28-year-old man suffers major stroke after cracking his neck

An Oklahoma man is speaking out after cracking his sore neck landed him in the emergency room with a much more serious issue.

Josh Hader, a 28-year-old father of two, says he was suffering from neck stiffness on March 14 and, while trying to stretch out the affected area, he heard a "popping" noise before half of his body became weak.

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

Hader's father-in-law rushed him to Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, where Dr. Vance McCollom discovered the patient had torn his vertebral artery, a crucial vessel leading to the brain, which caused him to have a major stroke.

Hader was administered tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a protein which helps to breaks up blood clots, and had to spend four days in the intensive-care unit before he was transferred to inpatient therapy.

The young father had to wear an eye patch for several days after his stroke due to his vision problems and, oddly, suffered from an excruciatingly painful, weeks-long case of hiccups that he says nearly caused him to have panic attacks. 

"Those were terrible. Literally, two weeks of straight hiccups since the stroke happened," he told KOCO. "Towards the end, they would make it almost impossible for me to breathe for a few seconds, and that was scary."

Hader also initially couldn't walk without the assistance of a walker, but after weeks of physical therapy, he says he is able to get around mostly unassisted. 

Although Hader's case was serious, Dr. McCollom said it could have ended up much, much worse. 

"If you have a stroke in that area, you can end up with a patient who’s locked in," McCollum told the station. "They completely understand what's going on, but they can't communicate. They can't move anything. They can't speak. They can't breathe."

Hader's case closely mirrors that of Natalie Kunicki, a 23-year-old British paramedic whose neck-cracking habit recently caused her to rupture a major artery in her spine, resulting in a stroke. 

RELATED: Learn the signs of a stroke: 

Stroke risk factors and stroke symptoms
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Stroke risk factors and stroke symptoms

Strokes are more common among the elderly, with the chance of stroke nearly doubling each decade after the age of 55. 

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Stroke risk is greater in those whose immediate family members have had a stroke, and a stroke can be a symptom of various hereditary disorders.

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The risk of death from stroke is higher in African-Americans as they also have higher risks of complications like high blood pressure and diabetes. 

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Women are also more likely to die of a stroke, possibly due to factors such as birth control usage and pregnancy complications.

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Strokes are more likely in people who have already suffered a stroke or a heart attack. 

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Southeastern states are also called the "stroke belt" states, as strokes are more common in this area. 

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Alcohol abuse can lead to many problems, including strokes. 

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Speech difficulties are a major symptom of someone who has had or is having a stroke.

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Possibly the most noticeable sign of stroke is the drooping of one side of the face, or face numbness.

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Weakness on one side of the body is another symptom of a stroke. 

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