Most of us have experienced difficulty in neck movements or feel it quite painful to rotate the neck in one direction. You probably have felt a kink in your neck in the morning when your neck muscles become tighter while you are sleeping. This muscle stiffness makes it difficult and triggers painful sensations while moving the neck. Your neck loses the flexibility to rotate and gets limited to only a few movements.
Neck pain is a common problem today as today, people spend most of their time on the computer and mobile devices, and that too, in unhealthy sitting angles. No wonder why today, many young aged individuals are suffering from neck issues, including lack of mobility and, more often, pop and cracks inside the neck. Neck kink, also known as ‘crick in the neck,’ is the shooting pain caused due to muscle spasms on the top of the shoulder, in the neck, or at the lower area of the skull. Most neck kinks are due to muscle spasms, while others may happen due to arthritis, cervical radiculopathy, cervical kyphosis, and Myofascial pain syndrome.
The Common Symptoms Of Kink In The Neck
Neck kinks or cricks in the neck are not necessarily painful but extremely discomforting. People who are not aware of how it feels to have a neck kink, there are a few signs of understanding that you have encountered this neck issue.
- You might feel stiffness in the neck muscles.
- You feel your neck not moving properly, and the head is not turning normally.
- You may hear a pop-up sound while moving your neck.
In case the pain in the neck develops into a fever, severe muscle stiffness that is not going away, or feel dizziness or weakness, these are the signs that you need to consult your healthcare provider immediately. Sometimes, one of the neck vertebrae gets misaligned, which implies pressure on the nerves coming out of the neck. It prolongs the pinching sensation for the day or even later, sometimes also resulting in a headache. Under such conditions, you should head to a qualified chiropractor to align misaligned vertebrae.
Causes of Neck Kink
Before knowing the causes that aggravate the neck’s kink, it is important to know the neck’s structure or the ‘cervical spine.’ The neck comprises seven vertebral segments, which are connected through facet joints. These joints are aligned in a way to promote various movements of the neck in different directions.
If there is any irritation in any of the joints, the muscle is pulled due to poor stretching, or the nerves coming out of the cervical spine are disturbed, it may result in causing localized pain in the neck on one side. Any disturbance between the vertebrae affects the most mobile segment of the facet joint. Also, people who spend most of their time looking down at the computer screens or using smartphones in constant directions or those who drive for too long are more likely to stress their muscles, resulting in muscle spasms and neck kink. If the kink or crick in the neck stays for longer and keeps coming back, it is called ‘chronic.’ Let’s look into the causes which result in neck kink.
Injury or Neck Strain
Neck stiffness or a kink in the neck usually results from any minor injury or strain that results from sitting in the same position for long hours, experiencing a sports injury, overstressing or overusing the neck muscles on one side, looking down at a specific object (smartphone, laptop, computer screens) over and over again.
Cervical Spondylosis majorly occurs for various reasons, including central cervical stenosis, cervical foraminal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease, which contribute to causing neck pain or numbness. Cervical Spondylosis or neck arthritis is also caused when an individual sits in the same position for several hours. The condition causes cricks in the neck and may also result in headaches, weakness in the legs and arms, and losing balance while walking.
Muscle spasms are the major cause of neck kink or stiffness, as cited by the majority of the psychiatrists. These involuntary muscle contractions result from muscle overuse, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance. A spasm may also arise due to any disturbance in the facet joint which connects vertebral segments.
Meninges is the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord, and any inflammation of the Meninges results in Meningitis. While viral meningitis is not fatal and recovers independently, bacterial meningitis is risky and even life-threatening. Any complication or inflammation on the spinal cord also affects neck mobility, and if an individual has developed meningitis at any point, he is more likely to suffer neck stiffness and neck kink more often.
How to Fix a Kink in Your Neck?
Multiple remedies, stretches, and treatments are used to fix a neck kink quickly, but you should never rely only on home remedies if the situation worsens. Neck stretches are usually recommended to treat cricks in the neck or stiffness in the neck muscles but be very careful while attempting these. Since the neck is among the most delicate body parts, any irregular stretch may worsen the condition. Take a slow start and gradually move to other stretches for a better outcome.
The neck stretches effectively reduce the neck kink and pain that arises while moving the neck. Some of the recommended cervical stretches are as follows:
It involves the movement of the neck downwards, i.e., moving your neck slowly while looking down. Each neck stretch should be 40 to 60 seconds, and while doing this, do not go over the limit where it starts triggering the painful sensation.
Cervical Rotation stretches
Relax your upper body and keep your shoulders erect. Now slowly move your neck to the left shoulder, keep your neck in this stretch position for 30 to 60 seconds, then move your neck to the right shoulder and keep it in the same position for the same amount of time. The cervical rotation stretch is effective in treating mild neck pain and crick.
Cervical Lateral Flexion Stretch
Before starting this stretch, ensure to sit in a proper posture. Now tilt your head so that your ear reaches your shoulder. While doing the stretch, you don’t need to move your shoulders upward to touch the ear; you only have to tilt your head to one side to approach the shoulders. Now return to the starting position and repeat the same stretch on the other side. Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
Apply Ice Pack
Ice is an amazing remedy to treat inflammation and soreness, and if you are feeling kinky or pain in the neck, you may start by applying an ice pack to the painful area. Put some crushed ice into a plastic zipper and zip it tightly. Wrap a towel around the neck and put the iced zipper on the painful area for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat the process, and you will feel the kink getting off significantly.
Apply Heat Wraps
Heat works great in reducing muscle stress and muscle spasms. There are heat wraps available in the market which are used to relieve neck pain and inflammation. Treating the pain and neck stiffness with heat might work for you if the pain and neck stiffness does not go away within 2 to 3 days. Apply these heat wraps like the ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes.
Massaging helps in improving blood circulation and reducing soreness. Neck massage is a famous way to treat inflamed, kinked, or painful neck muscles that work by relieving muscle knots and improving fluid movement throughout the region. Along with getting off the neck kink, massage also helps improve neck flexibility, relieving muscle stress and reducing all types of inflammation.
Most of us do not care about our daily sitting postures, which contribute significantly to the health of the overall body and especially the neck and shoulder muscles. Slouching may be the main reason for muscle spasms and neck stiffness. One needs to pay attention to posture to reduce the crick on the neck and prevent it from occurring again. Your shoulders, back, and neck should be relaxed and straight the entire day. There are various posture-correcting devices available in the market that you may invest in if you struggle to improve your posture.
Taking OTC Medication
If an ice or heat pack is not working to relieve neck kink or pain, healthcare practitioners recommend several over-the-counter medications to treat it. The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help in combatting muscle pains and neck cricks.
When to Consult a Doctor
A neck kink is usually not a serious medical concern; even in some individuals, there is only a discomforting sensation with a neck kink and not any triggering pain. However, if the kink in your neck is followed by severe pain that limits your daily activities, it’s time to consult your healthcare practitioner. If the pain persists and keeps coming back repeatedly, it might be indicative of severe health conditions such as tumor production or some serious infection. In some cases, it might be the case of spinal stenosis or herniated disc that a doctor may diagnose through a CT scan, X-rays, or MRI. Even if there is no major reason for your neck stiffness, a provider can advise you on the finest at-home remedies.
Prevent a Kink in the Neck
While a kink in the neck may develop in any individual, you may practice a few preventive measures to strengthen your neck muscles and prevent the kink from happening again.
- Always use the mobile, computer, and laptop screens at eye level, and do not look down at the screen for long hours.
- If you travel more frequently, you must be mindful about picking travel bags. Carrying too heavy bags on the shoulders can strain the neck muscles, so always use travel bags with rolling wheels.
- If you are driving for long hours, take breaks during your driving journey. Get out of your car, walk, and do stretches after every hour.
- Always choose a comfortable pillow that provides the right support to your head while sleeping.
- Stay active and regularly practice neck stretches. Engage in yoga meditation. Breathe deeply in the fresh morning air.
Most of the time, home remedies and preventative measures can cure a stiff neck, which is a common issue these days. It typically results from neck injuries, uncomfortable sleeping positions, bad posture, or stress. Usually, neck pain is not a sign of a more serious problem. But do not disregard it if it appears abruptly and is accompanied by other symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I get a kink out of my neck?
You may apply heat or ice on the sore area to remove the neck kink. Massaging the neck gently, using a soft neck collar, and taking the OTC medications help improve neck stiffness.
How long does a neck kink last?
There are no specific days after which a neck kink disappears. It goes away on its own after a few days, but if it lasts for more than weeks, you need to consult a physiotherapist and ask for stretching exercises, massages, and therapies to lessen the pain.
Should you massage a kinked neck?
A gentle massage on a kinked neck helps greatly in reducing muscle stiffness and combatting the tension around the neck muscles. It helps improve blood circulation and relieves the uncomfortable crick in the neck.
What is a neck kink called?
A neck kink is called ‘Torticollis,’ which means ‘twisted neck.’
Is it Crick or kink?
The neck kink is also referred to as a crick in the neck that is the lack of mobility or discomforting and sometimes painful sensation in the neck and the muscles around it.
Why does my neck kink after waking up?
If you feel pain or kink in the neck after waking up, it may be due to the improper positioning of the pillow while you are sleeping or the lack of neck movements during the long sleeping hours.
What is the medical term used for the neck?
The medical term used for the neck is ‘cervical spine.’
What are the components of the neck?
The neck comprises an extended network of structures such as vertebrae, ligaments, muscles, discs, and nerves. Any factor that creates a disturbance in any of the neck’s components may result in neck stiffness.
How does a doctor diagnose neck kink or muscle stiffness?
CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs are generally used to diagnose kinks in the neck.
John Davis is a passionate content writer with a knack for crafting engaging narratives across various subjects. With a keen eye for detail and a love for storytelling, John brings ideas to life through the power of words. His dedication to delivering high-quality and informative content has made him a trusted voice in the digital realm. When he’s not at his desk, you’ll find John exploring new hobbies and seeking inspiration in the world around him.