“It always ruins my day whenever I have a crick in my neck! That horrible stiffness and sharp pain every time I turn my head is awful!”
You can usually hear this from someone who’s experiencing what we so called a “crick in the neck”. It is when you can hardly move your neck because the muscles hurt – like something’s locking whenever you try to move. Most people describe it as stiff neck, something that’s really annoying, if not painful.
What is Crick in the Neck?
Crick in the neck is a common condition a lot of people have experienced at one point or another. It’s defined as unilateral cervical pain or one sided neck pain causing restricted actions. Actions such as turning your head or bending it to the side of the neck that’s painful, and bending your head back are most commonly restricted as neck crick is characterized by stiffness and a limited movement in the cervical spine.
What causes a crick in the neck is somehow disputed. Because it is usually the inflammation that causes the pain, and there’s no inflammation detected with a crick neck, the pain is most likely not due to joint inflammation. It could be neck spasms or could possibly be a problem with a specific neck muscle that usually comes from common patterns of pain apparent to neck strain.
To see what causes crick in neck, try to carefully stretch your neck. If a gentle stretching causes stiff neck but lessens the pain, it’s usually the muscles on your shoulder or upper back are causing the crick. However, if careful stretching causes sharper pain, an overstretched ligament is what most probably causes a crick in your neck.
Although we usually blame neck crick to awkward sleep positioning, there are still other instances that causes it. Everyday activities such as harshly twisting or turning your head during exercise, bending over your desk for hours, and having improper posture also causes crick in neck.
Signs and Symptoms
Pain and difficulty to move your neck especially to one side are what usually crick in neck symptoms. However, when the crick is more serious, you’ll feel that the neck is sore and there’s muscle pain in the same shoulder blade as the neck. And though most neck cricks don’t indicate other medical condition, some people also experience other symptoms such as the following:
- Pain that goes into shoulder, arm, or hands
- Weakness in the arm
- Numbness in the arm
- Tingling sensation
If any of these other symptoms are present, it would be best to see a doctor as some nerve problems might be involved. There could be a sign of nerve compression in the affected area especially if the pain is radiating into your shoulder and arms.
Crick in Neck Remedies
Hot or cold water or pack set is usually the initial crick in the neck remedies. Because cold water or ice reduces swelling, thus dulling the pain, and heating pad or hot water relaxes the muscles, forcing it to contract and speed up the healing process, these basic home remedies usually gives best neck crick relief.
Over the counter pain medicines and/or massage especially if the pain doesn’t go away with heat or cold treatment are also some other neck crick remedies. However, OTC drugs are more likely to have side effects, so reading through the label is necessary before taking any of these drugs.
Crick in Neck Treatment
Although simple home remedies can already provide crick in the neck relief, some people feel that those are just not enough. For most people who experience worst pain, seeing a chiropractor would be the best option. Chiropractic therapy can provide an effective crick in the neck treatment by demonstrating neck and spinal manipulation to decrease pain and induce joint movement or increase range of movement. A chiropractor uses pain gels in few sessions of muscle stripping to help soothe the pain and bring crick in neck relief. It usually takes 2 to 3 days to heal or to totally get rid of crick in neck.
Since neck cricks can be nothing more but an annoyance or worst, serious problematic condition, most people are trying to avoid this to re-occur. That’s why it’s advisable to regularly visit your local chiropractor to keep you from singing “Crick in My Neck” by Cowboy Troy anymore.
A crick in the neck is simply your muscles’ reaction when your neck has been wrongly positioned for a long period of time – it’s as simple as that. It is not benign and it usually doesn’t signify a more serious medical condition. However, if the cricks last for more than a week, if it’s getting worse, or if you’re experiencing other symptoms, then it’s about time to see a healthcare professional to properly diagnose and treat your pain.