If you experience neck pain, headaches or stiffness from sitting in front of your computer for too long, it can be hard to resist the urge to crack your neck. Who doesn’t love that feeling of immediate relief? We do the same thing to our fingers when our hands get stiff, and our backs after we’ve been sitting for hours.
- But cracking your neck can be harmful if done too often or incorrectly.
- If you crack your neck incorrectly, you risk pinching the nerves in your neck.
- This can make your neck extremely painful and difficult to move.
- You can also strain the muscles around the head and neck if you stretch them too much while cracking your neck.
One of the more serious risks of neck popping is placing too much pressure on the blood vessels in the neck. This can lead to dizziness and even unconsciousness. Is there a safe way to crack my neck? There are benefits to correctly cracking your neck. Relieving the pain and stiffness in your neck after staying still for too long is one benefit.
- Stretch your neck first by looking down and up slowly several times.
- Stand up before cracking your neck. Stand with your feet apart and slowly roll your spine back until you hear a pop. This decompresses the spine, helping to reduce stiffness.
- Place the back of your hand against the small of your back and slide it over until your forearm is against your back.
- Take your other hand and place it on top of your head. Gently pull your head toward your shoulder until you feel a crack. If your neck does not crack, don’t try to force it.
Why does my neck feel like it needs to crack? Improper posture, previous injury, and repetitive motion can lead to a painful and stiff neck. If your neck constantly feels stiff or painful, it may be time to turn to a physical therapist for help. A licensed physical therapist can help you determine the source of your neck pain and stiffness and employ trusted methods to treat it.
- Manual therapy,
- Electrical stimulation,
Where can I go for physical therapy near me? If you are suffering from chronic pain and stiffness in your neck and always feel like you need to crack it, it’s time to turn to the experts. Our qualified team at Whatcom Physical Therapy is ready to help get to the bottom of your neck problems.
- 0.1 Why does my neck hurt when I hear a pop in it?
- 0.2 Why is my neck so tight?
- 0.3 Is it OK to adjust your own neck?
- 1 Is it OK to get your neck adjusted?
- 2 What does a misaligned neck feel like?
- 3 Why is my neck so painful?
- 4 How long does stiff neck last?
- 5 Should you hear your neck crack?
- 6 Why do I feel like my neck needs to pop?
- 7 Why can’t I relax my neck and shoulders?
- 8 Why can’t I move my neck without it hurting?
How can I align my neck without a chiropractor?
How You Lose Correct Neck Bone Alignment and How To Restore It Another blog post from Ann Arbor chiropractor Mike Tannenbaum, D.C.: How You Lose the Correct Neck Bone Alignment, and How to Restore It Your neck bones (vertebrae), if positioned properly should form a specific degree of forward curve.
The curve should not be too much or too little just the right amount. The correct neck curvature is very important to the health of the neck bones, the health of the neck’s intervertebral disks (protective cartilage between the bones), as well as keeping your neck mobile and pain free. Your head weighs about as much as a bowling ball and if you neck curvature is incorrect the weight of your head will make the curvature worse over time.
What causes a change in the neck curvature? Simply, both major and minor traumas to the body causes changes in the neck curvature. Physical stresses like car accidents, slips, falls, and sports injuries can change the alignment of the neck bones. Furthermore, benign traumas, such as sitting with poor posture and poor sleeping habits—like sleeping on your stomach or too many pillows under your neck, can negatively affect the neck bones’ alignment.
Have a chiropractor check you for neck bone misalignment. Keep your head directly above your shoulders. Limit your electronic usage, such as taking time away from your phone, laptop, or notebook. Perform Bruegger’s Maneuver (also known as Bruegger’s Exercise). That is, s it at the edge of a chair with your legs hip-width apart. Turn your feet out at a 45-degree angle. Your arms should hang loosely at your side with your palms facing forward. Sit up straight while making sure to avoid putting a large curve in your low back. Bring your head back so your ears are directly over your shoulders. Take 5-10 deep breaths in and out. Repeat as needed. This can be repeated throughout the day every hour or so. Another version of this exercise uses a resistance band. Perform neck stretches. Move the neck in all ranges of motion (one direction or one motion at a time) forward, backward, side-to-side, and rotate to each side) making sure to feel the stretch and holding each position for 15 seconds. Use a cervical roll. The neck is supposed to have a natural C-shaped curve, but the curve can become flattened or even reversed. A simple way to help get the curve back is the use of a cervical roll. You can purchase one or make your own by taking a hand towel and rolling it up length-wise. Once the towel is rolled you can put a rubber band or duct tape around it to keep it rolled tight. Use the cervical roll by lying on your back on a flat surface, then placing the roll at the base of your neck, so your neck naturally curves around it. The roll doesn’t go under your head — your head should not be propped up. If your head is propped up, you need to move the roll lower down your spine. The roll should be used daily for 20-30 minutes. Get adjusted. Chiropractic adjustments will help restore normal joint function and can reduce/eliminate muscular tension while helping restore proper neck bone alignment.
If you have any questions about this blog post, chiropractic, back pain, neck pain, or headaches, I can be reached at my Ann Arbor chiropractic office at, : How You Lose Correct Neck Bone Alignment and How To Restore It
How to relieve neck pain?
Pain Relief – You can use one or more of these methods to help reduce neck pain:
Use over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol).Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat. Apply heat using warm showers, hot compresses, or a heating pad.To prevent injuring your skin, do not fall asleep with a heating pad or ice bag in place.Have a partner gently massage the sore or painful areas.Try sleeping on a firm mattress with a pillow that supports your neck. You may want to get a special neck pillow. You can find them at some pharmacies or retail stores.
Ask your health care provider about using a soft neck collar to relieve discomfort.
Only use the collar for 2 to 4 days at most.Using a collar for longer can make your neck muscles weaker. Take it off from time to time to allow the muscles to get stronger.
Acupuncture also may help relieve neck pain.
Why does my neck hurt when I hear a pop in it?
Three neck injuries that can lead to a loud pop in your neck followed by pain: –
Tendon or ligament injuries — Tendons and ligaments are two types of connective tissue found in your neck. Tendons attach muscles to bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones. A sudden tear, or can all lead to popping noises and trigger significant neck pain.
Muscle injuries — Your neck is supported and moved by a, Putting too much strain on a neck muscle can cause a strain, and in extreme cases, the muscle may even tear, with a loud popping sound followed by pain. Often, such injuries occur during automobile accidents or while playing sports.
Neck joint injuries — The neck is a structure that contains many joints; these joints are known as, These structures allow your neck to bend and flex the way it does. The facet joints also contain cartilage that can tear. Such cartilage injuries can easily lead to the popping sound and pain you experienced.
Why is my neck so tight?
Standing pushups – People can follow these steps to do a standing pushup:
Stand about an arm’s length away from a wall with the feet spread apart.Place the hands on the wall, making sure that they align with the shoulders.Keeping the back straight, slowly bend the elbows, bringing the upper body toward the wall.Straighten the elbows and return to the starting position.Repeat this exercise 5–10 times.
In addition to the stretches and exercises above, people can relieve neck tension with rest, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and lifestyle changes. The following remedies may help people manage neck tension:
applying a cold compress to reduce pain and inflammationapplying a warm compress to help relax tense neck musclestaking OTC pain relievers to reduce mild-to-moderate muscle paintaking an Epsom salt bathpracticing stress management and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga exercising regularlygetting a massagechanging sleeping positions and using pillows that support the neck without overextending it
People may wish to see a doctor if they experience persistent neck tension that does not improve with at-home exercises and remedies. People may require immediate medical attention if they develop neck pain after an injury or a car accident or if they experience the following symptoms:
intense or sharp neck painrecurring headaches fever nauseavomiting
People who grind or clench their teeth at night can speak with a dentist about getting a bite guard to wear at night. Neck pain is a common complaint that affects people all around the world. Muscle tension is a common cause of neck pain and can develop as a result of poor posture, repetitive movements, and injuries, among other factors.
Is it OK to adjust your own neck?
Leave It To The Professionals – A friend might offer to give you a hand with your stiff neck, but they could easily end up applying too much pressure and causing more damage than good. Only get your back or neck adjusted from a licensed chiropractor or physical therapist.
Is it OK to get your neck adjusted?
Risks – Chiropractic adjustment is safe when it’s performed by someone trained and licensed to deliver chiropractic care. Serious complications associated with chiropractic adjustment are overall rare, but may include:
A herniated disk or a worsening of an existing disk herniation Compression of nerves in the lower spinal column A certain type of stroke after neck manipulation
Don’t seek chiropractic adjustment if you have:
Severe osteoporosis Numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in an arm or leg Cancer in your spine An increased risk of stroke A known bone abnormality in the upper neck
What does a misaligned neck feel like?
What Are the Effects of Upper Cervical Misalignments? – You may or may not have immediate effects of an upper cervical misalignment. While some people notice pain or discomfort right after sustaining an injury or repetitive trauma, others go decades without realizing their neck is out of alignment.
- Because the upper cervical spine is in close proximity to the brain stem, a wide range of both minor and serious issues can result from misalignments in the neck.
- Numbness, tingling, pain, stiffness, and weakness in and around the neck are the most commonly reported symptoms.
- If left misaligned, more issues can come about, such as headaches, migraines, sinus issues, vertigo, seizures, TMJ, fatigue, eye problems, hearing issues, immune system problems, chronic illnesses, and more.
Neurological problems, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, trigeminal neuralgia, and more can result from long-term compression of the spinal cord.
What are the red flags for neck pain?
|Symptom or finding||Clinical significance|
|Shock-like paresthesia (Lhermitte’s phenomenon) with neck flexion||Suggestive of cervical cord compression or multiple sclerosis|
|Fever or chills||Suggestive of infection|
|History of injection drug use||Raises concern for cervical spine or disc infection|
Why is my neck so painful?
Neck pain is pain that starts in the neck and can be associated with radiating pain down one or both of the arms. Neck pain can come from a number of disorders or diseases that involve any of the tissues in the neck, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments or muscles.
The neck region of the spinal column, the cervical spine, consists of seven bones (C1-C7 vertebrae ), which are separated from one another by intervertebral discs. These discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during activity. Each vertebral bone has an opening forming a continuous hollow longitudinal space, which runs the whole length of the back.
This space, called the spinal canal, is the area through which the spinal cord and nerve bundles pass. The spinal cord is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and surrounded by a protective layer called the dura, a leathery sac. At each vertebral level, a pair of spinal nerves exit through small openings called foramina (one to the left and one to the right).
- These nerves supply the muscles, skin and tissues of the body and thus provide sensation and movement to all parts of the body.
- The delicate spinal cord and nerves are protected by suspension in the spinal fluid in the dural sac, then further by the bony vertebrae.
- The bony vertebrae are further supported by strong ligaments and muscles that bind them and allow for safe movement.
Neck pain may be caused by arthritis, disc degeneration, narrowing of the spinal canal, muscle inflammation, strain or trauma. In rare cases, it may be a sign of cancer or meningitis. For serious neck problems, a primary care physician and often a specialist, such as a neurosurgeon, should be consulted to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
Age, injury, poor posture or diseases such as arthritis can lead to degeneration of the bones or joints of the cervical spine, causing disc herniation or bone spurs to form. Sudden severe injury to the neck may also contribute to disc herniation, whiplash, blood vessel destruction, vertebral injury and in extreme cases may result in permanent paralysis.
Herniated discs or bone spurs may cause a narrowing of the spinal canal, or the small openings through which spinal nerve roots exit, putting pressure on spinal cord or the nerves. Pressure on the spinal cord in the cervical region can be a serious problem, because virtually all of the nerves to the rest of the body have to pass through the neck to reach their final destination (arms, chest, abdomen, legs).
- This can potentially compromise the function of many important organs.
- Pressure on a nerve can result in numbness, pain or weakness to the area in the arm the nerve supplies.
- Cervical stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord and is most frequently caused by degeneration associated with aging.
(See also: AANS Cervical Spine Patient Page ). The discs in the spine that separate and cushion vertebrae may dry out. As a result, the space between the vertebrae shrinks and the discs lose their ability to act as shock absorbers. At the same time, the bones and ligaments that make up the spine become less pliable and thicken.
- These changes result in a narrowing of the spinal canal.
- In addition, the degenerative changes associated with cervical stenosis can affect the vertebrae by contributing to the growth of bone spurs that compress the nerve roots.
- Mild stenosis can be treated conservatively for extended periods of time as long as the symptoms are restricted to neck pain.
Severe stenosis may impinge the spinal cord causing injury and requires referral to a neurosurgeon. Neck injury symptoms include neck stiffness, shoulder or arm pain, headache, facial pain and dizziness. Pain from a motor vehicle injury may be caused by tears in muscles or injuries to the joints between vertebrae.
Pain in the arm Numbness or weakness in the arm or forearm Tingling in the fingers or hand Difficulty with balance and walking Weakness in the arms or legs
Those with neck pain may be referred to a neurosurgeon because of pain in the neck, shoulder or tingling and numbness in the arms or weakness. Neurosurgeons should be consulted for neck pain if:
It occurs after an injury or blow to the head Fever or headache accompanies the neck pain Stiff neck prevents the patient from touching chin to chest Pain shoots down one arm There is tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms or hands Neck symptoms associated with leg weakness or loss of coordination in arms or legs The pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medication Pain does not improve after a week
Diagnosis is made by a neurosurgeon based on patient history, symptoms, a physical examination and results of diagnostic studies, if necessary. Some patients may be treated conservatively and then undergo imaging studies if medication and physical therapy are ineffective. These tests may include:
Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan) Discography Electromyography (EMG) Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Myelogram Selective Nerve Root Block X-rays
Most causes of neck pain are not life threatening and resolve with time and conservative medical treatment. Determining a treatment strategy depends mainly on identifying the location and cause of the pain. Although neck pain can be quite debilitating and painful, nonsurgical management can alleviate many symptoms.
The doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the pain or inflammation and muscle relaxants to allow time for healing to occur. Reducing physical activities or wearing a cervical collar may help provide support for the spine, reduce mobility and decrease pain and irritation. Trigger point injection, including corticosteroids, can temporarily relieve pain.
Occasionally, epidural steroids may be recommended. Conservative treatment options may continue for six to eight weeks. If the patient is experiencing any weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, seek medical attention immediately. If the patient has had any trauma and is now experiencing neck pain with weakness or numbness, urgent consultation with a neurosurgeon is recommended.
Conservative therapy is not helping The patient experiences a decrease in function due to persistent pain The patient experiences progressive neurological symptoms involving the arms and legs The patient experiences difficulty with balance or walking The patient is in otherwise good health
There are several different surgical procedures which can be utilized, the choice is influenced by the specifics of each case. Also, there are options for approaches from the front of the neck or the back of the neck. In many cases, spinal fusion is performed, though in some cases, simple decompression or artificial disc replacement may be employed.
Spinal fusion is an operation that creates a solid union between two or more vertebrae. Various devices (like screws or plates) may be used to enhance fusion and support unstable areas of the cervical spine. This procedure may assist in strengthening and stabilizing the spine and may thereby help to alleviate severe and chronic neck pain.
Factors that help determine the type of surgical treatment include the specifics of the disc disease and the presence or absence of pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. Other factors include age, how long the patient has had the disorder, other medical conditions and if there has been previous cervical spine surgery.
If the patient smokes, he or she should try to quit. Smoking damages the structures and architecture of the spine and slows down the healing process. If overweight, the patient should try to lose weight. Both smoking and obesity have been shown to have a negative impact on spinal fusion surgery outcome.
The benefits of surgery should always be weighed carefully against its risks. Although a large percentage of neck pain patients report significant pain relief after surgery, there is no guarantee that surgery will help every individual. If neck pain resolves with non-surgical, conservative treatment, follow-up will likely be on an as-needed basis or if symptoms return.
If a patient undergoes surgery, follow-up is specific to each type of procedure. AANS Patient Pages are authored by neurosurgical professionals, with the goal of providing useful information to the public. Alex P. Michael, MD Important The AANS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets.
This information provided is an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult his or her neurosurgeon, or locate one in your area through the AANS’ Find a Board-certified Neurosurgeon online tool.
How long does stiff neck last?
When you have a stiff neck, the soreness and restricted range of motion can make routine activities difficult. Symptoms typically last from just a day or two to a couple of weeks, and may be accompanied by a headache, shoulder pain, and/or pain that radiates down your arm.
Is popping neck OK?
When done carefully, cracking your neck isn’t bad for you. It has some benefits, including easing joint pressure, which may relieve pain or stiffness. But when done too often or forcefully, it can lead to more neck pain and injuries. Experts recommend gentle stretches when popping your neck.
Should you hear your neck crack?
If you’ve ever turned your head and heard a snap, crackle, and pop sound coming from your neck, you’ve experienced neck crepitus, Many people find these sounds unsettling and have some concerns. Whether you’re worried about neck arthritis or anything else, know this: Crepitus in and of itself is nothing to worry about.
Why do I feel like my neck needs to pop?
Why Cracking Your Own Neck is Bad! | Southeast Orthopedic Specialists We’ve all seen people “crack” their necks to try to relieve pain or stiffness. When you crack your neck, the action releases gas or fluid from the joints surrounding the neck. The cracking, or cavitation, usually makes you feel better temporarily. However, it doesn’t alleviate the underlying problem.
Those of us who specialize in see neck stiffness all the time in athletes and non-athletes alike. If you constantly feel the need to crack your neck, it’s likely because you have hypermobility, or a larger than normal range of motion, in your neck joints. Self-cracking only affects the least resistant joints.
However, the joints that are really stuck remain so.
Which side should you sleep on if your neck hurts?
How to sleep with a stiff neck and shoulder or back. To avoid aggravating a sore shoulder, it’s a good idea to sleep either on your opposite side or your back.
Why can’t I relax my neck and shoulders?
Tension and tightness in your neck and shoulders is a common symptom of stress and anxiety. It’s part of your body’s way of gearing up to survive a perceived physical threat. In other words, it’s part of the ‘fight or flight’ stress response.
Why can’t I move my neck to one side?
Wry neck – not a cause for a wry smile – The medical term for this is ‘torticollis ‘, when the neck gets stuck with your head twisted to one side. It may be due to strain of the muscles or ligaments of the neck, making the muscles go into spasm. Sleeping in a draught or an uncomfortable position may bring it on.
Why can’t I move my neck without it hurting?
Stiffness and pain in the neck usually result from overuse, injury, or sleeping in an unusual position. Stretching, using warm or cold packs, and over-the-counter medication can often relieve it. But, sometimes there is a more serious cause, such as meningitis.
- The neck contains muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
- These work together to support the head and allow it to move in many directions.
- A stiff neck often occurs when one of the muscles becomes strained or tense.
- Stiffness can also develop if one or more of the vertebrae is injured.
- A stiff neck may become painful when a person tries to move their neck or head.
Usually, a stiff neck results from a minor injury or incident. People can often relieve the stiffness at home. In rare cases, however, it can be a sign of a serious illness that requires medical treatment. Stiffness usually occurs when the neck muscles are overused, stretched too far, or strained.
Why is one side of my neck stiff?
What Neck Pain on the Left Side Means: Jonathan Chin, MD: Pain Management The human body is a complicated structure made of trillions of cells. These cells combine to form tissues that gather and make organs. Different organs collectively include organ systems, and these systems run our bodies. Basic stuff, yet it all is complex, connected, and sometimes mysterious.
- The neck, part of the skeletal system, is crucial to our overall bodily structure.
- It provides support and structure to our heads, connects the cervical spinal cord to our brains, and gives home to essential blood vessels to circulate throughout our bodies.
- The neck muscles are exceptionally delicate, and even a minor injury or sprain can lead to dangerous results.
Neck pain ranked among the in the world. Temporary neck pain, particularly of the left side, can be caused by fatigue, an improper sleeping position, and irritating daily activities. To be more literal, the neck pain we experience is caused by inflammation, muscle strain, or tension.
How do I know if my neck is out of alignment?
Limited Neck Mobility – If your cervical spine is misaligned, your range of motion in the neck could be limited. Move your neck from left to right to see if you have any limits to the mobility of the cervical spine. If you have pain when you turn your neck in one direction, or if you can’t turn the head as far to one side as you can to the other, your cervical spine probably isn’t aligned.
How can I restore my neck curve naturally?
Physical Therapy – Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option to restore the natural curve in the neck. Treatments options include neutral spinal alignment, range of motion, strengthening exercises, trigger point injections, and muscle manipulation and activation.