Waking up in the morning only to feel a crick in your neck can be a tough way to start your day. The stiff uncomfortable sensation in your neck can sometimes feel as though you can’t move your neck at all making it difficult to go about your day. Fortunately, most cases can be remedied at home!
A Crick in Your Neck
A crick in your neck or a stiff neck is a form of acute neck pain that often affects the muscles in your lower neck and upper back muscles. The muscles and soft tissues in the area become strained resulting in a rigid, stiffness that can limit your range of motion.
Aside from a stiff and uncomfortable neck, there are other symptoms associated with this condition. Common symptoms include:
- A stiff feeling in the lower neck and upper back muscles
- Reduced mobility
- Popping feeling when your neck moves a specific way
If you experience additional symptoms such as increased pain, fever, balance issues, numbness, or if your symptoms last longer than 72 hours, contact your doctor.
From sleeping in the wrong position, overstraining during a workout, or an underlying condition; there are a variety of causes for a stiff neck. Common causes of a crick in the neck may include:
- Heavy labor or poor lifting posture
- Not enough support on your neck during rest
- Poor head and neck posture
- Reaching or looking a certain way for an extended period
- Sleeping in an abnormal position
- Whiplash injury
In a small percentage of cases, a stiff neck can be a symptom of a cervical spine condition such as pinched nerves, arthritis, herniated discs, spinal fractures, spinal stenosis, and spondylosis.
How Do You Treat a Stiff Neck?
The treatment options will vary depending on the cause of your stiff neck, but fortunately, in many cases the condition can resolve on its own and typically disappear within a few days.
At-home remedies for a stiff neck can include rest, as well as stretches such as slowly rocking your head side to side or rotating it in a circle, might relieve stiff muscles or irratated nerves. A supportive pillow, changes in posture, and sleeping position can also be good lifestyle changes to include in your treatment plan if this condition occurs chronically.
Heat and ice therapy can help to loosen stiff muscles and relax the nerves in your spine and reduce swelling of the soft tissues. We recommend only applying ice and heat in 10-15 increments switching between the two to determine which is more effective for your condition.
If you find these home remedies are ineffective, you may benefit from a focused examination by one of our chiropractors. Your chiropractic examination will include a thorough orthopedic and neurological assessment, and a careful evaluation of your spine for any misalignments. If found, there are several treatment options. Massage and manual manipulation can be an excellent way to release tension, improve joint motion in your spine, and reduce inflammation. Additionally, your chiropractor will recommend stretches and exercises to strengthen the neck and back muscles and improve mobility and range of motion in the affected area.
If your pain is caused by an underlying medical condition, we will refer you to your primary care provider.
In some cases, this painful ailment can be prevented by observing better posture while doing daily activities, stretching your neck muscles throughout the day )including in the shower!), and sleeping in a supportive position. However, should you experience a crick in the neck, we are here to help you find relief.
For more information on how to relieve a stiff neck or to schedule an appointment, contact The Center for Spine, Sport, & Physical Medicine today.