Crick in the neck is a term often used to describe strain or stiffness in muscles around the neck and sometimes also used non-specifically cervic or thoracic spine problems.
It is different from normal neck pain. There are various reasons which cause it.
Crick in the neck gives a really uncomfortable feeling as if something is stuck. It can hinder the proper movement of muscles and rotation of the neck can be painful. There is a popping sensation in the neck accompanied by pain in the muscles of the shoulders and upper chest.
Crick in the neck can be easily treated using home remedies.
Causes for Crick in the Neck
There can be many causes relates to a crick in the neck. It usually occurs while performing daily activities improperly.
Muscle spasms, which are the involuntary contractions of muscles, result due to extra pressure caused on the muscles of the neck. Awkward positions of head and neck while sleeping or sitting can lead to it. This in turn is because the vertebra shifts from its normal position temporarily.
Sometimes the nerve is also pressed or strain is produced on the muscles of the neck making it stiff. It can move limitedly until the crick is healed. Overuse of muscles can also cause a crick in the neck. The wrong form during exercise, stretching, or weightlifting can result in it.
There can be other underlying reasons which include-
1. Cervical Herniated Disc
2. Cervical Spinal Stenosis
4. Infection in the Body
Poor posture, slouching in front of a computer for a long duration, poor muscle strength and flexibility can also be the causes of the crick in the neck.
Crick in the neck can be cured at home using different methods but you might also need to see a doctor in certain cases. Treatments that can be used are-
1. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
OTC drugs can be used to relieve the pain. A few medications that can be used are-
1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil or Motrin
3. Naproxen (Aleve)
Taking an antacid along with painkillers or consuming food before taking it is suggested to avoid problems such as acidity that can cause stomach issues. Medications in the form of cream or sprays can also be applies to the area of pain.
2. Heating Pad or Rice Sock
Using heat is a way to loosen up the stiff muscles of neck if there is a crick. Heat causes your muscles and nerves to relax and helps in increase of movement of neck.
You can use a heating pad for this purpose for a few minutes to heal it. If you don’t own a heating pad, put some uncooked rice in a sock and heat it in a microwave for about 30 seconds. Apply the warm rice sock on the area. It works just like a heating pad.
Ice can be used to reduce inflammation. If you are not sure whether to go with heat or ice, try alternating between the two.
Using hot water or steam is a way to calm and relax the muscles of your neck. Hot baths and showers produce relaxation and help to free the muscles which bring the normal movement back.
Getting someone to massage your neck is also a way to relax muscles and get rid of the crick. You can go for a steam room or hot bath to release the tension off your muscles and be normal again.
Although, stretching muscles so much that they cause your muscles to strain can be a cause of crick in the neck, light stretching can help you relieve of it.
There are some ways in which you can do this-
1. Lying down flat on your back with arms up to the level of shoulders, you can tilt your head sideways alternatively till you feel better
2. Sit straight and rotate your head gently and feel the relaxation in your muscles
3. You can also try yoga or Pilates
4. Mind muscle connection while doing these stretches is very important to build focus. It can be very relieving if done in a proper manner. Proper breathing technique should also be followed while doing these.
In case you feel your muscle being stretched is producing discomfort, you must stop it at once and take rest before you try some other method.
5. Chiropractor or Physical Therapist
When home remedies fail to work, it is advised to see a chiropractor or a physical therapist if there is no sign of healing. A chiropractor or physical therapist will use the correct way of treatment on you to relieve the pain and stiffness.
They may also ask you to make certain changes in your lifestyle and habits to minimise the chances of crick in the neck.
When to See a Doctor
If the situation gets worse and healing does not occur within 1 or 2 days, you must consult a doctor. Sometimes, crick in neck is just a symptom of some underlying serious issue.
If you experience numbness in any body part, headache or other such symptoms along with constant pain, there are chances of occurence of a more serious issue. You should see a doctor in such cases to avoid any more damage and for the treatment to begin as soon as possible.
Mostly, a crick in the neck heals on its own or by using home remedies and light exercises. If you experience cricks very often, there is a possibility that you need to change a few things.
1. While sitting, use a chair or couch where you can maintain a comfortable position
2. Your posture affects your body a lot, so, if you have problems such as hunch back or slouching posture while sitting, try exercises or see a specialist to correct it
3. Sleeping positions can sometimes be problematic for the spine. Try using good quality firm pillows to avoid odd positions that cause such problems as crick in the neck
4. Use stretching exercises daily for your neck to loosen up and relax your muscles. This can be done in the morning or after a long day of sitting to prevent stiffness and pain
5. Avoid improper forms of exercises especially while weight training. They can cause some serious injury as well. Ask your trainer to check your forms
6. Change your routine if it makes your lifestyle sedentary