Most of us have experienced a crick in the neck at some point in our lives, and while it is usually a relatively minor condition that clears up on its own within a few days, it can be quite painful, making it difficult to perform basic, everyday tasks. A crick in the neck can also interfere with your ability to get a decent night of sleep, which can make you feel extra miserable. If you want to know how to get rid of a crick in the neck fast, give some of the tips and tricks below a try!
What Is a Crick in the Neck?
While not a medical term, a ‘crick in the neck’ is commonly used to describe stiffness and discomfort in the neck and shoulder muscles. Unlike chronic neck pain, a crick in the neck tends to be an isolated incident caused by holding your neck in an awkward position for a prolonged period of time, sleeping incorrectly, improper form while training, etc. A crick in the neck is more uncomfortable than it is painful, although it can limit your range of motion.
What Causes a Crick in the Neck?
- Sitting or sleeping in an awkward position
- Sitting at a computer for prolonged periods of time
- Poor posture
- Muscle weakness and/or spasms
- Minor injuries such as strains and sprains
While a crick in the neck is usually a minor and isolated incident that can be treated at home, be sure to consult with a doctor if it is accompanied by a fever, change in consciousness, confusion, pain/numbness in the limbs, weakness/dizziness, nausea/vomiting, chest pain, difficulty breathing, intense headache, jaw pain, seizures, or paralysis.
How to Get Rid of a Crick in the Neck
A crick in the neck typically resolves on its own in a few days to a week, but it can be extremely uncomfortable, limiting your range of motion and ability to perform everyday tasks. If you want to know how to get rid of a crick in the neck fast, these tips and tricks can help reduce inflammation and relax your muscles to make you more comfortable.
While this may not be your ideal option if you prefer to use natural remedies for common ailments, over the counter pain medication can be a lifesaver if you have a crick in the neck. It will help reduce inflammation and make you more comfortable, allowing you to get the most out of the additional remedies for a crick in the neck noted below.
Heat and/or ice
Applying heat to your neck and shoulders will help reduce muscle spasms, while ice will reduce inflammation. You can experiment with both to see which brings you the most relief, or alternate the 2 to reap the benefits of each. If you want to apply heat, Amazon sells neck and shoulder heating pads, and most pharmacies sell microwaveable heating pads that can be easily contoured to the affected area. If you want to apply ice, a bag of frozen peas is probably the most effective option as it will mold to the area and can be refrozen and used over and over again! Just be careful not to eat the peas as freezing and unfreezing them can make them unsafe to eat.
Another option to help reduce muscle spasms is to stand under a hot shower, allowing the jets of your shower head to gently massage your neck and shoulders. This will help relax your muscles and (hopefully) allow for greater mobility.
Gently stretching the muscles in your neck and shoulders can also help alleviate the pain and discomfort of a crick in the neck. You want to proceed with caution when doing this, and only stretch as much as your muscles will allow. Rock your head from side to side, and then forward and back to help loosen your muscles. Go slowly, breathe deeply, and stop if you feel sharp pain.
Massage therapy and/or chiropractic care
If your crick in the neck is causing considerable pain and/or impairing your mobility, a visit to a licensed massage therapist or chiropractor may be in order. They can help loosen the affected muscles and provide you with a stretching routine to help you recover sooner.
How to Sleep with a Crick in the Neck
A crick in the neck can make sleep feel next to impossible. It can be difficult to get comfortable, and when you do manage to fall asleep, even the slightest movement can cause you to jerk awake in pain again. If you want to known how to sleep with a crick in the neck, consider taking an over the counter pain medication like Tylenol or Advil at bedtime, and give some of these ideas a try!
Stretch your neck first
Before you attempt to sleep with a crick in the neck, try to do a few stretches to help loosen the muscles first. As mentioned earlier, you should never force these stretches. Breathe deeply while gently moving your head from side to side, and then backwards and forwards, and stop immediately if you experience sharp pain.
Sleep in the right position
If you have a crick in the neck, you want to avoid sleeping on your stomach as this position forces your head to one side for a prolonged period of time, which can put excess stress on your neck. Sleeping on your back will help maintain the natural curves of your spine, and sleeping on your side will keep your head neutral. Give both positions a try to see which is most comfortable.
Avoid high pillows
To minimize neck pain, you want to maintain the natural curves of your spine as much as possible. While plush, fluffy pillows may sound luxurious, they can force your neck to bend, which will aggravate a crick in the neck even further. Opt for a thinner pillow instead.
Use a cervical memory foam pillow
Cervical memory foam pillows fit to the curve of your head and neck, keeping your spine neutral and allowing your muscles to relax.
Sleep with a pillow between your knees
If you’re a side sleeper, placing a pillow between your knees will help keep your spine neutral and aligned for greater comfort.
Sleep with a pillow under your knees
If you’re a back sleeper, try placing a pillow under your knees. This can be especially helpful if your crick in the neck is accompanied by back pain.
Use a neck pillow
If you have a crick in the neck and have to sleep sitting up (for example, if you are traveling in a vehicle, or your suffer from additional back pain that requires you to sleep upright in a recliner), a memory foam neck pillow can help support your neck and prevent it from dropping to the side (which can cause you to wake up in terrible pain) as your body relaxes during sleep.
While a crick in the neck is usually nothing to be concerned with and often clears up within a few days, it can make you feel pretty miserable. I hope the tips and ideas in this post help make you feel more comfortable and allow you to reap the restorative benefits of a good night of sleep while your body heals!