Crick In Neck: Causes And How To Make It Go Away
Have you ever woken up with the feeling of immobility in your neck? Like something is stopping you from turning your head in any direction. It can be both frustrating and unbelievably uncomfortable. You may be experiencing a “crick in neck”. I remember when I was in high school I would wake up for practice in the morning and my neck would not want to move. I would have a hard time turning my head without a helmet on it never mind having a 5lb helmet on my head.
This was incredibly frustrating because it hindered my performance. Having a crick in neck is not something to be worried about because it is generally temporary but if you are a high functioning human one day, and then wake up with something that hinders that performance the next. There are some things you can do to help treat and prevent a crick in neck.
What Is A Crick In Neck?
Also commonly called a stiff neck, this temporary ailment is generally the loss of range in the motion of the lower neck and trap muscles. They become tight which limits the range of motion of your head. It is uncomfortable, but there is no sharp pain generally.
The great thing about a crick in neck is that they can generally be treated at home. They are temporary and merely an inconvenience for those that have to deal with it.
The issue with having tight upper traps, connected to smaller neck muscles can cause overcompensation which may lead to this becoming a regular issue. We will go into this in more detail in the next section.
Causes Of A Crick In Neck
Your neck is made up of several small muscles connected to other larger muscles. There are a lot of different ways in which this can happen, but the most common is your sleeping position. Crick in neck occurs when the muscles of the neck are stuck in an awkward or unnatural position over a period.
That is the more common cause of crick in neck. When your neck muscles are left in a bad position for an extended period whether it is sleeping, sitting in bad posture, and other variations of the same.
If you are an athlete, the causes of a crick in neck can be from poor training posture. Or incorrect execution of exercises. Many runners get a crick in neck during longer runs because of the bouncing with the neck being in a protruded position. It can also be a part of DOMS (daily onset muscle soreness).
A far less common cause of crick in neck is due to arthritis. Even less common would be from a pinched nerve in your neck. It is important to seek out therapy from a health care provider if your crick in neck lasts longer than a few days.
How To Make A Crick In Neck Go Away
A heating pad or rice sock
When muscles are tight, they can be soothed with heat. Using a heating pad on the affected area can help loosen up the muscles which in turn will help those nerves in your neck to relax which should help return your range of motion to your neck. Another way to get some heat on your neck is to take a sock and fill it with rice. Throw that in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and then apply that to the affected area.
This one is simple. Get in a hot bath, or shower and allow the heat of the water to sooth those tonic muscles. You can also use a sauna or hot tub to do the same thing. This is my favorite way to deal with a crick in neck
Stretching or Self-Myofascial Release
Trying to regain the range of motion in your neck can be painful and gentle stretching may help to restore that range of motion. The most important thing with stretching through a crick in neck is to be slow and patient with it. You can force your neck to go back to normal. There are a lot of nerves in these areas that are being pushed down by the tight muscles. You need to coax them loose by slowly testing and pushing the range of motion.
Moving your head from side to side search out your current range of motion. Slowly and carefully push that limit. It is going to be uncomfortable, but you need to be persistence. Do not draw your head down until you are ready. Then try and roll your neck. This will be again semi-painful, but you are trying to free those nerves. You can also get on a lacrosse ball, or a foam roller which may help release the muscles around the nerves.
A chiropractor or Physical Therapist?
Sometimes home remedies don’t work, and you need to seek professional help. They will make sure you are aligned and assess what is going on with your crick in neck and they will apply practical techniques to try and get the muscles in your next to relax. They will give you home exercises as well as apply manual therapy in the office.
Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers
This is my least favorite option, but if you need relief, you can take some over the counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen. I would not go this route before trying to manually get rid of your crick in the neck. This is just a band-aid and is not going to eliminate your problem.
Change Your Posture
Change your sleeping position or get new pillows. This will help eliminate the problem entirely. Get some firm pillows that help hold your head in position. Also be mindful of how you sit, and move through the world. Make sure your posture is good whenever you can. If you find yourself not in a good position, fix it! Try not to stay in a compromising position any longer than you have to be.
Find The Best Healthcare Providers Using 9INE POINT Health
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If you are unsure where to start your journey, 9INE POINT Health will ask you questions and help you figure out the best starting place. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and 9INE POINT Health will connect you with the type of provider best suited for your needs. It does not matter if you are injured or just sore.
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KHO Health was acquired by was acquire by 9INE POINT in the summer of 2019 and is now referred to as 9INE POINT Health.