You wake up in the morning with the worst crick in the neck of your life. It is stiff, sore, even painful. You try to turn your head to see if it will loosen up a little, but even your range of motion is restricted. What does it mean? How did it happen? Is there any way to get rid of a neck crick naturally, or do you just have to take pain pills when you wake up feeling this way? We will address the answers to these crucial questions in our article and help you to find genuine relief.
What It Means When You Wake Up with a Crick in the Neck
Most people think it means they just slept in an awkward position. While this can contribute to pain and soreness, it is rare that a neck crick will be the result of one night of sleeping the wrong way. This problem is almost always the result of years of a neck injury lurking beneath the surface and causing changes in the surrounding structures.
How the Damage Happens
Let’s rewind and take a look at the root of the problem. While the story may be slightly different for everyone, you will probably be able to relate in some way. Maybe you were in your late teens driving home one night when suddenly a deer jumps in front of your car. You hit the brakes hard to try and avoid it, but you still connect. The deer runs away seeming fine, and your vehicle is still drivable, so you head home.
You may feel sore for a few days, but after it goes away, you decide there is nothing wrong. Maybe you even get a clean bill of health from the doctor. When you wake up one morning with a neck crick about 10 to 15 years later, it can’t possibly be related, right? Actually, it may be.
Upper cervical misalignments don’t have to be extreme to start causing damage. Let’s take a look at the long-term progression of a slight upper cervical subluxation.
How Upper Cervical Subluxations Impact the Neck
Whether it was a car accident that caused the initial misalignment or some other type of head or neck injury, this same chain reaction gets set in motion. The first step is a misalignment in the C1 and C2. These are the top two bones in the neck. They are responsible for more than half of the range of motion of your head, and they are two bones that balance the weight of the skull.
With the balance slightly off, the body goes into action. The surrounding soft tissue gradually begins to shift to properly align your head and keep your eyes level to the horizon line. This is crucial for your balance, so your body does whatever it has to in order to maintain the precise balance. Unfortunately, this affects the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck. Even one shoulder may droop below the other as the muscles on one side pull tighter to realign the head.
The Repercussions of an Upper Cervical Misalignment
Now problems begin to set in. With the neck locked in this stressed position, muscles tighten, discs that keep the vertebrae from rubbing begin to wear unevenly, and normal wear and tear on the neck increases in magnitude.
It’s a similar concept to how your tires wear unevenly on your car when the alignment is off. You won’t notice the changes on day one, but suddenly your 50,000-mile tires seem to be worn out at 20-30,000 miles. The problem? You hit a pothole a year or two ago and it threw off the alignment. If only you had known and corrected the underlying issue, you wouldn’t be having the tire problems now.
It is the same with a crick in the neck. The problem began with an accident, perhaps years ago. Now you see the consequences. If only someone had checked for an upper cervical misalignment when your injury first occurred! But don’t panic – while the tires in our example will need to be replaced, you can get help with your neck crick by correcting the underlying problem.
Correcting a Neck Crick with Upper Cervical Chiropractic
If you barely have any range of motion, you probably don’t want someone twisting or jerking your neck around to get it back into place. Fortunately, that’s not what upper cervical chiropractors do. This specific form of chiropractic care relies on diagnostic imaging and precise calculations that pinpoint misalignments down to hundredths of a degree. Then, gentle adjustments are used to move the bones by fractions of a millimeter at a time.
The results are adjustments that are both safe and effective. Low force corrections can remain in place a long time, so once the surrounding soft tissue stabilizes, you shouldn’t need to be adjusted very often. As-needed adjustments keep upper cervical chiropractic care affordable. Also, correcting the underlying issue helps to provide long-term relief, unlike over the counter pain medications that can only help you today.
If you suffer from chronic neck pain, especially if you often wake up with a neck crick, we encourage you to give upper cervical specific chiropractic a try. You may find that this was the source of lasting and natural relief that you have been looking for.