How to Get Rid of a Crick in the Neck

Mar 21, 2022

How to Get Rid of a Crick in the NeckA crick in your neck may sound like a diagnosis from your great aunt, and it is a vague term that’s been used to describe general neck pain for years. But what is a crick in the neck? Is it a real condition? What does it feel like? Is it painful? And should you be worried about it?

 

The technical term for neck pain is cervicalgia, which can sound daunting, but encompasses a variety of neck injuries and issues, most of which are not serious but can cause pain. Cervicalgia is common and can present through a number of symptoms, which normally include:

  • Headaches
  • Stiffness or a feeling of your neck being “stuck”
  • Limited ability to move your head
  • Neck muscle tightness or spasms
  • Neck pain

It’s no wonder people refer to a crick in your neck as being a pain in your neck – it is quite literally that. A crick in your neck can be used to describe the pain felt from a number of cervical or spinal issues. While most causes of neck pain are not serious and resolve themselves, it’s good to know how your symptoms fit into the context of other neck or back issues.

Possible Causes of Neck Pain

Here are some of the reasons you could be experiencing neck pain.

Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms account for the vast majority of neck pain. They are involuntary and can often occur from overuse or from poor posture. Think about it- your head weighs as much as a bowling ball, and if you’re not practicing good posture, that heavy weight can start to affect your neck and back, causing stressors like muscle spasms.

Herniated Discs

Most people think of herniated discs occurring in your back or lower back, but they can happen in your cervical area as well, which can lead to neck pain. Cervical herniated discs happen when the inner layer of your disc pushes through the outer layer. Because there’s so little room in your spinal canal, any disruption like that can cause compression on a nerve. While herniated discs can cause neck pain, other symptoms like pain in your arms is more common.

Spinal Stenosis

Stenosis occurs when the spinal canal doesn’t have enough room for the discs and nerves it contains. Most likely, stenosis occurs from osteoarthritis. While it’s possible your pain is from stenosis, it is unlikely.

Ways You Can Manage Neck Pain

In most cases, you can count on a crick in your neck to go away on its own. But, if you’ve ever experienced neck pain before, you know that waiting the 2-4 weeks for it to go away can be excruciating and can cause serious disruption to your daily quality of life. There are many home remedies you can try to reduce your pain, as well as over-the-counter or doctor-assisted options. Here’s where we’d start when trying to reduce neck pain:

Relax

It might be the last thing you want to hear or do when it comes to addressing your pain, but it’s the first thing you should try. Start by taking at least three days off from anything strenuous. That means no exercise or vigorous playing with your kids. Spend time with your neck adequately supported while sitting or lying down, but don’t spend too much time in bed. It’s good to keep your body and neck moving but moving at a slower, more relaxed pace to give it time to heal from any muscle spasms.

Cold Therapy

If your neck is inflamed from a muscle spasm or for any other reason, cold therapy can be a way to reduce pain and inflammation. You can try wrapping ice in a cold towel or applying an ice pack to your neck for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. You can do this several times a day, but keep in mind that if you are managing any circulatory issues or have diabetes, you should limit the amount of time you ice your neck to no more than 10 minutes.

Heat Therapy

Alternatively, you can treat your neck pain with heat. Heat acts to decrease pain and tension in your neck muscles and can be done in conjunction with cold therapy. You can apply heat by taking a warm shower or using a heating pad. Like cold therapy, you should apply heat for approximately 20 minutes at a time.

Medication

If your pain is really bothering you without any relief from posture or lifestyle changes, try an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or acetaminophen. Ibuprofen or Tylenol can work to lessen your pain and reduce inflammation but may not take care of the root cause of your pain.

Stretching

Setting aside time to stretch each day is a good habit to have regardless, but especially if you’re experiencing neck pain. Before stretching, try applying either a hot or cold compress.

Neck Stretches

This is one of the best stretches to reduce neck pain. Do this sequence 3 to 5 times through.

Stand straight, with your feet hip-width apart. Look forward, and bring your chin slowly down to your chest. Stay here for 5 to 10 seconds. Slowly lift your head back up to where you started.

Next, from the same starting position, tilt your head back and look up at the ceiling. Stay here for 5 to 10 seconds before slowly returning your head back to the same starting place.

Bring your right ear to your right shoulder, but don’t actually touch your ear to your shoulder. Do this until you feel a slight stretch in the left side of your neck. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds before slowly lifting your head back up. Repeat on the left side.

Head Turns

Do this sequence 3 to 5 times through.

Stand straight, with your feet hip-width apart. Look forward, and turn your head to the right side, but don’t go past your shoulder. Hold here for 5 to 10 seconds before slowly turning your head to the left side. Hold there for 5 to 10 seconds before returning your head to look forward.

Next, take a seat and put your right hand under your right leg. Take your left arm and drape it over your head until you can touch your right ear with your left hand. From this position, lean your left ear toward your left shoulder – but don’t actually touch your left shoulder- and gently pull with your left hand. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

Keep Moving

It might seem contradictory, but resting and moving should be done in tandem to relieve neck pain. It’s not good for neck pain for you to stay in one position too long. Every 30 minutes or so, you should change positions and make sure you’re doing a good mix of sitting and standing throughout the day. After your few days of rest and no activity, try adding in walking or some gentle yoga to keep your body moving.

Practice Good Posture

As we mentioned previously, your head weighs the same as a bowling ball, so practicing good posture is a must for long-term health and for short-term pain management. Slouching, whether while at a computer or while standing up, can create neck pain. Take a look in a mirror to gauge whether or not your shoulders are slumper or if your head is extending far beyond your shoulders. Good posture also varies by sitting, standing, or lying down.

Sitting

Avoid crossing your legs, and try to keep your feet flat on the floor. Leave some distance between the backs of your knees and your seat. Make sure the back of your seat supports your lower back. Keep your knees below your hips, and relax your shoulders.

Standing

Keep your feet flat, and concentrate your weight on the balls of your feet. Keep your head neutral while you let your arms fall to your sides. Your core should be tucked in and utilized while your shoulders are slightly back.

Lying Down

A good mattress can go a long way for keeping neck and back pain at a minimum. A firm mattress is best for neck pain, as is a good pillow. Stomach sleeping can encourage bad posture and neck pain, so try to sleep on your back or on your side. If you’re a side sleeper, tuck a pillow between your knees to keep your body in better alignment.

Massage It Out

When you’ve got sore or aching muscles, sometimes you need the help of a professional masseuse to help you massage out the pain. This can also help stimulate blood flow and bodily fluids, which should accelerate your healing. While massages can feel good and aid in pain relief, they may not eliminate it all together.

Use the Proper Pillows

Just like a good mattress and good sleep posture can help with neck pain, a pillow specifically designed to support your neck properly during sleep can have long-term positive effects, far beyond helping you recover from the pain of a crick in your neck. The positive effects of switching to a neck pillow from the likes of Tempur-Pedic can be literally overnight. Make sure you pay attention to the size, shape, and type of pillow you’re purchasing, as your height, weight, body type, and sleep position play into what pillow is best for you.

Acupuncture

A popular alternative treatment for pain relief, acupuncture is when tiny needles are inserted into particular pressure points of your body. Like most alternative practices, studies have varied as to acupuncture’s effectiveness; however, many people swear by it, saying that several sessions have helped to eliminate pain. A few things you’ll want to double-check before you go to an acupuncturist for a crick in your neck: Make sure your practitioner is licensed and that they use sterile needles for every patient. Also, check with your insurance to see if these sessions might be covered.

See a Chiropractor

At AICA Conyers, we may be partial to this plan of action. We know that chiropractors can aid in long-term cervical and spinal health, which helps you stay pain-free. Not just for after an accident or injury, chiropractic care is tailored to your needs and targets misalignments within the cervical and spinal columns. At AICA Conyers, we have a comprehensive care team to assess your neck pain and, if needed, diagnose and prescribe a treatment plan. When considering chiropractic care, check with your insurance company as some insurance companies cover up to a certain number of chiropractic visits.

When to See a Doctor

If you are not experiencing relief from home remedies from stretching to resting to hot and cold therapy, and your pain has persisted beyond 3 or 4 weeks, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Keep in mind that while most cases of neck pain clear up within a matter of weeks, there are more serious issues that would need to be addressed by your doctor. Additionally, if you’ve had any numbness, shooting pains in your arms, or loss of strength in your hands or arms, you should call your doctor immediately and if they don’t subside within a few hours, call 911.

Crick in the Neck Treatment at AICA

A crick in your neck can sound like something someone has made up. However, the pain of a crick in your neck is real, common, and mostly non-serious. Symptoms of a crick in your neck are typically marked by a stiff neck or feeling stuck. You might also experience headaches, neck pain, a limited ability to move or turn your head, and muscle spasms. There are many ways you can address neck pain, or cervicalgia, at home or with alternative treatments like acupuncture or chiropractic care. In some cases, a doctor may need to see you if the pain does not decrease after 2-4 weeks.

AICA Conyers offers comprehensive care to address aches and pains in your neck and back. As your go-to office for chiropractic care and physical therapy, we can help you address your neck pain, provide treatment in the office, and offer referrals for any additional treatment we think necessary.

SHARE: