Neck Crick – What is It?
A neck crick is simply a very sore neck that hurts constantly until it either naturally heals, or you get effective treatment. The trouble is, that when your neck is sore, even an hour seems like an eternity.
Causes of a Neck Crick
The cause of the physical pain associated with a neck crick is usually due to impingement of a nerve. There are many nerves that run through the neck area and because of this, it is very common for people to suffer pain at some point in their lives. Either due to direct injury (for example an accident), or indirect injury (poor posture for years), a nerve becomes “pinched”. The pain associated with the impingement then starts a vicious cycle of inflammation and muscle tension that keeps pressure on the nerve. Nasty.
What Can You Do?
This depends on a number of factors including how long the neck crick has been there, the root cause, and whether or not you have access to expert medical help. (As with any significant pain, it is important that you visit a medical professional and get an expert opinion.)
You may find that you benefit greatly from simply resting the injured area and by avoiding any activities that tend to worsen your symptoms. In many cases, that will be all you need to do. Doctors sometime prescribe a simple neck brace that immobilises the neck. While this treatment seems to have fallen out of fashion, it can provide relief when the primary cause is an inflamed muscle.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen may help reduce swelling. In more severe cases a physician may prescribe a steroid injections (typically cortisone). These injections may reduce swelling and allow inflamed nerves to recover.
A skilful physiotherapist, or chiropractor, can manipulate your neck to free immobile vertebrate and improve flexibility. A classic manoeuvre is where the patient relaxes their neck and the chiropractor sharply twists it, often making a distinct “crack” sound. If successful, the patient can often feel relief as pressure comes off the impinged nerve. This is a treatment for trained professionals only!
Gentle, but regular stretching can definitely help in cases where muscle tension is a primary cause of the nerve pressure.
This is our main area of interest and we believe in many (most) cases of a neck crick, poor posture has directly led to the problem. You can read our post about the dangers of a forward head posture here. A quick summary is that every centimetre that your head is in front of its optimum position means an incredible increase in the strain on your neck muscles. This tension can very easily lead to pressure on a nerve, and the cycle of misery starts. The other issue with poor neck posture, is that you lose the natural curvature of your upper spine which reduces the space between the vertebrate, and you guessed it, pressure gets applied to a nerve!
Some posture correction products that can be helpful include:
General posture: Lumo Lift (This is the best product that we have tested for general posture correction.)
Ideally, you need to start working on improving your posture before you end up with a cricked neck. However, if it is already sore, our advice is to start taking an anti-inflammatory, book an appointment with a chiropractor, and learn how to stretch your neck. Once the issue is under control, start taking your posture seriously, or the cycle will start again.