Did you wake up with a crick in your neck?
What the heck is a “crick in the neck” anyway? You wake up with limited (and painful!) neck movement, usually on one side. Sometimes it just feels stiff, but other times it feels like bone-on-bone contact. Ouch.
Is it a pinched nerve? A slipped disc? While these things are possible (see your doctor if you have recurrent neck pain, or neck pain that includes other symptoms such as fever or shooting pain down the arm), neck cricks are usually due to an unassuming little muscle that runs from the side of your neck to the top of your shoulder blade. It’s called levator scapulae, and it’s responsible for raising your shoulder toward your ear.
This muscle gets irritable when it’s expected to hold heavy purses and backpacks, when you tilt your head to one side a lot (ever use your shoulder to hold your phone?), and when your posture is slouched. When this muscle gets ticked off, it can act like a brick wall that no amount of stretching will fix.
What to do? Ice and heat can help. Start with heat (a heating pad or sock full of uncooked rice, heated in the microwave) for 20 minutes, then switch to an ice pack for 10 minutes. Repeat this a couple of times through your day. You may be tempted to try to stretch it out yourself, but remember that levator scapulae is angry! Anything other than rest and gentle movement might further aggravate the area, increasing the minor crisis that your pain receptors are telling you about.
What else can you do? You guessed it: massage and/or acupuncture. While stretching and pressing on your neck might result in worse pain if you do it yourself, our skilled team at Written on the Body have a few tricks up their sleeves. We can focus on your neck and the surrounding muscles, gently and methodically to help your neck realize it can stop holding so tightly. In some instances adding hot stones or having an infrared sauna session prior to your treatment can facilitate even further healing. If you aren’t sure what approach is right for you, give us a call at 503-473-8515 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help you choose the appropriate treatment path.
Follow this up your appointment with us with some more of that ice and heat, and you should be feeling pretty good by the next day. If you get cricks frequently, come see us regularly and we may be able to prevent them entirely!
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*This post is an adaptation of an article written by Massage Sloth