A 23-year-old paramedic who suffered from stroke after cracking her neck has warned others against the dangers of neck cracking.
Natalie Kunicki, who moved from Canberra, Australia, to work for the London Ambulance Service, was watching movies in bed with her friend in March when she stretched her neck and heard a loud crack.
Kunicki thought nothing of the sound and went to sleep. She said she is used to cracking her joints. However, after 15 minutes, Kunicki woke up and was unable to move her left leg and fell to the floor when she attempted to walk.
The Story Of Natalie Kunicki
The following day after the incident, Kunicki was rushed to the University College London Hospital and underwent CT scan.
It was confirmed that she had suffered a stroke, which was caused by the rupturing of a major artery in her spine. In fact, as Kunicki's neck cracked, her vertebral artery had burst, which then caused a blood clot to form in her brain and trigger a stroke.
The left side of the young paramedic's body was completely paralyzed, and Kunicki admitted that she felt "emotionless" for days. She said that thanks to her friends, she was able to snap out of her "pity party" and focused all her energy into recovery.
The doctors then transferred Kunicki to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, where she underwent three hours of surgery. This is where the doctors discovered her burst artery.
Although the doctors were able to repair Kunicki's artery with a stent, they were unable to clear the blood clot in her brain. However, the doctors believe the blood clot will dissolve in time.
Kunicki also admitted that depression struck her while she was going through the treatment.
"I think I scared my consultant because after I woke up she came in to ask how I was going but I told her 'you should have killed me'," said Kunicki.
Depression is common after a stroke, said Kunicki, because she said being paralyzed made her "lose so much independence and dignity."
As of writing, doctors cannot provide an exact timeframe for a full recovery, but Kunicki hopes she can return to work for light duty within six to 12 months.
Since her discharge, Kunicki has been living with her parents, Anne and Peter Kunicki, and they will move back to Australia in July.
Kunicki's brother has set up a GoFundMe page for people who want to help her recover from her condition.
Why Neck Cracking Is Bad For The Health
Kunicki said most people who experience stroke are at their 70s or 80s and that young people suffering from it are quite rare.
Although what happened to Kunicki had a one in a million possibility, ruptured vertebral artery is still a common cause of strokes in young people.
There are more reasons why neck cracking is bad for the health. A study in 2011 revealed that a 42-year-old woman who cracked her neck experienced "the worst headache of her life," and then experienced pain in her left neck. She also reported vomiting, nausea, and blurred vision.
Meanwhile, a study in 2003 revealed that neck cracking increased the risk for stroke by 6.62-fold.
However, Bustle reported that the rupturing of vertebral artery could also be caused by other things, such as genetic predispositions to artery weakness, hypermobility, neck accidents, and injuries, among other things. It is "tricky" to pin the blame solely on neck cracking.
It's also possible that underreporting plays a role in the fact that statistics that correlate neck cracking to stroke are low. Still, it is still worth noting that anyone who cracks their neck must be careful in doing so.