that I was one heart beat away from death. After the Cardioligist, Vascular Surgeon and Neurologist did the exams, they found it to be a VAD. They attribute it to roller coaster ride at Six Flags. They also stated that what ever stopped the blood from clotting, took care of itself at home. Hallelujah! I know my God and my faith in His Word!

    It has been about seven weeks. I still have therapy twice a week. As well I see an optomitrist for the palsy on the sixth nerve in my left eye. I know I will come into complete healing. It will just take time.

    Thank you for bringing in the importance for an MRA. I have not been advised of this, but will be asking for it.

    The doctor care I received at the other hospital was amazing. I will always be greatful to those professionals that let their human compassion flow through.

    I have heard on numerous occasions that excercise after is very beneficial. I will definately head this advice. As well as choose Life!

    Blessings to you all! Thank you for sharing your heart and benefits of wisdom and action to a healthy long life after VAD.

  75. I just suffered a VAD this past Saturday and am now home from the hospital recovering. I have a 90% blockage in the vertebral artery which may need a stent. I am 27 years old, a special ed teacher, and currently on medical leave which I heal from this.

    For anyone that has had a VAD, how do you cope with the residual neck pain? Almost a week later, I still feel like I can barely move my neck. I would appreciate any advice on what to do in the immediate aftermath of a VAD.

    1. Hi Kerri,

      I had neck pain reducing my range of motion to barely 45 degrees in the week before I was diagnosed, this subsided after a week or so. I wore a soft neck brace for a few days to allow my neck muscles to relax – them cramping up was causing most of the pain, which I believe may be a natural reaction by the body to restrict movement and promote healing. It took a while to convince myself to relax and start to move my neck normally again, so probably very much a mental thing as well as physical.

      Are you on medication to avoid clots? I had a reasonable restriction in one of my arteries and a small one in the other – I have a follow up on the 2nd Oct, after which I will update my original post to this blog

      1. Yes I also had neck pain before the diagnosis and it resolved after about 10 days to 2 weeks. I have to say I was quite wary of moving my neck for a while in case I did more damage. However, I seem to be able to move it quite well now. My consultant didnt want me to drive for 4 weeks because of the turning of the head and risk of an accident causing a whiplash. i am also not allowed to swim until the MRI scan shows its healing due to the flexion and extension movements of the neck. I am having my follow up scan next week and am hoping that it shows it is healing. I however, still get migraines but not sure if that is due to the fact that I have had to run around alot and have a lot of stress at the moment as unfortunately my father died last week. I will let you know my results – fingers crossed the VAD is healing!

    2. I have had neck tension and pain for years. I have relieved it with sometimes aggressive massage, chiropractic, yoga and stretching with varying results. Now that I have a VAD, possibly caused by one/some of treatments, I have had to, at least, interrupt and in some cases, eliminate every one of these treatments. While I was still unable to do any of them, I turned to acupuncture, that I was, thankfully, able to get through my HMO plan, but only for 12 treatments. It has been so perfect for the “VAD recovery” level of activity that I was at for 8 months, that now that I am able to do more of these other ones again, I am going to definitely find an alternative acupuncture place and continue with it even though I have to pay out-of-pocket. It felt really nice the way the needles would clear the pain and would last for days.

  76. Cheers Cassie – I saw that you had written that you had been cleared for all activity which is great news. Did your neurologist clear you immediately or after a few weeks/months? I’ve been out walking and I don’t feel sick, just a bit nervous because of the visual defect. Don’t know how running will be though… My mum has ripped up the race number for the half marathon I was supposed to be doing tomorrow so I won’t be tempted! Working out on a treadmill sounds like a good idea, maybe safer than going out on the roads at the moment. Hope it goes well for you and your dizziness improves. Thanks for your message, Nx

    1. Naomi – sorry for the late reply. My neurologist cleared me pretty much as soon as I left the hospital. (I was there for four days.) I then met with him about a week and a half after that. Interested in how you feel when you start jogging! For me and how my stroke affected me it just seems like a lot of retraining, so I think I just have to do it and the awkwardness/sick feeling will start to go away. I’m sure you’ll be back out there jogging soon!

  77. Thanks Michele. I guess I will just take it easy, and maybe do some exercises like you. It’s so frustrating! However, I do realise how lucky I am to be in a position where I want to go for a run already. I spent a day on a stroke ward where I was the only person who could wash and feed myself – that really put things into perspective for me… Hope your next scan goes well and you can get back to your swimming soon.

  78. Hi all,

    Great site and glad to see that most people are recovering well. I was diagnosed with a left VAD last Thursday. We are attributing it to a whiplash injury from cliff diving about three weeks ago.

    The night before the major event I woke up with left sided neck pain and had to take a painkiller, but I had had mild neck pain for about a fortnight. The next day I went to the hairdresser and as I stood up to leave I felt very light headed and nearly fell over. I felt very disorientated and then when I went to pay, I realised I couldn’t see the card machine in my left periphery. Over the next hour I developed numbness in the left side of my face and my left arm felt a bit clumsy.

    I am medical so I actually guessed I had dissected. I went to A&E and they did a CT which ruled out a bleed and showed a stroke in my temporal lobe. The MRI confirmed a left VAD the next day. I have been started on high dose aspirin for six months.

    I still have a patch missing in my peripheral vision and my face is numb, but luckily nothing else seems affected. I do have a pulling sensation over my left neck which I attribute to the dissection. They have no plans for a follow up scan at the moment.

    When did you guys get back to exercise? I was supposed to be doing a half marathon next week and in October, but I think they are off the cards but was wondering when people began jogging again? As I am not getting another scan I’m not sure how to risk assess it!

    1. Hi Naomi
      I had my VAD 5 weeks ago and I have been told that the only exercise I can do is walking until my next MRI to show that the artery is healing. I have been told to do a little more each day which I have been doing and am now up to 2 miles.
      I do leg exercises with 1KG weight in lying just to maintain strength in my legs as I have had lots of orthopaedic ops on my knees for recurrent dislocation. My left arm and leg were affected initially although the strength has returned . I am a physio so I have to practice what I preach! I am not a runner but I normally swim 3 -4 times a week so cant wait to get back to that!
      Hope that helps. all the best Michele

    2. Hi Naomi. I had my VAD and two strokes mid July, and my neuro cleared me for all activity as I feel comfortable. (I am also just on high does aspirin.) I’m feeling kind of the same though, and I would love to start jogging as well. I just had a baby, and it’s how I’ve always gotten back to a healthy weight (and good stress relief) 🙂 When I jog (chasing after my kids) in short spans I start to feel really dizzy. Even walking fast with my husband through the store or something is not the easiest. I have been planning on starting some fast uphill walking workouts on the treadmill this week and see how it goes. I feel like it will just take getting used to, so I just need to do it. I would imagine with your lack in peripheral vision it might be hard not to feel sick when running? Hope you feel more like your self soon and can get back to running! (My husband is doing a 1/2 marathon tomorrow! :))

  79. Wow, what an amazing read !
    I’m 36 and healthy but had a vad 5 days ago during a game of cricket. So far I have most of my physical skills back but am suffering from head/neck aches and am very lathargic. It’s great to read so many positive recovery stories as I’m very worried about the future!
    I hope hope the headaches go soon and that I can resume a normal life.



  80. August 20. 2014
    Firstly can I say as others have done how brilliant and comforting it is to read everyone’s stories. My own story started back in July while in holiday and I went snorkelling. I became very sea sick for 45 minutes and then had pain in my neck and headache. As I have had alot of neck problems in the past and had 2 discs fused, I thought it was related to that. I then went away again to take my son to tenerife as he was working there and then went back to work On The first day back the headache became unbearable, my speech slurred and I went to casualty. They did MRIs but the VAD was missed. I was sent home being told it was a bad bout if migraines. The pain didn’t improve, i started having symptoms in my left arm abd leg and it was only after my husband asked for the scans to be re checked a week later that it was found. I was rushed then to hospital and put on heparin. I am now on rivaroxban one of the newer types of anti coagulants as well as anti migraine tablets and pain killers. I was discharged from hospital 10 days ago. The function on my left side has refurned to normal and headaches have improved but come back if I do too much or get tired. I then become light headed too and my voice becomes husky and quiet. i also have problems still with word retrieval. I am nowTaking small walks as instructed by my neurologist but l am not sure how much to push myself or do or if I will cause further damage. I try and rest as soon as I get tired or the headaches return but I can’t seem to find a time to stop before that happens. I seem to have good snd bad days My next scan is in 5 weeks and I just hope like others that it will show healing of the vertebral artery. Thank you so much to everyone who has written as it really is great to know you are not alone.

  81. I cannot tell you how happy I am to find this site. I have been struggling with fear and anxiety, and my husband can only understand to a point having never been through this himself. I am 29 years old and was diagnosed with VAD on 7/11/14.

    I gave birth to our second child, a baby girl, on 6/3/14. Since the delivery, I was suffering from headaches (and I never got headaches before). The headaches kept getting worse. Eventually no mediciation could ease the pain, and I was unable to sleep (which is even more exhausting when you have a newborn!).

    I decided to go to the ER; they diagnosed a tension headache and sent me home with a muscle relaxer and pain medicine. The following morning after taking the muscle relaxer, I had a severe reaction and was taken back to the ER by ambulance. This time they did an MRI which came back clear. The ER doctor said he’d never seen a reaction like this to a medicine (I couldn’t open my eyes, my face was numb, I couldn’t move, I vomited twice, etc. I don’t remember most of this. Once I started to come back around, my one eye would not move with the other. Some doctors believe this was a small stroke, others don’t believe I had a stroke). They sent me home again with a different medication. That evening my eyes started to act up again (convienently at the same time I’m on the phone with my family doctor) so she told me to go straight back to the ER. The doctor was going to send me home AGAIN, but this time a neurologist told him I was not to leave and they would do more tests on me the following morning. That neurologist saved my life.

    He ran an MRA & MRV, and then a CT scan and found a VAD in both arteries. I spent the next 5 days in the ICU unable to see either of my children. I am nursing my daughter so I had to get rid of the milk for 2 weeks because of the medication (but luckily am back to nursing now). It was terrifying thinking of them growing up without me and my husband being left a single parent.

    I am now on Warfarin and still having a lot of trouble getting my dosage. I’ve been getting my blood drawn every day (which is no small task because I have incredibly small veins, so each time is torture for me). I rarely have headaches anymore. My head gets tingly every now & then, and my eyes were very sore for a while (but now I only have vision trouble every now & then). I get dizzy when I look far to each side, or when I stand too quickly from laying down or sitting. I am not allowed to carry anything heavy (including my 2 year old). Every little change in my body triggers panic and I’m afraid I will live in fear forever.

    Thanks to everyone for your stories – it really has helped me to not feel so alone!

    1. Emily,
      I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I am glad to see you decided to leave your story here though. It’s encouraging (in some way) to see someone who is going through something so similar to what I am. Our stories match up so closely. My daughter was born on 6/18/14 and I went in to the ER on 7/16/14.
      I can’t imagine how hard it is to have to have your blood drawn every day and not to be able to lift your little one! I feel like my doctor is just kind of letting me go with one aspirin a day and I can do whatever as long as I feel comfortable. I guess maybe it’s because I already had strokes? And in you (and others I read) they are avoiding you having a stroke? I don’t know. It’s all confusing. 🙂
      Hope you feel better soon and can enjoy your little ones!

    2. Hi Cassie – I did notice how closely our stories match! It is comforting to know I’m not alone with a newborn at home while dealing with this. I am on the bloodthinners so I don’t have a stroke. I have another scan at the end of the month to see how it’s progressing. Do you have any scans in the near future? It’s incredibly confusing. The waiting is the hardest part for me – not knowing if it will have improved any by my next scan. It certainly does help me appreciate being awake for a 3am feeding though!!

    3. Hi, Emily. Sorry I didn’t reply earlier. I do have a scan coming up in December. My neurologist will do a MRA to see if it has healed at all. Did you have your scan this month yet? Hoping they see improvement for you. I have a bad headache today (which is what led me to get on here and start reading dissection stories again. :)). If you ever want to email me (just to talk to someone dealing with similar issues – I know it can be encouraging.) my email is cckifamily at gmail dot com. Take care!

  82. Excited to find this site and read about a lot of other people’s experiences. I am 32 years old and went to the ER 3 weeks ago. I was diagnosed with a VAD and had 2 strokes. My symptoms were some bad headaches for a week or so, which I shook off as dehydration or not eating well, and then I had loud ringing in my ears one night for about 5 minutes. This led to extreme vertigo and my right side became very impaired leading to extreme nausea when I tried to move.
    All my doctors were great though, and I was diagnosed quickly and treated with Heparin while in the hospital. My lasting effects were lack of balance and coordination on my right side. I have improved so quickly though! It seems surreal that I needed help walking less then 3 weeks ago. I have 4 kids 5 and under (included a baby who just turned 4 weeks while I was at the hospital), so we spent 2 weeks at my in laws while I got stronger, so they could help with the kids. I still stumble a bit when not focusing and have a bit of pain in my neck where the dissection is. I have a few other small side affects, and I do have a bit of speech slurring or stuttering when talking fast or can’t find the right word. But really can not complain at all! I am so blessed my strokes only went to my cerebellum.
    Anyway all this to say my neurologist cleared me for all activity! The two things he said anything about was to come see him if I were to get pregnant again and not to go lifting over 100 lbs. Reading all your stories and what your doctors say I’m wondering if I should be more careful though? My main question though is I’m trying to figure out when it is safe to drive. I know it is probably different for everyone. My right leg is still a bit off, so that is my biggest hesitation and when I focus I don’t “tip” but when I’m distracted or tired it starts to happen.
    Thanks again for all your stories! Oh and I see some of you are on stronger blood thinners. My neurologist put me on one aspirin a day – I believe 320 but said I could switch to a baby aspirin whenever.

  83. I’m 33 and week post dx of VAD. I drove myself to ER after experiencing partial blindness in left eye. Prior to ER I had seen pcp for terrible headaches. I was never one to have headaches so decided to go in. Initially prescribed muscle relaxer and aleve. Headaches came and went but wasn’t going to mess with vision changes. MRI results showed dissection and stroke signs. Tough pill to swallow in that of itself but then being told I’m being admitted to ICU was like a bad dream. I’ve never been in the hospital. My closest family is hours away and don’t wanted to worry them as my dad wss having his own medical procedure. I’m an independent person and at that moment I felt defeated. When the doc told me the dissection is a result of trauma or manipulation to the neck all I could think about was the 12 prior chiro adjustments I underwent less than 2 weeks before my headaches started. Obviously the neurologist couldn’t confirm or deny but it sure makes me think. Especially after reading others’ experiences. How do we or can we make the chiro aware of what happened? I had no other rapid head movement or injury. Also was first experience with chiro. Just makes me think?? I had the golden tx of heparin, lovenox, and warfarin. I experience no lingering effects one week post physically. But I do continue to have persistent headaches that worry me and tylenol and gabapentin aren’t touching it. After reading these posts I’m hopeful the pain will resolve along with the dissection. My INR is almost 2. I have been walking and trying to get back in routine. Although the neurologist says there is less than 5% chance of reoccurrence I still like many of you are scared. It’s been a life changer. Thanks for sharing. I don’t feel alone in all this.

  84. Hi All
    I thought I would give a quick update 6 months down the track from my VAD (original post below).
    My balance came back very quickly and i have not noticed any problems with it.
    My right side has gradually retained the ability to feel heat/cold/pain and I would say maybe 75% of that feeling is back (if i transfer a cold glass of water from left hand to right hand I can feel that it is cold but it feels colder in left hand!)
    I was hoping that all would be back to 100% in 6 months but I guess not.
    Other notable changes post VAD include sleeping way more soundly, no headaches at all, constipation (aspirin related?) and bizarrely, I think i have done some serious damage to my right knee when i couldn’t feel any pain!
    Anyway, I would welcome any feedback from those who may have had similar experiences in recovery and I wish everyone well as they move down the recovery path.

    Hi All
    just came across this site and have taken lots of comfort from reading the comments. I am 46 and had my VAD and stroke one week ago. Similar to others not diagnosed correct following CT scan but finally got there with MRI. symptoms included loss of balance and veering to left and loss of pain/heat/cold sensation down right side of body. One week in am already getting sensation back in right arm and balance is better. in fact quite a remarkable change in a week.
    Reading all the comments gives me hope for the future – all the best. SJ Vancouver


    1. Hi SJ!

      Thanks for returning with your update. For six months into recovery after having some significant effects, I’m impressed with your report. Remember, though, I’m not a medical professional. Please keep that in mind!

      I can’t really provide any feedback on your disconnect between levels of feeling from side-to-side, but it certainly makes sense. Having the headaches gone is great news, though, and is similar to what I experienced. I rarely get headaches now. When I do, it’s often from either dehydration or sinus-related. There have been no major headaches like when my VAD and stroke occurred and the weeks directly after (thankfully).

      I hope you continue to improve and the feeling balances out on both sides. Please do keep me (and everyone else here) informed. I’m cheering everyone on. 🙂


    2. Hello everybody. I am now 53 had vad almost 3 months ago (middle august) following 2-3 weeks of headache diagnosed by two GPs and out of hours doc as neuralgea. Oh I’m in Ireland so not familiar with all your lingo. So that was early symptoms, Then partner and I decided a night in Dublin would be good. So I packed my stuff plus nuralex anti inflammatary and cocodomol painkiller as prescribed and headed off for a night of eating drinking and merriment all to excess. ok yes drinking was off the menu As turns out no drink was required as I staggered my way down Grafton street dropping what was in my hands and generally feeling in a bad way. Back to Hotel could not sleep for headache. Didnt take cocodomol but by chance had aspirin which I took instead. No idea why, was like instinctive. And thankfully self medicating Next day packed up for home, two hours drive. Walked into a lamppost on my left on way to car. I slept nearly all journey but I was highly aware of my left hand which was numb but tingly and felt was double size!! So went to emergency department who after a catalog of errors and arguments where my partner pointed neurological symptoms and sending me home again finally three days later gave me MRI and discovered ‘symptoms of stroke’ Whaaa? what do you mean symptoms? Did or didnt have? So you are all warned. This is the real Great British national health service. Three weeks after first symptoms at last some medical intervention. Clexane or heparin you call it.

      So if you are reading this I tell you it is a medicine to put it to page. So how am I after 3 months.. Headaches eased to a 1 or 2, I have itchy scalp, (I don’t think is animals) left arm and hand a bit numb and feels like insects crawling inside, cant figure hot or cold, short memory affected, dissorientation, constant tired, insomnia plus crazy dreams at night. I could go on!!but is now 2-30 am. So thats my story and still in progress. back to work? I dont know when or if. Feel like been told to lie down and get up when you feel better. when? whenever. Thank god for patient loved ones. Get well soon everybody.. Regards Sam

  85. Hi All:

    Thank you all for so many uplifting comments. I had a basilar bleed with clot last year on 27/03/2013. I had a stroke which was massive. I also was diagnosed with diabetes 2. After I spent 3 months in rehab I was shipped to the acute care hospital for a month. During this time I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had surgery just slightly after I was sent there for suspected deep vein thrombosis. When I was in the rehab hospital I was on a maintenance dose of heparin and Plavix. After I had the deep vein thrombosis (I was diagnosed with a huge clot in my left leg and two smaller ones in my right. The stroke left me with the ability to talk but since the bleeding was in my basal ganglia I could not walk on my left side. I left the hospital in a wheelchair but now I can walk unaided in the house. When the stroke happened I had serious double vision. I had a feeding tube in and later graduated for a week to soft foods. After that I could eat whatever I want. The double vision went away after 3 months. Now I only have it in my right eye in the corner when I turn my head. I had a catheter in for 3 months. I think the hardest thing to deal with was the negative talk by the doctors. If any are listening: be careful what you say! I was reduced to tears at times from all the negative talk. I still get nervous and depressed about all that has happened. I lost my job and my ability to move around. A recent scan of my legs showed that only the right leg has a tiny clot left. But the blood clot damaged a vein in my left leg. Recently, after a year of heparin injections I am wearing compression socks and taking Plavix. I don’t know what caused the dissection but probably the chiro treatment I had a couple of months before and a traumatic fall from a ladder, coupled with diabetes and slightly elevated blood pressure (which I have been treated for all along) or the slightly high cholesterol which I have also been treated for were the cause. All I know is that it has just been over a year and 4 month and I am still not back to walking normally like I did. Thanks for Listening.

    1. Hi Lise,

      Wow! You’ve been through a lot, so thank you for sharing your story here. I hope you continue to recover and are able to share updates here periodically.

      All my best to you,

    2. Thanks Mike

      I intend to recover fully and will let you know when I recover. I forgot to say that through this so far I was never in pain and so far, too, have no nauseous or dizziness. Thanks Again, Lise

  86. Oh my. I so wish I had found this site three months ago. I would not have felt so alone. Apparently CAD and VAD are rare enough that you become a bit of a curiosity to a local, small town health community. It does create a feeling of isolation. All of your stories resonate so strongly and parallel my own experience in so many ways. And I thought I was young at 60 to have this happen…..amazed how young so many of you are!
    We were traveling in March when I developed strong allergy symptoms to something that caused a violent cough that over the counter meds did not control well. We kept traveling; I kept coughing. When we got home, the cough subsided somewhat and seemed manageable. I went to a regularly scheduled chiropractor visit (go every 4 to 8 weeks for the past 15 years to manage degenerative discs in my neck which can cause extreme pain in my right arm) and kept going on with life and kept coughing. Another week passed and had extreme pain around my right ear in the jaw area. Thought TMJ and headed back to chiropractor. Extreme pain moved to dull ache which over the following days traveled into my face in the sinus area and, I thought, made my right eye look funny over the weekend. Since I was still coughing, I thought “Aha. A sinus infection” and trotted off to the doctors on Monday. On Saturday had noticed that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I was eating tasted odd and chocolate on Sunday tasted like dirt which seemed very strange. Saw a PA in a different practice who said ‘sinus infection’ and prescribed 2 weeks of antibiotic and cough medicine with codeine. He thought my eye was sinus related and looked at me like I was nuts when I said that sweet things tasted funny.
    On Tuesday and Wednesday, the eye worried me. I drove my husband crazy and he told me to go back to my own doctor. Got an appointment for late Thursday with the PA in my doctor’s practice. She scared me to death when she looked at me and said I had Horner’s Syndrome….drooping eye lid and different pupil size. …and that this was a symptom of something else. She called the ER who told her to walk me over—their office next to hospital. Even being fast tracked it was hours until a CT scan with imaging and then a wait for it to be read. I knew I was in trouble when the ER doc and three nurses came into our cubicle and closed the curtain. The doc explained that I had coronary artery dissections on both sides with the right side worse and that I should be very thankful the PA had recognized what it was (she later got flowers, believe me). Another nurse was rushing in to add massive doses of heparin to my IV while he was talking. They asked me where I wanted to be transferred to and that they had an ambulance waiting….this was at about 2am. They helped me choose a hospital and before I knew it I was getting a kiss from my husband and wheeled out to an ambulance for the 1 1/2 hour ride to the city. Kept telling myself it must not be that bad because I wasn’t in a helicopter. Think I was in shock because I wasn’t crying.
    At the next ER, a team of neurologists was waiting. They all stood around my bed asking questions and making me go through all of the stroke drills over and over. When I didn’t show up with any stroke symptoms, half the group left and the rest drifted away ( I guess I got boring) as they felt I was stabilized. Told myself I must be OK if they left me all alone! The next day an MRI showed no stroke…yippee….and three days later I left the hospital with Coumadin and a new skill set, giving myself Lovenox shots in the stomach. They told me to take it easy so I cut my normal schedule back about half way—–and to take Tylenol for pain. They didn’t say how much pain… times my teeth felt like they were dancing in my jaw on the right side. Tylenol did not touch it.
    Exactly one week later my doctor’s office called with my first INR results and I told them how much pain I was in and where it was……the doc on duty said ‘back to the ER’. The ER doc talked to my city neurologist who said ‘another CT scan and any change, ship her back’. Felt like a ‘hot potato’—-they couldn’t wait to get me off on another ambulance ride….then 5 days in-patient….lots more heparin….did say that the ‘change’ wasn’t a worsening…..Neurontin for the pain which has been a lifesaver. Said it was better for this nerve pain than an opiate. Two months on the couch…being frightened but so grateful to be home….telling myself how lucky I was that it wasn’t a brain tumor and there hadn’t been a stroke.
    At two months the CT scan showed healing going well—major relief. Moved from Coumadin to aspirin shortly after. At three months feeling better but still tired, still some pain if I overdue. Slowly getting back to work but will not ever be at the same pace. This is going to take more time than I thought. Looking for my new normal. Praying that my neck and back behave because I won’t be going back to the chiropractor in this lifetime.
    Sorry I wrote so much. I think you are all incredibly brave. This journey is hard but it could be so much worse in so many ways. Thank you all for being there. I don’t feel so alone anymore!

  87. Hi All,

    Just wanted to share my story so far also – I’m a lean, fit 31 year old male from Brisbane, Australia with no previous health issues.

    On 10th June 2014 I suffered central vision ‘blind spot’ type symptoms for 45min or so following a particularly intensive cycling commute and sitting down at my desk. This eventually stopped and I then had colours / distortions around my periphery for the next 2.5 hours or so I went to eye casualty at the hospital I work at just in case – all visual checks came back clear, as well as stroke checks that were performed (my vision had cleared by the time I was seen). It was suggested it was possibly a migraine, but to check back in if symptoms reoccurred for an MRI. I didn’t think much of it but following this I had neck stiffness and pain as well as a dull headache at the rear of my head – also pain across my left trap muscle when turning my head right. Initially I put it down to after effects of the ‘migraine’. I went to a Physio on the 18th for a massage, which involved some deep tissue massage around my back mostly and a little around my neck, no neck adjustment fortunately. This loosened up my back and made it clearer that I had neck pain remaining. On the 21st I was laying on a hammock at home with my head resting on the left ‘tensioned’ side, playing with my phone when I again had a visual disturbance (slight central vision blind spot again, then colours around the periphery). I had my wife take me to the local hospital around midday, by the time we had done the ~15min drive symptoms had disappeared. Triage suspected possibly a migraine, but I waited for several hours and eventually was given an optic exam again, plus stroke checks and an ECG. All these were normal so a CTA was ordered. Turns out I had vertebral artery narrowing / abnormality in my left artery from C6-C2, and C3-C4 in my right.

    I was immediately put on observation, given 4 x 75mg Plavix (clopidogrel) and 300mg Asprin, plus an antacid (pantoprazole).

    Thankfully I have not had a stroke, but am fearful – taking things a day at a time, I am feeling better as time goes on. I am on 75mg clopidogrel and 100mg asprin daily, plus 40mh pantoprazole. Still awaiting a specialist appointment which I have been referred, albeit chasing it up a couple of times.

    The most likely reason for this initially occurring seems to be a cycling accident on my commute on the 12th May – I ‘tram lined’ along the edge of a footpath avoiding roadworks and lost control, my face hitting the deck on an angle – I wasn’t going terribly fast but was using strapped pedals and couldn’t get out of them in time. I didn’t have any memorable neck pain up until post 10th June headache which almost seems like a long shot but who knows. Following this headache (and previous to) I did 10 high intensity 45km round trip work commutes, which are quite jarring at speed as the bike is very rigid, as well as due to the positioning on the bike looking up and back down is at a difficult angle and a frequently repeated movement. I also did some self massage / back adjustment rolling on a ball up and down my spine / neck – so these could have aggravated it further.

    Thanks to Robert for creating this place we can all share our experiences, and to others for posting. All the best to everyone – I will update with my progress.

    1. I had a follow-up with a Neuro Doctor at PA Hospital on the 2nd October, and was advised to discontinue Clopidogrel (Plavix), but to continue taking 100mg Asprin for 12 months. I was advised I could return to exercising at a high intensity but to ease into it – I have been cycling to work again a couple of days a week. Scans were not ordered as the treatment would have been the same regardless of the findings, but I have a follow up for scans at 3 months following the appt. I have had no more symptoms thankfully.

  88. First of all let me say that I love this blog! I was diagnosed with a left CAD on May 23, 2014. I had been experiencing headaches and eye pain for about a week before it got so bad that I went to the emergency department. previously I went to a clinic and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. During my visit to the ED they gave me some pain meds and ordered a CTA scan. Since it was the middle of the night, they sent the results to be read by an outside radiologist. They said the results were normal and sent me home. In the morning an in-house radiologist re-read the results and discovered the dissection. I was home sleeping and the hospital couldn’t get a hold of me so they sent the police to pick me up. Talk about freaking me out!!

    I was lucky because I have no evidence of a stroke, although the Dr. said one was inevitable if I hadn’t come to the ED. I was admitted for 5 days and was treated with heparin/coumadin. I’m still on coumadin and have a follow up CTA scan in August. I still have some headaches, tinnitus, and pupil differences, but feel much better.

    The Dr.’s were not able to pinpoint the cause of my dissection, but said it was probably due to years of high blood pressure. I’m on 3 new meds for my blood pressure to get it under control. For those reading this blog please stress to others to listen to their bodies and also understand that high blood pressure is serious and needs to be treated.

  89. Hi everyone. I revisit this site every month or so to see what everyone is going through. In Sept ’13, at 32, I had a left VAD and stroke after an emergency appendectomy surgery. Nurses think the intubation from the surgery is probably what caused my dissection but no one knows for sure. I was on coumadin for 3 months, now on baby aspirin and lyrica (for the nerve damage/pain). I still have pain in my head and neck, even though it’s been 8+ months. Wondering if anyone else has pain still? It’s keeps me from getting back into a regular exercise routine and I still get anxious pretty often. Plus, I just want to get off the lyrica! So glad you all made it through and wish you all the best (and no recurrences!)!!

    1. Shannon, I am not sure if it is normal, but my VAD was in December 2012 and I still occasionally feel pain around the same location. I seem to notice it more when I am stressed or if I have recently thought about my VAD experience. My neurologist seemed to think that this was normal, but it still scare the hell out of me when it happens.

  90. This is an amazing blog. It’s funny how you never think you will do something until you actually do it – like post a comment on a blog. However, I was diagnosed with CAD last week and was compelled to share my story by reading the many helpful comments posted on this blog.

    The symptoms started about 4 weeks ago with the sudden lost of taste, neck pains, headaches, and tightness in my face. I was a track & field athlete in high school and college thus I never encountered any pain that couldn’t be alleviated with a pill. So I attributed my symptoms to a possible sinus infection and purchased a box of Advil Cold and Sinus and called it day – I knew it would run its course. I felt a little better over the next few weeks but my taste never returned and the headaches and neck pain lingered. One day last week I was awaken by a splitting headache at 3am which of course I ran for the Advil Cold and Sinus box as I thought it was time for another dosage. At 10am I still had the headache and I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist at the suggestion of my mother-in-law (an RN for about 50 yrs).

    The Doc ordered an MRI of my Brain, Neck, and Spine; and an MRA of my Brain and Neck based on the MRI results. The MRA confirmed the CAD of the right artery. The Doc placed me on a Plavix and aspirin (325) regimen for the next six months and has restricted me from any heavy physical activity for this period. He ordered MRI/MRAs in 3 months to check the progress of the artery.

    Here are some important pieces of information I would like to past along: 1) The Doc said that I was a few days away from having a stroke if I didn’t come in for the MRI/MRA – so make sure to listen to your bodies and see the doc if you have the above prolonged symptoms; 2) The Doc said that CAD is very rare. He wasn’t looking for it when he ordered the MRI and my primary care physician probably would have diagnosed it as a sinus infection, gave me a Z pack and sent me home – so make sure to see a neurologist and request an MRI/MRA; 3) The Doc said that the CAD could have been caused by blunt trauma to my neck prior to the onset of the symptoms. Prior to the CAD I was seeing a personal trainer once a week that would put me through several sets of rigorous workouts including giant tire flips, rope pulls, kettle-bell presses, etc. It was shortly after one of these workouts that the CAD symptoms began to set in – so go easy on yourself in the gym and be sure that your personal trainers can demonstrate proper techniques for strenuous exercises to avoid tearing or rupturing anything; 4) I felt angry and depressed when I first discovered that I could have been the cause of my own injury by pushing myself so hard at the gym. I have always been a good athlete and taught the more I pushed the better the result – “no pain no gain”. Well the reality is, I just turned 45 on June 1 and I am not that young crazed athlete anymore that could jump off a building, land on 2 feet, and run 10 miles home. No, I am that 45 yr old athlete with a different body that requires a different type of training. In fact, at my age “pain equals no gain”, and the more I push the worse the results could be. With that said, I am no longer angry and am embracing my new mind set about working out.

    Thanks for letting me tell my story, its part of my healing process. I look forward to returning to physical activity in 6 months (I am an avid golfer – 8 handicap), but for now I will take my docs orders and let the medicine and the LORD do their work!

    I hope this was helpful.

    PS – My wife locked my golf clubs up for the next six months – tough love!

  91. Great article and responses. I had my VAD on March 12, 2014 (40 year old male, non-smoker, fair shape) … Was at work twisted my head the wrong way and next thing you know I was dizzy, slightly slurred speech and “zips & zaps” in my right ear. I had no idea what was going on, just knew something was not right. Luckily we have nurses at work, they were not sure what it was, but called me an ambulance, and it wasn’t until I was in the ambulance explaining to the EMT what my symptoms were that he said it sounds like a stroke to him, he had me doing the finger to nose to his finger, rubbing heals to shins … I got to the ER and the gave me a clot busting injection, “zips & zaps” went away within a few minutes, speech was a little better, was no longer dizzy, just had a little bit of double vision. I was on Lovenox & coumadin for the first week after I got home and got my INR stabilized. I’m still on coumadin at least until the beginning of September when I have my next neurologist appointment. The biggest hurdle I’m still trying to get over is every time I have a slight headache or stiff neck I would feel horrible, so my doctor put me on some anxiety pills, the side effects I’ve had from them have been odd, main one that I went to the ER for was what I would say feels like hot flashes, felt like someone pouring warm water on my shoulders and it ran down to my knees and of course when that happens my heart rate would spike up … it would come and go in seconds. ER said it was most likely my anxiety pills, but ran an enzyme check to eliminate any heart issues, and all tests came back good. But I still can’t shake the feeling that it may happen again. Reading this post and responses has me feeling a little better, but maybe having another scan done that would show me that the VAD has healed may be my best medicine.

  92. I had a VAD causing a stroke on April 25th, 2012. This was aggravated by the fact that I had a PFO which I was aware of, just not aware of the large size if the opening in the heart.
    I had broken my neck at some point in the past, (in my 20s, and I’m now 61) in the maturing and deformation of the vertebrae, the Vertebral artery had developed an extra loop that was / is in harms way. I had three previous strokes that were mistaken as decompression sickness while scuba diving.
    I hope some day to be able to go back to diving, maybe even teaching scuba again, however, even with the PFO repaired, I have been warned about pressure and neck position while diving. So I may have seen my last underwater adventure. (1012 dives, 765 hours under water)
    I am still on plavix, and probably always will be. That is a difficulty for me, as I’ve been an adrenaline freak since I was 13 years old.
    Good luck,

  93. Hi
    Anyone else’s drs test or mention fibromuscular dyplasia a genetic artery disease as the possible cause of their vertabral artery dissection? when i was in the hospital they did an ultra sound on my kidneys and saw some evidence i may have this.
    seeing my nuerologist in seattle for the 1st time since i was released but this is going to take a while to unravel what caused my left vertabral dissection because of this.
    Curious if anyone else experienced this?

    1. Mine was caused from going to the hairdresser. Leaning my neck back in the sink. It has been 9 weeks for me. Still have headache. Some days are worse than others. Lots of pressure in my head. Get lightheaded a lot with activity. Not able to go back to work yet.

  94. I suffered a right VAD on March 1. On Coumadin and baby Asa now. It’s been 5 weeks and I still get lightheaded with any activity. I also have daily headaches. Some days are worse than others. My neurologist at 3 weeks was surprised that I wasn’t back to normal yet. I thought he was crazy for thinking that. I am not able to return to work yet as a nurse feeling this way. Anyone else experience these symptoms and for how long did it last? I’m just assuming I feel this way as the artery hasn’t healed yet. I so want to resume my usual activities.

  95. I had a spontaneous Left VAD on sept.27 /13. I had a sharp shooting pain in my left side of my neck.. I went and sat down then got the spins was about to pass out and laid down on the floor and still had the spins. I got hot and clammy and started getting sick, which continued for 10 min . Then I had a vertigo feeling would make me nauseous. I sat in ER for about 3hrs before a dr looked at me, which I sat in a chair with a bucket and tried not to move! They ended up sending me for a CT scan which they found a small dissection. They admitted me, started me on Plavix and baby aspirin which I stayed in the hospital for 10 . The VAD kept tearing went from my C-V down to C-3 then continued to C-6. They finally let me out of the hospital but to stay on bed rest for a month. I was scheduled for an MRI October 25. Which the dissection had dissected all the way to my aortic arch. Was once again just told to take it easy and not lift, push, pull or strain. January I had another CT scan which is shown some improvement so the neurologist told me to start living life is normal gradually getting back to doing stuff And go off my blood thinners but still take baby aspirin . I Started back at work February 18 which since it started again I have had nothing but head and neck pain. I have had no neurological symptoms as he says so he is not concerned. I have seen a cardiologist Who is concerned that won’t heal on its own ,which I’m now waiting to see a cardiac surgeon. Now eagerly waiting another CT scan at the end of the month here to see how things are going and if I am still showing improvement !! It has been very scary and frustrating not having straight answers and why I’m still having head and neck pain and if it’s safe for me to be back at my job .

    1. Hello everyone.
      I have just been diagnosed with a stroke caused by a right artery dissection. Here’s how it began…
      About 1 month ago I woke up with the worst cramp in my neck but blew it off as just I slept wrong and went to work.
      I then came home and started my normal workout with weights, again ignoring the pain as I just slept wrong. This went on for the next week until one day during vacuuming I got really dizzy and fell up against a dresser. Then I fell up against the wall and thought man am I having a heart attack. No chest pains or lose off breath. Then the room started spinning and I dropped to all fours and started sweating like someone was pouring a bucket of water over my head. I eventually just laid there trying to calm down. (I had a stroke but didn’t know it). Went to hospital and sat for 4 hours and felt better and decided to leave. Still had neck soreness and just used a heating pad. Then driving I had another episode where I felt weak and dizzy so I just pulled into my driveway and had the wife take me to another hospital.
      Here I was diagnosed with a dissection of the artery leading to the cerebellum.
      I was hospitalized for a week on heparin and now I am on Coumadin for 3-6 months. While there I had a MRI and mra and a catheter done through my groin with a HOT die (unreal heat) to view the arteries to the brain. This is scarey as hell because I’m a very active guy (41) and never had any problems. Played football since I was 8, HS and college with no issues. Now I’m scared to move my head and don’t want to go through another stay at the hospital. Physiologically I am depressed as I feel like half of a man scared to death. I despise hospitals so don’t want to relive that 7 days of constant needle sticking and blood draws. 6 months seems like eternity but I’m strong and will get through it. Thanks for this site as it helps to know details of what others have gone through.

  96. Hello
    I am so glad to read these posts as it eases my worry.
    I was diagnosed with VAD and stroke feb. 13/2014.
    About 2 weeks prior to diagnosis I woke up with the WORST headache ever. My neck was also very sore. I managed with Advil for about a week..then and the only way I know how to describe it is my body just melted. I had no control and just fell down. That’s when I went to the ER. A ct scan showed a lesion on my cerabellum. Thankfully, I have no major symptoms of stroke except minor vertigo. I am on platelet medication called clopidogrel.
    I am still having headaches but my neck feels much better. I am trying not to worry and have found much comfort in reading these posts.
    I lead a relatively healthy lifestyle except I am a smoker. Who is desperately is trying to quit!

    Good luck to everyone

  97. I just suffered a VAD on the right side on March 1st only 5 days ago. I’m home from the hospital on Lovenox & Coumadin. I am a healthy 50 yr old who had this happen while in spin class. After the teacher had us rotate our necks at the start of the class I experienced severe dizziness ,neck pain, . Was rushed to the hospital and fortunately was diagnosed quickly with a cat scan and MRI. I did get my hair done a few days prior to the dissection. My hair salon got new sinks that was uncomfortable. Was wondering if that started it.

    I still have neck pain and headache. I was wondering what limitations I should be taken. How long should I be out of work?

  98. Hi Robert… I stumbled upon your site when I was searching to see if I could run with a dissection. I am 38, and have had 3 dissections, but no strokes. About two years ago, I was experiencing excruciating headaches, so my doctor sent me for an MRA and it came back abnormal, so after another MRI showing more of my neck and a CT scan, it was concluded I had dissections in the left and right artery. They put me on coumadin and did MRI check ups every 3 months. At the same time, I was also diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on meds for that as well. (It runs on my dad’s side of the family unfortunately). The two dissections healed after about 9 months and my neurologist warned me that there was a possibility of injuring the area again, so I had to be careful and avoid any situations that compromised my neck. No conclusion was drawn as to what caused the initial injury since I was not in a car accident nor did I experience any type of trauma or pressure of that sort.

    Well, four months ago, I started having headaches again and just this past week after the same routine of MRAs and CT scans, they diagnosed yet another dissection. It is smaller and only on the right, however, again, there was no distinct cause as to why this area was injured again. As I am not a dare devil of any sort and am very conscious of my neck since the first situation. It scares me now, because I like to run and keep in shape and I am fearful of injury again.

    I signed up for a study of dissection patients. It is a stroke doctor who is going to document from now until I am healed, noting any headaches, neck pain, etc that I may experience. Currently, they put me on a new blood thinner, Eloquis, so I do not need to have my INR checked every week, took me off the low-dose aspirin I was on and kept me on the blood pressure meds.

    I am frustrated with the situation and just wanted to share my experience . It is scary to live with a threat of stroke over your head.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.


  99. All:

    I found an open Facebook group on the topic of Carotid Artery Dissection.

    Looks like they have a lot of activity and probably some good information from supportive people.

    AND, there’s a closed Facebook group on the topic of Vertebral Artery Dissection Support Group which you need to request to join. I’ll post an update here if I get accepted in and find out what’s happening there.

    No need for me to start any new groups on Facebook! But I encourage everyone to check those groups out, too. More information and people to share with, the better.


  100. can anyone explain the neck pain they experience…location type etc…suspecting i have a vad have had awful neck to head pain for a while been to chiropractor and am worried..thanks

    1. Hi John,

      Have you been to a doctor yet? If not, please get checked out as soon as possible! If you’ve been to the ER or a doctor already, what did they say? Were any tests/scans run on your head and neck?

      My first symptom was the most awful headache I had ever had. However, I didn’t have any neck pain at the time of my dissection and stroke. My neck pain was more of a dull, tissue pain a bit deeper under the skin, and it only appeared a week or more after I learned of the dissection. I had no adjustments or trauma that caused mine, so, if you had an adjustment from a chiropractor, that may explain the neck pain you feel.

      Hoping for you that this isn’t a dissection and stroke. Be well.


    2. I also experienced headaches first, but quickly got an intense neck pain, both of them before I went to ER and got diagnostiqued a VAD rith side.
      All of this happened 2 months ago, and I remeber at this time I didn’t think of a dissection (I had no idea what it was), I was jut desperate to find someone who could do something for that terrible neck pain…
      I booked a session with chiropractor, but could not handle it that long and had to run to ER meanwhile, hoppefully, cause I guess having your neck manipulated while walking with VAD is nothing recommended !

      So don’t get paranoiac, but go consult if it persists…

      To share my story, I am 27 years old female, good health, ex smoker. Sorry for my english, I am french and will try to write as clear as posible.
      One day, I had was I thought was a comon low pressure episode a morning before going to work : got balance issue, felt cold, began to shake of anxiety, and a little bit more strange: got my vision covered with white huge spots, getting almost blind for several minutes, just seeing white fog around me…

      But on that time, I didn’t worry that much and thought it was all because of stress, so I stayed home this mornig and went back to work on the afternoon.

      And then I had headaches for the next 2 weeks, coupled at the end with a terrible neck pain. I was just taking painkillers, but then one day I began to bring all these elements togheter, and worry that it is NOT normal to have continuous headaches for 2 weeks. So one night during what I think we can call a panic crisis (the moment I began to realize something was going wrong), I decided to head to the nearest hospital (I live in Santiago, Chile).

      They took good care of me and made me the necesary exams, MRI. the neurologist told me the images show a right side carotid dissection. From what I told him, he stated I had a small stroke 2 weeks before and told me I was lucky that it didn’t turn too wrong. But they kept me 4 days in observation at the hospital. Gave me strong painkillers, pills I have no idea what they were, aspirin, etc… and I got better soon so they sent me home.
      I had to stay home 5 weeks, then I made a new image for control, and the dr explained (and showed) me that my carotid was getting normal again. Not completetly done with it, but very good progress though. Then I went back to work, avoiding stress and physical effort.

      I have to say, it was so good to go back to social life ! I couldn´t stand beeing home doing nothing, I was begining kind of a small despression. I first was worried about going back to work after so much time out (5 weeks seems long when you are new in your office…), but the moment I entered the place I felt so released ! I was able to work, people who be nice but no over-careful with me, I could walk and have conversations again…

      I think this is very important in the recovering process : to focus on something else than your health condition, avoid having only time to worry about everything, stop thinking you are going to die every time you feel headache…

      My boyfriend was helping me all this time, stayed with me at the hospital, worked home when I had to stay in bed, etc… He was there to take my hand and patiently listen to my worries, to talk to me whenhever I was having panic about not knowing if I would have a troke or get better any day, to chear me up any time I needed… But he was also pushing me to go back to work as soon as possible . And at the begining I would not understand his reaction and think he would not understand my feelings, underestimate my worries… But he was repeating me it was not good to keep thinking about this all the time, that recidive was were rare, that I should not get paranoiac because it would lead me to a depression. And as I said, he was so right about going back to work, getting activities again !

      2 months later, I still take spirin daily, I still have headaches, I still freak out everytime I go pain somewhere… but nothing compared to the time I was in the hospital or the first week after diagnostic.

      So take time to rest home (receiving friends or compagny in order to avoid beeing left alone), follow your doctor´s recommendations, and keep an eye on your health situation. But don’t give it more importance that it requires, don’t let anxiety getting you down, speak your worries to close friends and you will see improvement soon. KEEP POSITIVE, it really helps !

      Hope my story can help, and hope you all get better soon !

  101. Thank you for creating this site. It has given me comfort to find others going through what I’m experiencing and to hear stories of victory and healing. I am just had my two week CTA scan after being discharged from the hospital with a left intracranial VAD. I’m still in a lot of pain and restricted from doing so many things it feels like my body is attached to an eggshell for a head. Reading the posts here have given me hope that I will lead a normal life again.

    1. Hi Audrey,

      I’m so glad you found the site and find it helpful. I had no idea when I posted my story that it would help others, so I’m grateful to you and everyone else who has commented. Do take care but also be as active as your doctors and your gut feelings tell you to be. I firmly believe that exercise is medicine.

      I hope we get to read an update or two from you as your recovery progresses. I’m hopeful for you.


  102. I suffered a bilateral VAD…with the right side almost no flow. It happened while getting a neck adjustment. This was a year ago …at 6 months was off of Coumadin . I still feel dizzy with fast movement…and when looking left. I had some memory issues and still feel my short term isn’t great. There is a constant swooshing/ringing in rt ear. Has anyone else had these symptoms? Emotionally drained from the fear I may never feel normal.

    1. Hi angel yea I had my heartbeat ringing I’m my left year for about 4 months after suffering my CAD disappeared now though hopefully yours will clear with time

    2. Hi Angel,

      I think everyone’s story is a little different. And I’m so thankful you found the site and shared a bit about what you’re dealing with. I sometimes hear a swooshing in my ear from bloodflow, and I wonder if it’s blood pressure related. Mine symptoms are not constant, though, so I can understand the fear and frustration you feel.

      I hope yours resolves in time like Lyndon mentioned yesterday. Stay as active as you can and keep talking with your physician(s) about how you’re doing. And share any updates here if you can. I know I’d appreciate hearing how you’re doing and think others will too.


  103. I am a 26yr old male. I suffered a VAD and cerebellum TIA after a jiu jitsu class in sept 2013. I’ve since been cleared and have returned to training jiu jitsu. I know there is mixed feeling in the medical world about returning to contact sports, but my doctor explained that artery dissections, overall are rare and re-dissections are rare as well. Im now on daily 81mg aspirin.
    I was wondering if anyone has experience returning to contact sports after VAD and/or stroke?
    Thank You.

    1. Hi Ariel,

      How are things going for you now? I can’t speak to any specific experience with contact sports after my VAD and stroke. I think that I could probably play a contact sport if I wanted. But, I’m a bit older than you (42) and not inclined to take the risk. I would probably think twice about committing to a hard header in soccer (football for the purists out there!), but that’s more of my psychological frame of mind now than any current instruction from my healthcare providers.

      Just know that, even if the risk is low, your first (and hopefully only) VAD and TIA event was caused by something that happened during a contact sport. This isn’t meant to discourage you but to have you be aware of the risk. I hope you live life fully and do everything that you want, including jiu jitsu and anything else.

      If you can, please do check in with any updates. Hopefully someone will be able to answer with their experience returning to contact sports after a dissection and TIA or stroke.

      Best to you!

  104. Hello. I want to thank Robert and everyone who has shared their stories here. I’m 39 years old and was was diagnosed with a spontaneous carotid artery dissection 2 weeks ago after having 2 small strokes. I was fortunate that the strokes don’t appear to have caused any lasting damage, so I just need to focus on the healing of my artery. I’ve gone through a variety of emotions these past 2 weeks and reading the information here has provided a lot of comfort to my husband and I.

    I am curious if anyone ever started a Facebook group that was mentioned previously in this blog? I’d be interested in joining if it was started.

    Thank you again for the information shared here!

    1. SL,

      Thanks so much for sharing here. I hope you’re well on the road to recovery and your artery is healing. Have you had any follow-up scans yet, or is it still too soon?

      I never started a Facebook group. I wanted to, but I also want the group to reach more people than those who use Facebook. Something there would be better than nothing, though, as it’s where so many folks are anyway. I’m glad you asked and will look to see if anyone started a group for artery dissections and stroke yet. If not, I’ll aim to get something going this week. I promise!

      SL (or anyone else), please hound me if you don’t see a comment here about that by Friday afternoon (Feb 28).


  105. hi all i lost my left va during surgery,10 yrs ago which also cuased anuerysm due to compression,ive never had a stroke and go about daily life we all have the same thought ,what next nearly every day but thats only human nature,ive done it for 10yrs,my mind cant rule my symptoms,so i still jump at the slightest twinge lol what a waste of time im still here and never suffered anything serious,you can live with 3 arterys very well im proof im57 control of the mind seems to be the way forward.u all be lucky

  106. Hi Robert thanks for the advice and hope, 6 months for you to be fully recovered with no restrictions is great.
    I have requested our occ health send me for an MRI scan failing that I will refer myself for one privately .
    I realise everyone heals differently especially with this type of injury and I have found it has left some psychological scars.
    Thanks for the advice good luck to everyone

  107. Hi I was diagnosed with CAD in last week of September 2013 possibly caused by chiropractor and surfing. Spent week in hospital only symptoms were horners syndrome and real bad headache on left side of my head. My left eye still looks slightly droopy and feels bit funny was wondering if this could be due to the nerve being still damaged.
    I have been discharged as an out patient, from hospital back in November and am now back training like I was pre CAD I.e. Running gym weights have avoided all contact sports though. I am 38 and a fireman so really worried about being able to return to operational duty!! On light duties at the moment.
    Anyone got any ideas on when I might be fully healed I have no scans planned and have got the psychological battle to overcome.
    I am determined to beat this and return to normal no matter what I have to do or how long it takes.
    Any information would be great as there is a lack of information out there.

    Many thanks Lyndon

    1. Hi Lyndon,

      First, glad you found the site and are back to a good deal of activity. I don’t know how long it may take for your CAD to fully heal, and the only way (that I know of) to track your recovery progress is to have a periodic MRA to show how your artery looks. You probably won’t find much resistance to getting an order for an MRA at some point to determine how well you’re doing. Given that you’re a firefighter, I say get the MRA so you can get back to full duty!

      I think it was within six months of the VAD and stroke that I was cleared for all activity and told I had no restrictions whatsoever.

      Hope this info helps you and you continue on to a full recovery.

  108. Hi All
    just came across this site and have taken lots of comfort from reading the comments. I am 46 and had my VAD and stroke one week ago. Similar to others not diagnosed correct following CT scan but finally got there with MRI. symptoms included loss of balance and veering to left and loss of pain/heat/cold sensation down right side of body. One week in am already getting sensation back in right arm and balance is better. in fact quite a remarkable change in a week.
    Reading all the comments gives me hope for the future – all the best. SJ Vancouver

    1. SJ,

      Thanks for sharing your story here. I hope you have a full and quick recovery. I’m so glad you found the site and it provides some sense of comfort and community. Let me/us know how things are going for you over the next few months.


  109. Hi everyone! I suffered a carotid artery dissection almost 5 years ago when I was 28. My only symptom was a droopy eyelid – in fact I thought I had an eye infection! I only went to get checked out as I was about to go on two months leave to mongolia where health care was lacking so I thought if I needed eye drops I should get them before I went. I got passed around 4 consultants and asked some very strange questions at the eye hospital and that’s when I realised it must be something abit more serious. They informed me I had horners syndrome as my pupil was also non reactive which meant something was pressing in the nerve to my eye. Normally a brain tumor or lung tumor so I was admitted immediately to uch in London ( my consultant is dr werring at queens park square neurological hospital). X-rays and bloods were fine so an mri was done the following morning which showed the dissection and blood clot pressing in the nerve. I was put in intensive care for a week and was immediately heparinised. I was on half hourly neurological obs. Luckily I didn’t have a stroke which I was told was quite rare as symptoms ar so limited normally people only discover once a stroke happens. I was on warfarin for 6 months and after than was advised to take mini aspirin. They think it was caused by a skydive about 2-3 weeks before. I had done several before with no problems though. I was also building a rockery in the garden at the time and shifting heavy rocks so I wonder if that was more likely to be the cause.
    My droopy eye has not fully recovered although it’s better than it was immediately after. It still looks sleepy and is particularly droopy when I am tired. Apparently the nerve was damaged by the clot.
    I sometimes get pain in my neck now which is odd as I didn’t at the time. I wonder if that is more psychological or even that because I am inadvertently trying to protect my neck maybe I hold it in unusual positions with resultant muscle pain.
    My only other ongoing symptom is that I now seem to get migraines after intensive exercise which I never used too- especially after running.
    I was advised reoccurance us very rare but to avoid contact sports such as martial arts and rugby or jarring my neck ie no more skydives and no Bungy jumps and no roller-coaster etc (tho admittedly I went one one this year again for first time). I was also told to be careful about over extending my neck for example at hairdressers in wash basin so to lean forward not back over basin. I was however told riding skiing climbing etc should be ok ( unless you fall lol). I’ve even done ziplining and I just got signed off this month for diving.
    Everyone tells me none if these activities are without risk but that the risk should be low and isn’t really quantifiable so it’s just a question if looking out for any symptoms and being as careful as you can without losing your life.
    Has anyone else scuba dived following their dissection? Also does anyone else get these exercise headaches now and have any suggestions on treating them? I’m assuming the artieries or capillaries don’t dilate properly now or something and Increased blood pressure on exercise is the cause if the headaches but I don’t really know….
    Good luck to everyone!

    1. Wow, Vicky! Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I sometimes still get headaches, but I can’t attribute them to exercise. Even strenuous exercise for me doesn’t induce the headaches. I do, however, feel like my headaches are all inversely related to my level of hydration.

      Please do consult with your physicians about the headaches and, hopefully, they’ll be able to find relief for you.

      Best regards,

  110. I have a quick question. My husband just came home today from the hospital after having a VAD and a stroke. He has been recovering well (age:35) but today is complaining of new pain in the neck – but in the same area. He is describing the pain not like it was before – but more like a muscle pull or tension. Do you know if this is something to be worried about, or is it due to the strain of the stroke/ tear, way he is holding his neck now, etc. thanks so much.

    1. Hi Katie,

      I’ve definitely felt a pain like that. I don’t know if it’s normal or not, so please do have your husband discuss it with his physician(s). It may be nothing to get too concerned about, but you never know. Better to be safe than sorry.

      Best wishes to you and your husband. If you’re able to follow up when you know more, I’m sure it will be appreciated by me and anyone else visiting my blog.

      Happy holidays to you.


  111. This is the most positive i have felt in weeks, thank you so much for telling your stories. I had a carotid and vertebral dissection as a result of diving for a volleyball and going to a chiropractor. Both of which I will never do again. I have always been an active person. Played volleyball, soccer, baseball and football. Tried almost every sport and loved to push myself. Now I am told that even holding my daughters will cause an injury. I am 32, I wanted to have one more baby and I am not sure that will be In the cards for me. My accident happened on 10/07/13, I went to the ER twice before they finally gave me an MRA and found both arteries damaged. I was admitted into the hospital on 10/11 and spent 8 days total there. I have had 3 scans since and my carotid artery is already healed. My left vertebral is gone completely and my right vertebral is still aggravated not torn. I am scared all the time. I was told that I had a minor stroke. Only losing my balance for a few days but every weird feeling I think immediately that something is wrong. What I have now is some comfort, I know more of what to look for and how long my recovery will take. I have another MRA scheduled on 12/18. I pray that it will show my right artery relaxing and more new veins forming for my loss of my left vertebral. I will be on warfarin for some time I am told and I am trusting that it is working to ensure that my blood is following smoothly.

    1. Kerry – thanks so much for sharing your story here. I’m glad they finally found the VADs and hopeful that with your young age and ability to recover fully, that you’ll be able to return to full activities, including having additional children within a reasonable timeframe.

      All the best to you, and please do check in with any updates.

  112. I was diagnosised with VAD about 7 months ago. I suffered the injury from working out too hard completing over head squats. I did not suffer a stroke luckily only extreme head pains. My neuro put me on beta blockers, baby aspirin, and anti-coagulants. Just recently I completed a CT scan to identify progress. The right artery is completely healed but left vertrebral artery is mildly dissected. My neuro wants me to continue life activities while still on the medication. I started working out gently again and feel pressure at times in the sides/back of my head and aches is my neck/head. My neuro discussed how the muscles are sore and this is normal. This mainly occurs after I workout not during. Has anyone else have similar experiences. Any thoughts/suggestions moving forward?! This VAD has been very difficult for myself and believe the medication/life change has made at times depressed. Thx for any feed back!!!

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for sharing your story here. I’m glad you’re able to resume your normal activities, and I can bet others, including me, have felt the anxiety and depression that comes with having to face issues like ours.

      Regarding your question about pressure and pain in the head and neck after activity, I haven’t experienced that in the same way you describe. At times, I would feel a deep, muscular pain in my neck around where my dissection was. I often wondered (pain doesn’t seem to happen anymore) if it was a phantom pain—one that was more of a feeling that arose from worry about that area.

      I wish you continued recovery and do keep in touch with me and everyone here on the blog.


  113. Reoccurances are rare – but I had one. They think the second one was related to the first – compromised artery. I had two strokes. I am 44. I am VERY lucky I regained my left side movement. I am 4 months out of the second episode.

    1. Jb, How far apart were your two strokes? had you recovered from the first when the second happened? aside from the compromised artery, were you doing any activity that you think triggered the second stroke? … Sorry for the multiple questions. You are the first person I have heard from that has had a second stroke cause by VAD. My neurologists told me that the risk of reoccurrence was very low, so I’m curious about your case.

      1. they were 1.5 years apart. I had recovered from the first one and my artery had healed (MRI), but do have permanent hearing loss from the first one. my first one was after a neck adjustment. the second – they think because the artery was compromised – after tennis (serving?) or kayaking (turning my neck?). they never told me not to do certain things after the first one. I probably wouldn’t have been I can’t give too many details, due to an active lawsuit. i never, ever, ever thought it would happen again. i was shock for about a month. I regained my left side – it had been paralyzed. I am going to hope that it can NOT happen again. I was told to “retire my active lifestyle”. I am very slow & careful moving my neck. Scared to drive. It sucks.

        1. JB and Gabby – Thanks for being here and sharing.

          I hope you’re able to return to more activity as you continue on your recovery journey. I can’t fathom being told to retire my active lifestyle, so I really want that to not be true for you… maybe the artery will repair itself in a convincing way or other trusted healthcare opinions will emerge that aren’t so restrictive.

  114. As many others here, I had a VAD and stroke 4 months ago, presumably caused by chiropractor neck manipulation and exacerbated by exercise. I was very active at the time – running, cycling, beach volleyball, etc. I am almost fully recovered and my CT w/contrast scan showed that my artery is almost healed. I only get occasional headaches and almost never have “bad days”. My question for this group is related to what your neurologists recommended to avoid in terms of physical activities. Mine asked me to avoid any activity that puts my neck at risk, either due to over-extension or impact. As a result, a few of my activities have had to come off my list: volleyball, cycling (road biking for long distances due to the lowered upper body position and extension of the neck to look ahead), and other activities like horseback riding and roller coasters. What are you guys avoiding?

    1. Hi Gabby,

      Thanks for sharing your story here. For a while, my neurologist recommended that I avoid things that involved changes in altitude or pressure (SCUBA diving, skydiving, mountaineering, and any unpressurized air travel). He also said no head impact sports like soccer, football, or things like that. I was cleared to run and ride the bike when scans showed that my artery was well on it’s way back to normal. That was about six months post stroke. I was cautioned about biking only because there’s a greater risk of having head/neck trauma in an accident.

      Now, I’m cleared to do anything I’d like. I find that I’m more self-limiting than any of my doctors are… I won’t ride roller coasters now even though I enjoyed them prior. I just don’t want to risk it. But, I’ll certainly ride my road bike, run, and go climbing (if I get the opportunity again) without worrying about my vertebral artery. Most of my friends and colleagues have either forgotten or can’t believe this happened to me a couple of years ago. I realize how fortunate I am to not have any major long-term problems from it.

      Hope this is helpful to you.

    2. I had a VAD about 6 months ago and I am off Coumadin and on Plavix now. Based on the recent MRAs taken, my artery has healed completely and my neurologist cleared me to do most of the activities as long as they don’t involve jerky movements of the neck. Also, I was recommended not to be super competitive in sports activities for 6 more months. Frankly, I decided to avoid any contact sports. Actually, I started yoga and even that I had to stop since I started developing neck pain etc. Right now, the game plan is just to stick to treadmill, stationary biking and very mild nautilus machine based exercises (not involving neck again) for 6 more months and take it from there. Again, Robert, thanks for this setting up this blog and before stumbling on this site, I was going crazy! It is good to know that most of us affected with a VAD have recovered fully in about 6 months to a year.

        1. Robert, I am not 100% sure what triggered my VAD either except I was fairly active with my sports activities and I had some neck pain for almost a month or so at that time; and I was thinking about getting some physical therapy when all of a sudden VAD hit me! Not really knowing what caused it is why I am being super cautious about getting back to any real sports activity even though my doc has cleared me to resume moderate level of exercise regimen. When I talked to a neurologist friend in a different state, he asked me to rather wait for at least a year for the reason being that I or my own neurologist are not sure what caused this in the first place and so it is better to be safe rather sorry while getting back into any serious regimen of sports activity. When I hear your story, it brings me a lot of optimism and, of course, I was told by at least 4 different neurologists in the hospital I was in that the full recovery rate for VAD cases after 1 year is almost 98% and after 2 years it is close to 100%. I am holding on to that for now and really looking forward to getting back into the gym with gusto!

    1. Hi Nathan,

      Yes, most definitely. I was recently thinking about posting an update—it’s long overdue—with a recap of my experience with recovery from the VAD and stroke. I’ve been fully cleared to resume normal, and even strenuous activities for a while. But, the experience has certainly made a mark on me and my family about how precious and delicate life can be.

      Thanks for checking in… and sorry for making you wonder if this was still active or not!


  115. I had a vertebral artery dissection and stroke about 2 months ago. While playing baseball, I began experiencing double vision, extreme vertigo, light headed feelings and then vomited uncontrollably until they took me to the ER. I am 42, active, worked out regularly since I was 13, never smoke or drink, have normal blood pressure, and was told my stroke was caused by years or playing sports and then a sudden tear of my artery. My coordination and walking is greatly improved after 8 weeks, and I have begun light weight lifting. However I still have tremendous neck pain(is this normal?), daily headaches, some vertigo and they can’t get my INR over 1.2 despite continuous increases in my coumadin doses. Anyone having similar experiences?

    1. Jeff have you figured out your neck pain? I had a VAD that was caused by unstable vertebrae in my neck. I also had terrible neck pain and migraines. I had to have a one level fusion and have been so much better since…

      1. Hi Meg. Still experiencing major neck pain and migraines, and no one has given me much assistance. I greatly appreciate your feedback and am happy to hear you are feeling better! Thanks for the input, I will ask my doctor about potential unstable vertebrae at my next appointment.

  116. This is amazing! I just had the exact same injury. Mine was caused by me putting a 45lbs plate behind my head and doing squats, or as my neurologist said, stupidity. Thank you for you posts, it gives me a rough time line as to recovery. I feel I am wasting away not going to the gym.

    1. Hi Grahame,
      I ironically suffered a VAD in similar fashion. I was completing over head squats and felt the pain in the back of my head. What’s your prognosis look like? I went through a mini depression and was really impacted by not working out. I just started working out two wks ago with extreme cation.

  117. Hey there! I recently suffered a spontaneous vertebral arterial dissection (complete with a small stroke) just this past December and I am still having some difficulty, but it seems to either have healed or is healing rapidly. This has been the most difficult situation I have experienced in the 33 years of life I have lived thus far but I am determined to never let it rule me, and that is what we all must do. I’m only on 81mg of aspirin and have been off the Plavix since February with no follow-up MRI, so I guess no news is good news? I still have headaches, an occasional debilitating one from time to time, but for the most part I’m doing rather well considering. I love this blog because its nice to know that there are people out there who truly understand what you are going through and how you feel. I vote a Facebook page Robert! Let’s do it!

    God bless you all, and best wishes.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Glad you found the site and commented here. I don’t know how long it will be before the headaches subside for you, but I hope it’s soon. Definitely keep your healthcare team updated about all your symptoms and any concerns.

      I think a Facebook page or some other sort of community/group resource is a great idea! If you’re willing to help on that front, then let’s make this happen.

      Best to you, and look for an email from me about the Facebook idea.


  118. I am 29 years old and suffered a VAD and two strokes following a chiropractic neck adjustment on 5/11/13. The second day ffollowing the adjustment I had an excruciating neck/headache. I had to leave work it was so awful. I continued to see the chiropractor because he said sometimes people have pain following these procedures. He only did heat and electrotherapy along with some kind of pressure point tapping adjustments for two weeks. After about 5 days the pain was subsiding. I ended up taking 2 days off of work….mind you I’m hardly ever out sick. At about the 4 week mark I woke up one morning and my whole world was spinning. I immediately laid back down and called in sick to work. I tried the next day to go to work. That morning was the first time I noticed my right eye was droopy. My coworkers told me to go to the doctor. I went to my primary care physician that afternoon. She went me home with anti-nausea meds and an order for head CT without contrast. The earliest they could get me in was two days later. Again the next day I tried working to no avail. This was the time when I said enough is enough and went to the ER. My face had been droopy when the pain was present and I had started to walk/list to the right. Again I was almost discharged because I currently had no neuro symptoms. Luckily, while I was waiting for discharge I had a bout of pain and my face had started to droop. The doctor immediately ordered the CT angiogram that showed I had suffered a VAD. After being admitted to the ICU, I was taken for an MRI that confirmed I had suffered two strokes. I was extremely lucky though as both strokes occurred in areas that primarily only affect balance. I’m now 4 weeks past my ER visit and still improving in mobility and endurance. I fatigue quickly and have awful numbness/tickling sensations on my entire left side. I have a follow up CT angio on July 10. I’m hoping it shows some arterial improvement. I’m only on Asprin 325 once a day. I see a lot of folks on here are on the higher/more potent blood thinners.
    I’m hoping to get back to my normal life soon but in the meantime I’m just giving my body the time it needs to heal. I hope that my story may make someone question whether or not they should allow a chiropractor to do a neck manipulation…..
    Thanks to everyone on here that has shared!

    1. Hi Dana,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m relieved to hear you were (finally) able to get the diagnosis after being sent away previously. Please do give yourself time to heal—it may take some patience but you’ll be better off not pushing things too much early on.

      From my experience, the symptomatic headaches went away slowly over time (4-6 weeks post stroke) and I have been doing well ever since.

      My best wishes and thoughts are with you and hope you have a full, quick recovery.


  119. I m 41 years old, healthy, active, didn’t have any neck trauma, but woke up with severe bed spins 2 weeks ago and then was sweating so bad I was soaking wet. I woke my husband and my 21 year old son, he just graduated nursing school and determined I was having a stroke. I am so scared and worried, how to do continue and not worry about this happening again. I just don’t understand why it happened and how to avoid it again.
    I’m so happy for the positive results from all of your stories, I’m going through the “it’s not fair” stage and can’t seem to get out of it. 🙁

    1. Hi Sandie,

      Sorry this happened to you, but thanks for sharing here. You’re really fortunate that your son and husband were with you and were able to get you to medical care quickly. Try, if you can, to focus on the positive things while you continue your recovery.

      For a long time I worried about a recurrence, and honestly, the thought still creeps up from time to time. But, it does get better, and the best thing to do is keep active and living a healthy life to the fullest. Sounds cliché, yes, but I hope there’s comfort in that somehow.

      Best to you and your family,

  120. Hello Robert,

    I love this blog. I am a physical therapist and have a patient that was recently diagnosed with a VAD. The first one in 15 years of practice. One thing I cannot find in your blog was your original symptoms. What were the preceding indications of your problem or those of your other posters? I know the text book symptoms but curious what you went thru.

    1. Hello Paul,

      Thanks for finding this and for your comment. What happened with me, in terms of initial symptoms, was a sudden onset of severe headache, nausea, and loss of balance. There was no buildup of pain or discomfort in my neck or head—it came on without warning. My neurologist called it a case of spontaneous vertebral artery dissection (sVAD), as I had no history of trauma or genetic risk factors or any other events which could be blamed for the VAD.

      I did have some mild hypertension prior to the VAD, and that could be a contributing factor. The stress that the arterial walls were subjected to, over time may have weakened them. However, there’s no way to know for sure. I was very active prior to the VAD and stroke, and my health was off-the-charts excellent. My resting heart rate at time of VAD was in the low 40s, so the mild HTN was the only issue which may have impacted me.

      I hope this helps, but do let me know if you want to explore this further. I’m borderline evangelical about the role of exercise and fitness in recovery from brain injury (and any injury for that matter). 🙂


  121. I am 28 and has a vertebral dissection and stroke after a skiing injury. I fell hard and hit my head and had concussion. I recovered quickly and got back to normal activities, then 10 days after I had severe vomiting, vertigo, and double vision. After an MRI i was diagnosed with a stroke. It’s 7 weeks after my stroke now and I am much better now. My balance is back to normal, but unfortunately I still have some double vision. My neurologist says this will go away gradually. I just wanted to share my story with you all and wish you all the best.

    1. Wow, Jane! Thanks for sharing your experience here. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better, and I hope you enjoy a full, quick recovery which allows you to return to being as active as you want. It certainly sounds like that will happen!

      1. Robert,

        I had severe stroke symptoms on Dec. 25, 2012 and was taken to the local hospital (we were out of town for Christmas). The Dr. discovered a left VAD but no “stroke”. I they transferred me to a larger (more capable) hospital and I was there for 3 days then straight to their PT unit for another 8 days. I underwent lots of testing but no one has ever verified an actual stroke. I had another ‘episode’ in the middle of Jan. (this year) and was only in the hospital over night. I’m having some vision issues, memory loss and balance problems currently. My leg is still weak and my hand doesn’t always do what I tell it too, but other than that, I seem to have recovered.

        I don’t know where to go from here… I see my PC doc today. I am going to ask for an MRA to check on the healing of the VAD because I don’t believe it’s healed. I still get severe neck and trapezeus pain that ends up causing a tension like headache. What happens if the VAD doesn’t heal? Am I looking at more ‘episodes’ in the future? Also, could it be possible that I’m having an ongoing loss of blood flow to my brain?

        I’m scared and can’t seem to find answers!

        Any information you have would be great!



        1. Hi Rene,

          Sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with a VAD and resulting problems. I hope the physician visit provided some answers and a direction toward recovery for you. To me, it certainly sounds like you need to have information that you’re confident in. Perhaps there are some specialists available for second opinions.

          I hope you have a full recovery and don’t settle for any non-specific information about your diagnosis and treatment plan.

          Please do let me (and those of us who read the blog) know how you’re doing and if there’s anything anyone can do for you.


          1. Robert if you are in the US go see Dr. Biller at Loyola in Chicago he did my diagnosis and managed my case excellently.

  122. My husband is currently recovering from a left vertebral dissection and stroke. He colapsed while standing at the sink doing dishes. He never lost consciousness. Extreme dizziness and headache, light sensitivity etc. Taken to ER. Ct was negative, ER dr starts taking about a bad migraine. Finally I said loudly…52 yr olds can have a stroke!are you equipped to handle this type of event here? “yes we are a stroke hospital”. Ok what other test can diagnose a stroke cuz I know CT scans don’t always show a stroke in 1st 24 hr. He finally ordered an MRI and that lead to a diagnoses of stroke. We got the diagnoses approximately 4-41/2 hours after onset of symptoms…does anyone know if TPA would help w the dissection type of vad…just curious if anyone was give that drug. My husband was in an ICU for 2 days w horrific headaches , then flown to a specialized neuro ICU due to brain swelling, stayed their another 7 nights. He was able to escape the drainage or brain surgery. He is now in a rehab hospital for another week. His main problem now is dizziness w standing. Hopefully things will get better.

    1. Hello Susan,

      Thank you for sharing you and your husband’s story here. First, I’m glad he seems to be doing well. It sounds like he received (and continues to receive) the help he needed. He’s so fortunate that you spoke up and didn’t allow them to stop before fully ruling out a stroke. Bravo for you!

      Everyone should learn how to recognize stroke warning signs, and then speak up when something doesn’t seem right whether or not it’s convincing a loved one to get medical help or insisting on a comprehensive diagnostic approach from healthcare providers. Susan, you may have saved your husband’s life by challenging the doctor to order more than a CT. Luckily for me, my stroke was minor enough that I didn’t die as a result of my own experience with a missed diagnosis of “headache” after a CT in the ER.

      I am not qualified to answer your question about tPA and how it relates to treatment for a vertebral artery dissection. I do know that my neurologist said that Warfarin/Coumadin therapy was the “gold standard” in treatment for VAD, and that worked for me. It sounds like your husband is in good hands with his current neurologist(s), so I am sure they have a sense of what will be the most effective treatment plan to follow.

      My thoughts and well wishes are with you and your husband, Susan. Please do keep me updated. I’m optimistic that the worst is behind you both now.


  123. Thanks for your posts Robert. Congrats on your recovery! I am 43, married, with two teenage sons, very healthy & active, & had a VAD on Sept. 6, 2012 that led to a stroke. Fortunately, the stroke was isolated in the cerebellum, the artery has “healed” and I have been back to “normal activity” since a few weeks after the stroke. I intially thought I had vertigo, got a shot for nausea and laid in the bed for 48 hours not realizing what was truly happening – even though I has a crushing headache. After the CT scan at the ER revealed the stroke, I was in ICU for a few days, had some therapy initially to regain balance & vision, and was on Warfarin for 3 months after the stroke. Folow-up MRA’s showed “healthy blood flow” and that the artery was healed (though they could “see where the VAD happened it now looks like an old injury that has healed.” (Praise God.) Now, I take an adult aspirin once a day, and run 9-12 miles a week at a pretty decent pace. Planning on a 10k in April to kind of “celebrate” the recovery. The docs cleared me for running pretty early on, but advised me to be careful with any contact sports, or sports where I would have to “whip my neck” quickly. They told me roller coasters were out forever 🙁 I have some “dull neck pain” from time to time & occasional headaches in the back of my head – especially later in the day – I attribute these symptoms to ongoing healing from the VAD & stroke, and will go back for another visit with the neurologist this summer to check things out. I am extremely thankful for life & healing and want to encourage others who are recovering from VAD’s to stay positive and active – there are brighter days ahead!

    1. Hello Kyle,

      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s so similar to mine, and I’m grateful for the confirmation that activity helps with the healing process. I hope all continues to go well for you and you’re able to do anything your sons can — with the possible exception of roller coasters!


  124. I had a left vertebral artery dissection from an injury after going down a water slide in a mud run. Someone slammed into me at the bottom of the slide. No symptoms until 10 days later when I had a stroke.
    Recovered enough within 10 minutes to be able to get up off the floor and drive to the emergency room.
    They did a CT scan and did not see anything and dismissed it as vertigo. I was still partially blind in my left eye. Went to another hospital that evening and got an MRI and was admitted for a week. After my hospital stay …my energy level has decreased. I get headaches and pressure in my head. (never before this stroke) Stiff neck…so stiff it cracks when I turn my head. Sometimes I get a little dizzy and my vision a little blurry.
    The neurologist says it is completely crushed and no blood flow but arteries sometimes heal themselves.
    My question is there anything I can do besides taking Coumadin? Will light exercise tell my brain that it needs more blood and increase the chances of healing? Read that taking Niacin (not the no flush) will increase blood flow. Besides time and prayer…what else can I do?
    Gregg McElwee
    Laguna Hills, California

    1. Hi Gregg,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. You’re fortunate you got the MRI to correctly diagnose the VAD & stroke. I had headaches daily for about four weeks after the stroke, then somewhat regularly (but not daily) for about two to three weeks after that. The good news is the headaches went away. I hope the same for you. I sometimes feel pain in my neck and wonder if it’s from my vertebral artery, but I tend to think I’m hypervigilant about any kind of strange or unpleasant feeling in my head or neck now. Your pain is almost certainly more real than mine (due from the trauma you suffered), so I would recommend speaking with your neurologist about that. Especially since you have dizziness and vision issues accompanying that pain.

      My artery has healed completely now. So, yes, these dissections can and do heal. The “gold standard” of treatment has been Coumadin/Warfarin therapy. I don’t know about nor can I recommend anything beyond that. I did start light exercise during my treatment – walking, then some running – with the awareness and blessing of my physicians (primary doc and neurologist). I am of the opinion that exercise is almost always a good thing for healing. But too much at the wrong time could be disastrous!

      My advice would be to keep speaking with your neurologist and other qualified medical providers and let them know your goals and any issues you’re having. It does take time, but it sounds like you were active (probably very much so) prior to the VAD and stroke. There’s no reason to think that you can’t return to full activity after allowing time for recovery. My thoughts are with you and your family. Thanks again for reaching out.