I Have a Crick in My Neck … Can you Help with that?

On January 10th, 2012, posted in: Neck/Shoulder, Treatment Stories by 8 Comments
I Have a Crick in My Neck … Can you Help with that?

I occasionally get the above question, and the short answer is, “Yes, of course.” What people call a “crick in the neck” can come from a few different things, but in my experience, the majority of these painful scenarios occurs when the tissue surrounding a neck joint (called the joint capsule) gets pinched inside the joint. This can happen during sudden head movements, while lifting objects, and also when you sleep with your neck in an awkward position. The joint capsules have a lot of nerve endings and are very sensitive. When this occurs, the reaction of the muscles in the neck is to tighten up and protect the area, which is why a “crick in the neck” almost always has muscle spasms associated with it. These spasms add to the painful, stiff, debilitating condition that, for some, will go away within a few days but for many others will leave some level of tightness and pain for months. This can ultimately turn into a chronically stiff and often painful neck.

So what can be done for this condition? There are specific manual physical therapy techniques that can help resolve the joint capsule irritation and surrounding muscle spasms quite quickly. Joint tightness can also be identified in the evaluation process and effectively treated with hands-on mobilization. A home program of appropriate stretches and range-of-motion exercises are also very helpful. Here is a video showing the results that good Manual Therapy can provide for someone with this type of neck pain.

The take-home point is that this issue can usually be treated quite quickly, and it does not have to be a debilitating condition that lasts for weeks or months. If you are in the Austin area and are having neck pain like that described in this post, please feel free to call us (512-947-3705). We are happy to answer any questions you may have.

8 Responses to I Have a Crick in My Neck … Can you Help with that?
  1. I am in New Jersey and can’t afford to fly to Austin. Do you know anyone in this area or can you consult with me on exercise to do to get rid of neck strain. I get it from sitting wrong, sleeping wrong, or using a mobile device with my head tilted forward to long. You seem to have good knowledge of how the body works and I would like to talk with you.

    • Hi Elijah, It was nice speaking with you on phone a while back. Let me know how it went with finding a practitioner up there and how you’re feeling when you get a chance.

  2. Hey Jarod,

    I did end up finding a manual physical and sports therapist. It is going pretty good, I am finally starting to be 97% pain free and am getting a much stronger core. It took much longer than I was hoping and am still going to sessions regularly but I am making progress and that is important.


    Elijah Lynn

  3. Do you recommend anyone in Dallas?

    • Hi Mary,

      I unfortunately only know one PT in the Dallas very well (at the time of this writing), but he is actually a good 30-40 minutes outside Dallas as far as I remember — http://www.facebook.com/ptofmelissa

      If he’s too far from you, my suggestion would be to Google search in your area for “Manual Physical Therapy” and look for a Physical Therapist who has advanced training and preferably a Certification or Fellowship in “Manual Therapy”. (FYI – Beware of massage therapists or other Non-PTs using the term “manual therapy” though they’re education/training is nothing close to that of a Physical Therapist).

      Best of luck in your search!

  4. My aunt works at a chiropractor’s office up here in the mid cities area of DFW. He also has a massage business run out of the office. Is that a good place to go to get this problem worked out? I woke up with one on Sunday and hasn’t gotten any better yet. Also hasn’t gotten worse yet though.

    • Hi Chris,
      Physical Therapy is definitely different from massage and Chiropractic. With that said, they very well may do a great job on your neck and clear it up for you, but I’m personally (and professionally) hesitant about what we call “thrust manipulation” of the neck … especially when there are muscle spasms occurring (which is almost always the case with a neck “crick”). Not all chiropractors do this type of rapid adjustment treatment on the neck, but many do; so I would ask first and respectfully decline from that approach if they offer it. Manipulation of the neck can be done very effectively without the rapid movement and “pops” that many Manual-based practitioners attempt to achieve. You may consider searching for a Physical Therapist in your area with advanced training and certifications in “Manual Therapy.” I’m not discouraging the use of a chiropractor (I know many great ones here in Austin and utilize their treatments myself). I just think you should avoid having your neck “popped.” I hope this helps and wish you all the best.

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