You may have heard some people say that they have a “crick in their neck” when describing their neck pain or you maybe you’ve used this expression yourself. But have you ever wondered about what it really means? Is it even a real medical term?
A crick is not an actual medical diagnosis, so it is often used to describe different conditions. However, it is often associated with stiffness or pain in the neck or back regions, most often caused by sleeping in an awkward position. If you toss and turn frequently during the night and wake up twisted like a pretzel, you’ve probably experienced a crick in the neck. But knocking your neck out of place when you sleep isn’t the only cause of a crick. Other causes include:
Arthritis, disk-related pain and myofascial pain syndrome are other common causes of a crick in the neck.
A crick in the neck may not be solely confined to the neck. The pain may radiate down to the shoulder or all the way down to the back and will make it difficult to turn your head in one or more directions. Swelling of the neck or shoulder is another common sign of a crick and will usually accompany the mentioned symptoms.
But sometimes a crick in the neck really isn’t a crick in the neck; it’s possible that it is something more serious. In this case, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to determine what the real cause is and how to treat it. But how do you know when that pain in the neck is actually something more serious? Here are a few things to watch out for:
If you experience these symptoms, you may want to head to your regular doctor, who will likely refer you to a chiropractor or neurologist so they can pinpoint the problem and provide you with specific ways to treat it.
If you don’t think your crick in the neck is caused by a serious issue, you may want to treat it yourself. There are quite a few things you can do at home to get rid of your crick, including:
One remedy that many people commonly use for sore muscles is heat, or a mixture of heat and ice over a period of two days. While this may work for some people, some doctors do not recommend this practice. Using heat compresses, heating pads and hot showers may soften the neck muscles for a little while, but once the heat has worn off, the crick will be back and the muscles may be in a worse state than before, especially if the crick is caused by a muscle tear.
While that crick in the neck may be a literal and figurative pain in the neck, it probably isn’t caused by anything too serious. However, it’s better to be safe and schedule a check-up with a healthcare professional to make sure the pain you’re feeling isn’t something serious.