A crick in the neck is a minor muscle injury. Not all people with neck stiffness have pain. However, many people who develop neck pain may have another underlying condition.
Some common sensations associated with a crick in the neck include neck stiffness, a tight sensation, the feeling that the neck needs to be cracked, stiffness of the muscles around the neck such as the shoulders and upper chest, difficulty moving the neck in certain directions, and a painful sensation when rotating the neck.
What Is A Crick In The Neck?
Crick in the neck is an imprecise term that describes several problems of the cervical and thoracic spine, such as diseases or injuries of the neck structure and strains of the upper back muscles.
The term “crick in neck” describes a subset of neck pain that feels as if something is stuck in or around the neck or in the general facets of the joints that connect the cervical vertebrae. The term is often used interchangeably with neck pain or a stiff neck.
What Causes A Crick In The Neck?
A crick in the neck can be caused by muscle spasms (involuntary muscle contractions). Muscles in the neck and upper back are prone to cramps under strain. Muscle spasms can result from injury or muscle overuse.
However, the most common cause of a crick in the neck is simply sleeping awkwardly or in a slumped position. Often, the injury can occur during exercise or weight training.
The neck supports the head, which weighs about as much as a bowling ball. Poor head and neck posture multiply the weight on the spine, putting strain on the neck and upper back muscles. Many experts believe muscle spasms are responsible for most neck stiffness and pain.
The spinal canal does not have much room for herniated discs and is at risk of pressing on nerve roots.
A herniated disc is a soft inner layer of the intervertebral disc that is punched through the hard outer layer. Herniated discs in the cervical spine can cause neck pain, but they are more likely to cause radiculopathy or pain emanating from an arm.
A herniated disc and cervical stenosis are more likely to cause radiculopathy than neck pain.
Cervical spine stenosis means insufficient space in the spinal canal for the spinal cord and the nerves that develop from it.
This stenosis can lead to bone spurs, which can cause osteoarthritis of the spine. Radiculopathy can also affect the upper back and shoulders but is usually only felt with neck pain.
How To Get Rid Of A Crick In Your Neck
Here are some strategies you can apply to eliminate a crick in the neck. Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Naproxen, Aleve) can help with joint pain.
If you wake up in the night with neck stiffness, make sure to eat before taking a painkiller to avoid the risk of damaging your stomach lining.
Use A Heating Pad
Applying a heating pad to the area for 8-10 minutes is a way to use warmth to relieve a tingling sensation in the neck.
Applying heat to the site of your stiff muscles will help loosen them. When your muscles are heated, the nerves in your spine relax, and your range of motion returns.
How To Massage A Crick In Your Neck
If you don’t have a heating pad handy, try placing uncooked rice in clean socks and heating it for 30 seconds in the microwave.
As a result, rice and socks act as a way to apply warmth to soothe your shoulder and neck areas. You can also use hot water or steam to massage your neck and relax, such as hydrotherapy. Standing in the hot shower jet and massaging the neck is enough to get the muscles moving.
Try A Sauna To Get Rid Of The Crick In Your Neck
You can also try to visit a sauna or take a long hot bath to achieve the same effect. Gentle stretching can free the nerves in the neck from the stiff muscles surrounding them.
You can try to lie on your back, raise your arms to shoulder level and move your head from one side to the other.
Try to swing your head side by side or roll it back and forth to feel the tension and gravity on your neck as you circle your head.
Other Ways To Relieve Crick In Neck
Breathe deeply, and moving through stretching is key to relieving your stiff muscles. If you feel severe pain, stop stretching immediately to prevent you from pulling the muscle and exacerbating your discomfort.
A professional can assess the tingling sensation in the neck and develop a program to relieve neck pain. A chiropractor or physiotherapist may suggest your posture and lifestyle prevent future neck stiffness.
Use a comfortable desk or chair to support your neck. Evaluate your posture and consider physical therapy if you fall over or have difficulty sitting upright for a long time.
A professional should observe your training form and evaluate if you get a crick in the neck while exercising. Talk to your doctor to see if neck exercises are good for your health.
If neck pain is so severe that it persists for weeks or months, restricts the mobility of the head, radiates to the shoulders, or feels particularly bad in the morning, you should consult a doctor.
Some studies suggest that exercise and neck training can reduce chronic or recurrent neck pain, but not necessarily the specific cause.
Try stretching your neck muscles several times a day, especially if you wake in the morning or sit for a long time. Stretching warms the muscles and makes them less stiff.
When To See A Doctor
Depending on the diagnosis, you may need additional treatment or surgery to relieve the pain from the crick in the neck and return to normal activities.
Sometimes, the cause may be an underlying physical problem such as arthritis, infection, or a compressed nerve. Fever, weakness, numbness in the arms, or other red flags can justify an additional assessment.