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A 28-year-old Oklahoma man is warning people to be more careful when they try to pop their neck after he tore an artery in his neck and suffered a stroke.

“The moment I heard the pop, everything on my left side started to go numb,” Josh Hader of Gunthrie, Oklahoma told KOCO. “I got up and tried to get an ice pack from the fridge, and I remember I couldn’t walk straight.”

That’s when his father-in-law rushed him to emergency room to figure out what happened.

Doctors say while Hader was popping his neck, the 28-year-old managed to tear his vertebral artery, which is a crucial blood vessel that leads to the brain. The tear caused the stroke – which could have been a lot worse, his doctor said.

“He could have formed more clot on that tear and had a life-ending stroke. He could have died,” said Dr. Vance McCollom at Mercy Hospital. Hader was extremely lucky given that a stroke in that area can result in patients who become “locked in” – as in, victims can understand what’s going on around them, but they’re unable to communicate, move, speak, or breathe.

Hader’s stroke wasn’t that bad, but it did cause a lot of damage to his body. One of his eye muscles became weakened after the nerve leading to it was damaged, which gave him double-vision and forced him to wear an eye-patch for several days. He also suffered from having painful hiccups for more than a week, which nearly caused a panic attack.

While the physical damage is tough to bear, Hader says the more difficult part has been not being able to help his wife with their two young children.

“I can’t pick him up out of the crib, give him milk in the middle of the night. I can’t do any of that,” Hader said.

Doctors were able to treat him using a combination of medicine and physical therapy.

This isn’t the first time someone has suffered after trying to crack their neck. Earlier this month, a 23-year-old paramedic based in London was left partially paralyzed after she tried cracking her neck while stretching. According to the Daily Mail, Natalie Kunicki was watching movies in bed with a friend when she stretched out her neck, and caused her vertebral artery to rupture.

Doctors say if you’re feeling tense and want to pop your neck, the best thing to do is just kind of pop it side to side and never twist it. Twisting increases your risk of tearing the vertebral artery.

Photo: Getty Images

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