Patient Education


Patients who come into our Austin-area physical therapy clinic with a stiff neck sometimes ask if we can fix their “crick in the neck.” The short answer to that question is, “Yes, of course.” But here’s the what and how…

If you are dealing with neck stiffness or pain and would like to know how we can help, call or text Carter Physiotherapy at (512) 693-8849.

How A “Crick In The Neck” Causes Neck Pain

What people call a “crick in the neck” can come from a few different things. But in my experience, the majority of these painful scenarios occurs when the tissue surrounding a neck joint (called the joint capsule) gets pinched inside the joint. This can happen during sudden head movements, while lifting objects, and also when you sleep with your neck in an awkward position. The joint capsules have a lot of nerve endings and are very sensitive. When this occurs, the reaction of the muscles in the neck is to tighten up and protect the area, which is why a “crick in the neck” almost always has muscle spasms associated with it. These spasms add to the neck pain and stiffness.

For some, the condition will go away within a few days. But for many others, it will leave some level of tightness and pain for months. This can ultimately turn into a chronically stiff and often painful neck.

How We Treat “Crick In The Neck”

So what can be done for this condition? There are specific manual physical therapy techniques that can help resolve the joint capsule irritation and surrounding muscle spasms quite quickly. Joint tightness can also be identified in the evaluation process and effectively treated with hands-on mobilization. A home program of appropriate stretches and range-of-motion exercises are also very helpful. Here is a video showing the results that good Manual Therapy can provide for someone with this type of neck pain.

Treating A Stiff Neck

The take-home point is that this issue can usually be treated quite quickly, and it does not have to be a debilitating condition that lasts for weeks or months. If you are in the Austin area and are having neck pain like that described in this post, please feel free to call or text us (512-693-8849). We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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