Extreme neck pain
June 23, 2004 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Neck pain. Sharp stabbing neck pain, you know the kind you get when you sleep in a odd postion and wake up with a "crick". I woke up this morning with such pain, and now I can't turn my head to the right at all. This has happened before, but never to this degree. I sneezed earlier and thought I was going to cry. What's the remedy? Wait it out? Heating pad? Ibuprofen?
posted by corpse to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Hot moist towels help me when I do this. I'll also go out and buy some ibuprofen if it's really bad as well.

I'd like to know the root cause of the problem so I can fix it . Most likely muscle imbalance or lack of flexibility someplace but I don't know where the SOMEPLACE is. Doctors seem to write it off as "ahh, you've got an owie in your neck" and send you on your way rather than encourage you to be proactive and learn what to do to fix it and possibly prevent future chronic problems.
posted by substrate at 11:36 AM on June 23, 2004

Sounds like muscle spasms (at least that's what I've been told in similar situations). So yes, heating pad and ibuprofen, but mostly wait it out.
posted by mookieproof at 11:45 AM on June 23, 2004

Get someone to give you a massage, ideally someone who is somewhat skilled. An ex of mine had taken a few courses, and he could fix my wry neck in three minutes.
posted by orange swan at 12:14 PM on June 23, 2004

I've had this happen enough times and a quick trip to the Chiropractor has always fixed it for me. Most likely it's a pinched nerve.
posted by dotComrade at 12:44 PM on June 23, 2004

Well, this is probably a more 'out there' suggestion than you're looking for, but many eastern philosophies state that energetically, neck problems (specifically being unable to turn the head) are caused by a conflict between the heart and mind (4th and 6th chakras), often owing to a difficult decision to be made.

I've found this to be very accurate, personally, but of course YMMV. Might be something to take into consideration along with the other 'normal' things you'll try.
posted by widdershins at 12:52 PM on June 23, 2004

Second for the chiropractor; it might be some neck and/or ribcage link/joint that has popped out, causing muscle stress and pain. They can pop it back in again. It'll be about 40 bucks I think. Maybe more in big cities.
posted by carter at 12:55 PM on June 23, 2004

Looong, hot showers, hot water pounding on sore neck feels good and relaxes the muscle. And you'll have time to ponder the heart/head conflict. If it lasts more than a day or so, chiropractor is a good idea.
posted by theora55 at 1:17 PM on June 23, 2004 [1 favorite]

This happened to me out of the blue one morning. My neck locked up so bad it felt like my head would snap off if I even moved. My folks took me to the doctor (They never heard me swear so much, due to the pain. I was dropping f-bombs like mad.) and I was prescribed muscle relaxants. This was a 1 time thing for me, but the relaxants did the trick that day.
posted by Sangre Azul at 1:50 PM on June 23, 2004

If this is a recurring problem, you might have torticollis.
posted by TedW at 2:32 PM on June 23, 2004

Yep, I've had this happen before, too, and it really sucks. I couldn't turn my head in either direction. I took the muscle relaxants prescribed by the doctor for three days, and while they left me in a mental haze barely fit to watch TV, (I couldn't concentrate enough to work 48 hours after I stopped taking them) it did very little to help my neck.

After three days of constant pain, missing work and hating those stupid narcotics, I stopped them tried a little *cough* alternative *cough* *cough* medicine. It worked very well and was cheaper by far than the prescription stuff. It gave me enough pain relief and relaxation to sleep and stretch without leaving me unable to function mentally. Availability varies by location.
posted by bradhill at 2:35 PM on June 23, 2004

my acupuncturist always calls this "getting a cold in your neck", to which i generally roll my eyes and think "you can't get a respiratory virus in your muscle tissue". nevertheless, a few needles later it's greatly improved...
posted by judith at 5:21 PM on June 23, 2004

I have a mechanical block in my neck- a bulging disk. I see a Physical Therapist, and he is king. I do exercises prescribed for my specific condition, and in the worst cases or flare-ups, I have cyclobenzaprene (sp?). See someone if it keeps going.
I sleep shoulders-on-pillow (along with my head!) and I hug another pillow to my chest, making sure it comes up under my chin. It is my own little head immobilizer.
posted by oflinkey at 5:43 PM on June 23, 2004

Be very cautious of chiropractors who mess with the bones. My mom is a nurse and they've seen more than their fair share of parlyzed people from a chiro messing with the the neck.
I recommend a message therapist whose methods are relugated strictly to the muscles. Just be warned that for many older people, once they start going to chiropractors or message theoropists, they have to start going often.
posted by jmd82 at 5:59 PM on June 23, 2004

Instead of a chiropractor, you might want to go to a general practictian (sp?) who is a Doctor of Osteopathy. basically, they're M.D.s who look for holistic solutions, including chiropractic work, which they're well-versed in.
posted by notsnot at 7:31 PM on June 23, 2004

I wouldn't let a chiropractor NEAR my neck! They always hurt it. Their greatest value is with the lower back.

Massage thearapy, definitly. Hot can be good, but cold is usually better for inflamation. Ibuprofen is also good. Asprin can be good, too.

Avoid propping yourself up at a table or desk with your arms. Lots of 'neck pain' comes from this. Also from tilting your head back as you lean forward to look at something on the screen. And from supporting yourself on your elbow in bed.

It is fairly easy to massage this problem into submission. You can even do it yourself to some advantage. Mostly just squeeze the meat between neck and shoulder. Pay attention to your response to find the right places. If you can get someone else to do it, all the better. Start gently. AND while having it done, occasionaly stretch by forcing your shoulders down, reaching straight along your sides with your arms. Try to tilt your head both ways. If it feels stuck, continue massage 'till you can do it.
posted by Goofyy at 11:43 PM on June 23, 2004

Response by poster: After a cocktail, lots of heat and ibuprofen, I feel better today. I can turn my head to the right, still hurts if i try to push it too far, but at least I can function normally today.
posted by corpse at 6:56 AM on June 24, 2004

I wholeheartedly second the Osteopath recommendation. I had a ripening case of scoliosis when I was in juinor high school and I visited a long series of chiropractors, doctors, practitioners. It was a doctor of osteopathy who solved it for me -- and I mean solved; the condition has been gone from my life for fourteen years. Think of an osteopath as a chiropractor with a medical degree. One who actually knows what s/he's doing, if you will.

I get those accursed wake-up neck cricks several times a year. Mine hurt for a couple days. If I'm lucky, I can get an appointment with my [guess what kind of doctor] and receive a speedy repair. But it's never local to the neck. Always there are a series of tensions and twists in my body that make my neck hurt. These are what you want a professional to address -- so if you go massage, try full body instead of neck rub, even when the pain is only in one little spot. And look up osteopath in them yeller pages.
posted by damehex at 9:46 AM on June 24, 2004

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