A couple of weeks ago I must have slept in an awkward position because I woke up with a crick in my neck. The pain was at the base of my neck on the right side which meant I couldn’t tilt my head or turn to the right. Not only was it incredibly uncomfortable, it made everyday activities such as driving very difficult.
It’s a fairly common injury which, if not too severe, can be treated at home and I thought I would share with you how I managed and self-treated my crick.
- An over-the-counter anti-inflammatory for the first 24 hours can help relieve the pain and reduce any inflammation. Make sure it won’t negatively interact with any other medication you are taking.
- Treat the area with heat and cold. Start with an ice pack on your neck for anything up to 20 minutes. A pack of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works really well. Then swap to a heat pad for up to 10 minutes. You can continued this treatment throughout the day but give yourself a 1/2 hour break in between each treatment.
- Try some slow, gentle stretches. Move your head slowly side to side and rotate to look left and right. Drop your chin down towards your chest but avoid tipping your head too far back. Only move as far as the pain will allow – don’t push through the pain. You could perform these stretches in the shower with warm water directed at your neck.
- Wear a scarf or roll neck jumper to keep your neck warm. This also feels supportive and comforting when you’re in pain.
- Very gentle massage. Ask your partner to gentley massage your neck and shoulder area. It’s important that they keep the pressure light. A little olive or almond oil will provide a nice glide on the skin and you could add some lavender, black pepper or marjoram essential oils to make the massage even more beneficial.
- Check your posture. Especially if you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or standing in one position for too long. Make sure your pillows are not too high/low and avoid sleeping on your front as this forces you to twist your neck.
Usually the pain will have subsided after 3-4 days and after a week or so you should have regained almost full range of movement. If you’re still experiencing pain after a week it is a good idea to seek medical advice from either your doctor, an osteopath or chiropractor. Any residual muscular tightness can be treated with a deeper massage from a qualified practitioner.