Young father suffers stroke from cracking his neck

May is Stroke Awareness Month.

Although stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability, many myths surround this disease.

For example, did you know that up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable and that stroke can happen to anyone at any time?

Josh Hader is a 28-year-old man who and a young father who wish he knew more about this.

He suffered a major stroke when he tore an artery in his neck.


Cracking our joints may be a bad habit, but it doesn’t stop the majority of us from doing it anyway.

Josh Hader, of Guthrie, tore an artery in his neck leading to his brain. The cause of the stroke?

He just popped his neck.

“The moment I heard the pop, everything on my left side started to go numb,” Hader said.

KOCO / Youtube

“I got up and tried to get an ice pack from the fridge, and I remember I couldn’t walk straight.”

Luckily, there were people nearby who could help him. His father-in-law rushed him to the emergency room.

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

”He could have died”

The condition was very serious and doctors said the act of popping his neck caused Josh Hader to tear his vertebral artery.

“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.

McCollom showed us Hader’s X-rays. Hader tore his vertebral artery, a crucial vessel leading to the brain.

KOCO / Youtube

“If you have a stroke in that area, you can end up with a patient (who’s) locked in,” McCollom said.

“They completely understand what’s going on, but they can’t communicate. They can’t move anything. They can’t speak. They can’t breathe.”

Thank God, Hader’s stroke wasn’t that significant. Still, it did cause a lot of damage.

“One of the muscles that goes to his eye is weak because the nerve was injured,” McCollom said.

Also, Hader had to wear an eyepatch for several days and he couldn’t walk without a walker.

KOCO / Youtube

The doctors decided that Hader’s condition was best treated with medicine and physical therapy.

Even though he gets better every day, it’s a long way to go. The walker is now put away, but Hader still has a lot of trouble.

“It is difficult to walk with my left leg,” Hader said.

Hader said he has a very strange side effect: He had hiccups for a week and a half straight, painful hiccups that, he said, nearly caused a panic attack.

But the hardest part of the whole ordeal 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.

So, is there’s any safe way to pop your neck?

According to doctors, there is a right and wrong way to pop your neck.

“If you want to pop your neck, just kind of pop it side to side. Don’t twist it,” McCollom told KOCO 5.

“Whenever you twist it, there’s a risk of tearing that vessel. Say my hand is his head, I suspect he just turned it real sharp and up, sharp and up and back. That’s what really pinched it.”

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

KOCO / Youtube

“He wanted to tell his wife he was sorry that he had popped his neck,” McCollom said.

“His wife had been telling him, ‘Don’t pop your neck. You’re going to cause a stroke.’”

stroke is an emergency – it can happen to anyone, at any time, and at any age.

 Hader and his doctors want to remind you of the FAST symptoms of stroke:

  • F is for face — Are you seeing any drooping?
  • A is for arms– Do notice a drift or weakness to one arm when holding both in front of you?
  • S is for speech — Is your speech slurred?
  • T is for time, as your life hangs in the balance.

Please help share Josh Hader’s story to raise awareness during Stroke Awareness Month!