How to Treat a Crick in Your Neck – A heating pad and stretching are all some people need to get over a crick in the neck, says Dr. Anderson. Other times, you may benefit from physical therapy or targeted exercises. Here are common ways your healthcare provider might suggest treating a crick in your neck:
- Use a heating pad. “We’re trying to loosen up or relax stiff muscles or joints, and the heating pad is really helpful for that,” says Dr. Anderson. Use the heating pad for 20 minutes on, and 30 minutes off. “Check your skin after the first two minutes to make sure the heat is not too much,” says Dr. Anderson.
- Stretch tight muscles. “Your body tightens muscles because it’s trying to protect the area,” says Dr. Anderson. “By stretching, you’re telling your body, ‘I don’t want this muscle to be tight anymore. It’s okay to move this.'” See below for some good exercises.
- Physical therapy. This is typically the first nonsurgical treatment doctors prescribe for neck pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A physical therapist will design exercises targeted to your specific issues, strengthening and stretching key areas, says Dr. Anderson. “For example, if the postural muscles in the upper back are involved, we’d start by building those up, so we have a better base of support for the neck.” You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.
- Massage. Research shows that massage therapy provides immediate relief to neck and shoulder pain by increasing blood flow, loosening connective tissues, and improving muscle flexibility.
- Strengthen your neck. People tend to stretch and forget about strengthening, says Dr. Anderson. “We think of our neck as this fragile thing that doesn’t need to be stronger, but isometric exercises can strengthen our neck and make it less vulnerable.” Isometric strengthening involves engaging the muscle against resistance while holding it in a steady position. Hold each move below for 5 seconds, doing 10 repetitions. When you’re ready, progress to holding each for 10 seconds. Do these daily, or at least a few times a week.
- Put your hand on the side of your head and push into it, as if bending your head toward your shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
- Put a hand on your forehead and look down while pushing into it (to improve flexion).
- Put your hand on the back of your head and look up while pushing into it (to improve extension)
- Put your hand against your temple and turn into it (to improve rotation). Repeat on the other side
- Pain medications. NSAIDs such as naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil), and aspirin are first-line remedies for neck pain. For acute pain, your doctor may prescribe them in combination with other medications, such as acetaminophen, oral corticosteroids, or muscle relaxants.
- Modify activity. You may want to adjust your usual activities for a couple of days to give overworked muscles a break. Remember: Healing happens mostly from moving, not resting. Exercise, stretches, and daily activity are key to long-term recovery and preventing future pain.
Here are some exercises that help relieve stiff, painful neck muscles. “I encourage people to incorporate them into posture breaks during their workday, in the morning and afternoon, so they take a break from holding their posture or hunching over a computer,” says Dr.
Anderson. The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises.
Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.
Should I stretch out a crick in my neck?
Slept on a new pillow? Painted the ceiling all weekend? Spent hours bent over your laptop? Any of these activities could cause a crick in your neck, a term for stiff, painful neck muscles. A crick in the neck usually happens when you strain your neck muscles and muscles that support it, like those in the shoulders and upper back, says Cody Anderson, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health.
- Less commonly, a crick in the neck can also signal an irritated joint.
- Whatever the cause, that painful, tight feeling – like you can’t comfortably turn, move, or even hold up your head – can put a damper on your usual activities and hobbies.
- You can usually relieve a crick in the neck with at-home remedies, especially gentle stretches.
Movement is a key way to heal and prevent future pain. In this resource, we’ll explain what causes a crick in the neck and how to get relief, including effective neck stretches and strengthening exercises from our physical therapists.
Can you sleep off a crick in your neck?
How to Get Rid of a Crick in Your Neck – Most of the time, a crick in the neck will go away on its own. So what’s the problem? Before it goes away, neck pain can wreak havoc on your quality of life. Some neck pains can stay with you all day so there’s never any escape and prevent you from sleeping restfully (or at all), which further compounds the misery.
- And, that’s not even accounting for a neck crick that doesn’t go away on its own.
- What can you do about it? Quite a bit, actually.
- Going to a spine specialist is a good idea, but be aware that he or she will want you to try conservative, nonsurgical methods of treatment before any sort of surgery will be considered.
Again, remember that most cricks in the neck resolve on their own, so by the time surgery is scheduled most will be long gone. Instead, try these home remedies first:
Ice, heat or both : Heat can help loosen up a muscle spasm, whereas ice can ease inflammation. Try alternating if you’re not sure which will help more. Rest : Resting a sore muscle is usually a good idea, but avoid long periods of bed rest. Back pain—including neck pain—needs some measure of activity, or you risk becoming deconditioned. Over-the-counter medicines : Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can alleviate pain and bring down some inflammation. Lifestyle changes : Try the best sleeping position for neck pain,
If these conservative treatments fail to get rid of your neck crick, or if it hangs around longer than a few days, a visit with a spine specialist is probably warranted. A spine expert can give you access to other, possibly more effective nonoperative treatments, including:
Prescription-strength NSAIDs: Similar to over-the-counter medications, but stronger.Physical therapy: Physical therapists use various methods to control neck pain, including exercises to strengthen neck and back muscles, heat and ice therapy, electrostimulation, massage and laser therapy.Corticosteroid injections: These are powerful anti-inflammatory medications that can relieve inflammation for months.
Still in pain? It’s time for an imaging study (X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI). This can help you healthcare provider determine what exactly is causing the crick in your neck. Armed with this knowledge, he or she may recommend one of the following procedures:
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) : ACDF removes damaged discs and fuses vertebrae together to eliminate painful movement. Laser disc decompression : Laser disc decompression uses laser energy to change the internal pressure of a disc, causing any herniations to suck back in. Laminectomy : Laminectomy is the removal of the back portion of a vertebra, giving the spinal canal more room and alleviating any pressure on nerve roots. Microdiscectomy : Microdiscectomy removes any portion of an intervertebral disc that’s causing nerve compression. Cervical spinal fusion : Often used for spinal stenosis, spinal fusion ensures that vertebrae do not shift or move, which can put more pressure on nerves and nerve roots. Cervical disc replacement : This procedure replaces a damaged disc with an artificial one,
If you have a crick in the neck that just won’t quit despite at-home remedies, request an appointment at Edison Spine Center. We’ll make a diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you, your condition and your life situation.
Should I sleep on the side of my neck that hurts?
Research shows that sleeping on your back or side may ease neck pain. A medium-firm mattress and a supportive pillow can help keep your neck in a neutral position, preventing new or worsening pain.
Is it OK to massage stiff neck?
Risks of Massage Therapy – Massage therapy for the neck is a relatively safe treatment. Some people may experience increased neck soreness and/or swelling shortly after a massage, but these side effects typically do not last long. In rare cases when a massage is applied too hard or if a preexisting injury exists in the neck, massage can lead to serious complications, such as vertebral artery damage and stroke.4 Dutta G, Jagetia A, Srivastava AK, Singh D, Singh H, Saran RK.
What is a neck kink?
KINK in my Neck | Premier Chiropractic & Natural Medicine A lot of my Monday morning patients will walk into my Highlands Ranch Chiropractic office stating that they slept wrong over the weekend and have a “kink” in their neck. What the heck does that mean and why did it happen to me? A “kink” in your neck can usually mean 1 of 2 things.
- It can be that the muscles in your neck became tight from the way you were sleeping, now they are mad and inflamed, and when you try to turn your head in the morning you feel that pinching sensation.
- You do not have full range of motion of your neck and it does not feel good.
- Usually, after your morning shower the tight muscles start to loosen up and by mid-morning it is gone and you have full flexibility and range of motion back in your neck.
In a more severe case you may have actually misaligned or subluxated one or more of your neck vertebrae. This means a bone in your neck is not in the right position and it can be putting pressure or even pinching the nerves that come out of your neck.
- In this case, after your morning shower or morning walk, the pinch sticks around.
- Sometimes for much longer than a day and it may even cause headaches as the day goes on.
- When this happens you should see your Highlands Ranch chiropractor as soon as you can.
- A chiropractic adjustment will realign your vertebrae, calm down the muscles, and take the pinching off the nerve.
You may feel better immediately, or it may still take a day or 2 to get you relief. If you ever wake up with a kink in your neck, know that we are here to help. Regular chiropractic care will also help these morning kinks greatly diminish. With regular chiropractic adjustments, the vertebrae will be more likely to stay in alignment no matter what your activity level.
- Ice and stretching will always help calm down the muscle and reduce inflammation as well.
- So get rid of those morning kinks and start seeing your chiropractor on a more regular basis.
- Our Highlands Ranch Chiropractic clinic will always get you in on the same day and we regularly accept walk-ins.
- So don’t wait, get out of pain today! You can get more information on neck pain on our website at and many more health articles on our blog at,
: KINK in my Neck | Premier Chiropractic & Natural Medicine
Why is my neck crunchy when I rub it?
Benign causes – A popping, cracking, or crunching sound in the neck or other joints is not necessarily a sign that anything is wrong. It is a common occurrence, even in younger people with no history of joint damage or injury. Two common benign causes include air escaping from the synovial fluid that surrounds and lubricates the joints, and tight ligaments snapping off of one bone and onto another.
Is it better to move a stiff neck?
Stretch but avoid sudden movements – Stretching can help relieve pain and stiffness and prevent it from recurring in the future. It’s important to stretch gently and slowly, making sure you always breathe in and out fully. Sudden movements, or over-stretching, can cause more pain or injury.
Rolling your shoulders backward and then forward in a circle Pressing your shoulder blades together lightly, holding the position for a few seconds, and then repeatingSlowly turning your head from side to side, as far as is comfortable