Crick in the Neck – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Crick in the Neck

After waking up in the morning, you yawn, rub your eyes, and stretch a bit. But, what will you do when you feel discomfort in your neck? It indicates a crick in the neck. Your neck has become stiff, and you cannot comfortably move it. There may be several reasons behind the stiffness of your neck. You may also look for the best treatment for this condition.

Crick in the neck – know the symptoms

Although it is uncomfortable to have cricks in your neck, you may not feel pain. But, the condition is painful for those who have some injury in their necks. To confirm that it is a neck crick, you have to check these symptoms-

  • Stiffness in your neck and the adjacent muscles
  • Mobility problems affecting the motion of your neck- You cannot turn your head properly.
  • A popping sound in your neck

More about the neck crick and its causes

Crick in the neck refers to the condition when there are thoracic spine issues around your neck. Moreover, injuries in the neck and strain of your back muscles may also cause this condition.

However, neck crick also indicates a series of neck pain. You would feel that something was stuck in your neck. The facet joint connecting cervical vertebrae may also have a problem and cause neck crick.

There are several reasons behind crick in the neck.

  • Muscle spasm– The involuntary muscle contractions can be the result of muscle overuse and injury. Your neck muscles and upper back part have a risk of spasms due to the stress.
  • Your neck needs to sustain your head that has a good amount of weight. The improper posture of the neck and head can increase your head weight. It will stress your upper back muscles and neck muscles. Researchers have found that muscle spasm is one of the causes of neck cricks.
  • Cervical spinal stenosis– It is another condition causing the lack of room in your spinal canal. Stenosis is also the result of bone spurs due to osteoarthritis in your spine. This condition will cause radiculopathy. 
  • Cervical herniated disc– Your intervertebral disc has a soft internal layer, and while the layer strikes the outer layer, you will have a herniated disc. There is not much space in the spinal canal. Thus, herniation can press on your nerve root, and the herniated disc will result in neck pain. The pain will slowly reach your arms.

Some life-threatening conditions can cause neck crick

  • Heart attack– When you have a risk of strokes, you will feel stiffness. Without proper treatment, it may result in serious conditions. You must check symptoms like breathing problems, chest pain, intense jaw pain, limb numbness, and dizziness.
  • Meningitis– It is an infection of membranes protecting your spinal cord and brain. Some common symptoms include confusion, high fever, headache, vomiting, rash, and sensitivity to light.
  • Cervical artery dissection– The torn neck arteries can cause this condition. Patients with this condition feel sharp pain and headache.

Other factors triggering the condition- Neck crick

  • Improper posture while doing computer works for several hours
  • Awkward sleeping position
  • The use of a pillow not compatible with your neck
  • Tech neck- It happens to persons who continuously look down at their tablet and mobile.
  • Emotional tension and stress may result in tightened neck muscles and shoulder muscles.
  • Lifting of a heavy object, which is not ergonomic

Injury in spinal cord and brain

A serious head injury can affect both the spinal cord and brain. This injury can result in medical emergencies and paralysis. After a brain injury, you must check for symptoms like neck stiffness, seizures, and problems in your thinking ability.

neck cricks

How long does the neck crick last?

In most cases, neck crick symptoms go away within a few hours. But, when the injury is the cause of the neck stiffness, they will last longer. As your lifestyle may cause neck crick, it will occur frequently.

Crick in the neck remedies

There are both medications and natural home remedies to prevent neck crick symptoms.

Ice and heat

Both ice and heat play a role in reducing inflammation while increasing the flow of blood to your neck. They also help you in healing your injury within a short time. You have to apply ice and heat packs with a gap of 20 minutes. However, in some cases, one treatment (heat/ice) is more effective, and therefore, you may continue with that one.

Stretching and physical workouts

Stretching and other workouts are best for fighting against neck cricks. However, they are especially effective when muscle spasm, improper posture, muscle weakness, and neck stiffness are the cause of neck stiffness.

Researchers have noticed that continuous stretching of your shoulders and neck helps in fighting against tension and muscle pain. Moreover, a scientific study has revealed that exercise is effective for treating whiplash.

To relieve the neck crick, you may do-

  • Pilates and gentle yoga poses
  • Move your shoulders up and down
  • Move your head towards your chest and other directions

You must not forcefully stretch your neck, as it can intensify your pain. Moreover, you can take intervals after every hour of workouts. It is also safe to walk gently to avoid stiffness in different body parts, including the neck.

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Move your neck slowly

You might have felt neck crick symptoms. You have to find how the stiff neck makes you feel uncomfortable. Be patient while making any decision regarding neck pain. You can roll your neck gently from one side to another. Check your reaction to this movement. Nod your head up and down to know how the neck crick hinders the movement. Never move your neck forcefully, as it can be painful for you.

Neck crick treatment with medications

Osteoarthritis and other underlying conditions can cause neck crick problems. You have to consult a doctor to cure this condition. Your healthcare specialist may provide you with some treatment options like medical workouts, physical therapy, surgery, and steroid injections. OTC anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen minimize neck stiffness, causing pain. Antibiotics are effective when meningitis is the cause of neck crick. Thus, consult your healthcare specialist before deciding on any treatment for a neck crick.

Some advanced techniques of treating neck cricks

In a few cases, medications and home remedies are not effective for treating crick in the neck. Your healthcare provider will ask you to undergo MRI and X-rays. It will help him in identifying the cause of the neck crick. The specialist will apply some processes to treat the condition.

  • Laserdisc decompression– It relies on laser energy that affects the disc’s internal pressure.
  • Laminectomy– Laminectomy removes the back part of a vertebra. The spinal canal finds some space and reduces the strain on your nerve roots.
  • Anterior cervical discectomy- This procedure removes the affected discs while fusing vertebrae together. It helps in the alleviation of the pain.
  • Microdiscectomy– It removes a part of your intervertebral disc compressing your nerves. 
  • Cervical spinal fusion– It is another treatment preventing the shift of vertebrae. It is especially useful for those having spinal stenosis.
  • Cervical disc replacement– This process helps in replacing the disc with an artificially created disc.

Avoiding the neck crick in the future

There are some ways of preventing occasional neck cricks:

  1. Your first task is to create a workstation, which promotes a neutral position of your spine. Make sure that your PC monitor is at your eye level. Thus, focus on your workspace to avoid neck stiffness.
  2. Posture is another important factor in this respect. You can invest in a standing desk to set up a better workstation. You may also sit and stand alternately to avoid posture problems. 
  3. While lying in bed, you can look for better pillows. The use of multiple pillows will make your head bend one way. A single soft pillow does not provide you with the ultimate comfort.
  4. A special ergonomic pillow may not be necessary. Although it is useful, you may achieve the ergonomics by using a new pillow. It will save costs, and you will feel comfortable.
  5. You must also use speakerphones and headphones to avoid neck crick. Some people have a habit of holding their mobile between shoulders and ears. They also look down at the phone screen continuously. It will result in muscle strain. That is why the best alternative is to put on headphones.
  6. Moreover, while carrying heavy bags, you have to distribute the weight between two shoulders. Heavyweight may result in neck pain.

These tips will help you to avoid neck crick.


The crick in the neck will make youfeel much distressed. You may also feel scared, especially when you have the neck crick for the first time. For some individuals, there is no relationship between neck crick and any other medical condition. They can try to be patient and do some stretches to alleviate neck crick symptoms. It is also good to rely on the physician’s instructions to deal with the neck crick.

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