“Neck cricks” are neck pains or stiffness and almost always bothersome. While only a specialist can determine the actual cause of most neck cricks, luckily, the majority of them can be cured at home. How to get rid of a crick in your neck? Here are four steps to help.
What Is a “Crick in the Neck”?
A crick in the neck can refer to many different neck or spine ailments but is typically the result of an injury in the general vicinity of the neck. Cricks are different from chronic pains, as chronic pains are frequently recurring. Additionally, cricks typically show more stiffness than distinct pain and sometimes restrict motion.
What Causes a Neck Crick?
While there are many possible causes for a crick in the neck, muscle spasms, injuries, or overuse are the most common. These injuries can occur from maintaining an uncomfortable position or poor posture, unusual stretching, or incorrect form while exercising.
How Long Does a Crick in the Neck Last?
How long a crick in the neck lasts depends on the cause of the ailment. While most neck cricks resolve in hours to a couple of days, those caused by muscular injury can last longer. A person’s general health can also affect the endurance of a neck cramp.
Those with underlying conditions, such as arthritis, will often need to treat the underlying disease to relieve their neck problems. Neck cricks due to lifestyle habits also tend to reoccur if those habits remain uncorrected.
Can You Pop a Crick in the Neck?
It is never advisable to pop a neck crick because cracking it can create more problems. Typically neck cricks are due to muscular discomfort, so popping your neck will not address the issue. Additionally, the popping sound doesn’t indicate successful readjustment.
Generally, popping joints gives temporary pain relief only because it releases endorphins. Overall it is best to leave joint cracking to the professionals, and if you must do something, adopt stretches instead.
Getting Rid of a Crick in Your Neck
Often neck cricks will resolve on their own with time. However, there are at-home remedies to help progress the healing process and reduce discomfort. Below are four steps to help treat neck cricks. You may not need to complete all of them, but instead, find the one or two most helpful for your situation.
1) Treat with Temperature
First, treat the area with either heat, cold, or both. Heat relaxes muscles and regains lost motion range. Apply a heating pad, or a clean sock filled with rice (microwaved for 30 seconds), to the area for 8-10 minutes. Ice is best when trying to reduce inflammation.
Use a thick fabric, like a towel, as a buffer between the ice and skin and apply for 20 minutes a few times per day. For more complicated cricks, try alternating heat and ice or test out hydrotherapy.
Treat intense pain and inflammation with an NSAID or acetaminophen medication. Common over-the-counter medications such as Aleve, Aspirin, or Ibuprofen can relieve pain and inflammation. Make sure to eat and take them with food to avoid potential stomach damage.
An obvious but necessary step is allowing your injury to rest so that it has time to heal correctly. Remember, the faster you recover, the quicker you will be back to performing at 100%. Rest cautiously, though, as too much rest can be more harm than good. The neck and back require a degree of liveliness to avoid deconditioning.
4) Make Small Daily Changes
Making small daily changes can alleviate pressure and pain as well as prevent further or recurring injury. Try changing sleeping positions and pillow arrangements to avoid awkward neck postures. Make adjustments when exercising to ensure you are executing movements correctly and avoiding damage-causing situations.
When to See a Doctor
If pain and problems persist for more than a few days or after applying home remedies, seek professional care. A chiropractor or regular physician will be able to pinpoint the problem and prescribe treatment. Most issues are handled with physical therapy, prescription pain killers, or corticosteroid injections.
More advanced cricks may require treating an underlying condition or even undergoing surgery. Extreme weakness, limb numbness, radiating pains, and co-occurring headaches are severe signs that the issue needs immediate attention and care.