Have you ever woken up in the morning only to find that you can’t turn your head to look at your clock?
Or maybe you get a sharp, stabbing pain in your neck when you try to check your blind spot.
If you have ever wondered what is going on inside your neck that is causing all this hassle and what you can do about it then this post is for you!
What even happened in the first place?
Honestly, the neck is a super intricate structure. I mean, it holds your big old head on top of the rest of your spine. And, it takes some careful maneuvering to get that head to stay up there correctly.
The spine needs to be balanced correctly to be able to hold everything up. All the vertebrae need to be properly stacked so the head can move correctly.
In fact, you may have been to a chiropractor who told you that your cervical (neck) curve is “reversed”. Basically what they are saying is that your vertebra are not stacking up correctly.
This causes problems because each of the vertebra have joints in between them. And, when the joints hit each other wrong it causes some major pain. Further, the joints have a capsule, ligaments, and muscle around them that can get stuck inside.
Imagine how it feels when all those things get stuck INSIDE the joint and pinched when it doesn’t move correctly. Neck pain happens!
Now, you may be saying to yourself “I don’t even know how this all started”. The truth is that is probably started over time as the neck slowly started moving incorrectly. These small movements finally added up to something really painful.
Unless you were in a car accident. Then I am going to blame the car accident. That’s probably why your neck is not moving correctly.
Barring a car accident, though, we usually see this neck problem creep up slowly until WHAMMO the whole system is catywampus. Yes, I realize that is a technical term but doesn’t it accurately describe how it feels? When you can’t even turn your head correctly from side to side you start to feel catywampus. It is frustrating, it hurts, and you are probably over it!
If that sounds like you then you sound like our kind of people. We love helping people get their “heads on straight” so this problem goes away. And you get back to doing all the things that you love doing. To get started with us, we offer a Free Discovery Visit so we can hear your story and you can hear more about our methods.
Because, you may have figured out by now, that we do things a little different around here. We offer a combination of hands on treatment and super specific exercises to get to the root of your neck pain. Not only to eliminate the pain but to fix the problem for good – so it doesn’t come back. So you never even have to consider injections or surgery.
One morning my youngest daughter woke up and couldn’t turn her head or get out of bed. She was literally paralyzed in one spot because of the pain she had when she tried to turn over. She was crying because of the pain AND because she was freaking out that her neck wasn’t moving.
When I came into the room to help she told me not to hurt her. I will always remember those big eyes looking up at me saying “Mommy, don’t hurt me”. She was really cute before she became a teenager. Anyway, I promised that I would not hurt her and we set about getting her head to move again.
If you find yourself literally stuck in one position and are looking for tools you can implement right now, here is the method that we used.
#1 - Ice, Ice, Ice and more ICE!
Put an ice pack on the area that hurts the most for 5 minutes. Ice doesn’t take long to work. And, it is the most effective pain reliever you can get in a short period of time.
Now, you may need to put the ice pack on a couple of different areas and that is totally okay. You can “chase the pain” with ice. Just start with the area that hurts the most and move it after 5 minutes.
Once you have the pain calmed down a little bit you are ready to move onto step #2.
#2 – Give yourself a hand
Before you do this make sure that your head is carefully supported. I most often encourage people to do this while they are lying in bed or on the couch. However, if you find yourself stuck in a sitting position make sure to recline so that your head is supported. That way you won’t put an abnormal torque on your neck.
You are going to gently grasp each side of your head with the palm of your hand. Make sure to use your palms as the fingers get too “fingery” and that can get really painful. Using the palm of your hand to gently put your head back on straight.
You want to make sure that your head is stacked directly on top of your spine before you move on to the next step. But since our neck might not be starting in the correct spot then we need to use our hands to help us get there.
#3 – Active motion is best
Once your head is stacked on top of your spine you are gently going to turn your head from side to side. ONLY move as far as you can PAIN FREE.
Did you actually read that? Once more time just to make sure. ONLY MOVE AS FAR AS YOU CAN PAIN FREE.
Remember, it is tightness and pain that got you into this situation in the first place. You absolutely must keep this motion pain free. Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that no pain = no gain. I really hate this mantra with a passion.
You do want to move as far as you can pain free. Keep turning your head slowly, gently, and pain free from side to side. As things loosen up you should find that your neck pain decreases and you are able to get some more movement.
#4 – Rest
Once you finally get things moving correctly, you do need to take a bit of rest. In between active exercises make sure you give yourself a breather. You may want to ice again to help to further decrease the pain.
But don’t rest for too long! Many people make the mistake of thinking they have pain so they should rest for days on end. This ends up hurting them in the long run. The muscles just get tighter and the joints get less motion. They end up worse off in the long run.
When you are resting, make sure that you are only stationary for 30-60 minutes. Then it is time to get moving again. You may want to do the exercise listed above. You may want to get up and walk around for a bit. Just get your blood pumping and get your body moving.
These tips will help you get your neck moving when it is absolutely stuck but we encourage you to see one of our neck specialists to address this problem in the long term. Because the truth is this is a short term fix to a long term problem. And, you don’t want this problem to continue to show up in your life!
Our neck specialist will help get to the root of your problem with a complete assessment of your neck story and your neck problem. From here we can create a customized plan to address what is going on with your neck.
There are not pre-written, off the shelf programs here at Physical Therapy for everyBODY. We offer customized solutions that are tailored to you and your neck.
If you have decided that you are done struggling with this neck problem and ready to find a real, permanent solution to your neck pain then we encourage you to sign up for one of our Free Discovery Visits. This is for people who are ready to find a solution to their problem but still have a couple of questions they would like answered.
If you are not going to spend one more day struggling with neck pain then this free Discovery Visit is perfect for you. We look forward to helping you here at Physical Therapy for everyBODY.