Ever woken up with a stiff, painful neck? One of the most common complaints from patients that come into Waverley Chiropractic Centre is pain when waking up in the morning. Sometimes the pain can be described as a “crick” or “kink” in the neck. The result is not only pain but an overall decrease in the range of motion of the neck. So, how does this happen?
The main cause of neck pain upon waking is poor sleeping position.
People who sleep on their stomachs typically have the most issues with their necks because of poor positioning. When sleeping on the stomach from 6-8 hours each night the head must be rotated to the left or right when laying it on the pillow so that you can breathe!. During the day we don’t sit or stand with our head turned to one side for 8 hours, so why do it at night?
Another way to develop the “kink” or “crick” is by sleeping on more than one pillow or a pillow that is too large. This will cause the neck to either be pushed forward or to the side too much where it is not aligned with the rest of the spine resulting in misalignment, muscle pulling and pain.
One more factor is that overnight our necks are immobile ie they aren’t moving much. Your spine loves movement so this lack of movement will contribute to any stiffening or locking of the joints.
What does it mean to have a “kink” or “crick”?
This is a term used when the bones, also known as vertebrae, in the neck are locked up and putting pressure on the nerves leading to pain and decreased motion. What chiropractors call a subluxation. Some people like to refer to this as a “pinched nerve”. The locking of the neck may also cause muscle pulling over a period of time that can lead to spasm and inflammation resulting in pain.
How does the “kink” get fixed?
As chiropractors we help to treat the problem in the neck with an adjustment or manipulation. This will allow the bones/joints to be restored to their normal motion in the neck which results in reduced nerve pressure. After the first adjustment, range of motion and pain will start to improve but inflammation is still taking place. The use of ice for periods of 10 minutes at a time will help with decreasing swelling and pain between adjustments.
Once the neck pain has reduced and overall range of motion is restored then it is very important to start a cervical strengthening program.