What to do if you wake up with pain from a bad crick in your neck

Ever wake up up with a crick in your neck? It could be from sleeping wrong or even from prior physical strain. Having that pain in your neck is not something you should have to deal with throughout the day. So to help you alleviate your pain, here is some expert advice.


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  • try a gentle massage
  • add some moist heat
  • try ice
  • use an over-the-counter pain reliever

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  • panic
  • rush out and see a doctor
  • try crazy things like putting your head in a vise
  • forget to gently stretch

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do try a gentle massage

Sometimes just kneading the muscle gently will help. A crick in the neck is basically a muscle spasm. Which is your body telling you that you slept in the wrong position.

Do add some moist heat

Sometimes the moist heat applied for about 15-20 minutes will help loosen up the muscle spasm. Microwave or otherwise heat up a moist cloth and apply it to your neck.

Do try ice

If the moist heat doesn’t seem to work, ice sometimes will. Just be sure to place a towel between the ice and the skin to prevent frostbite.

Do use an over-the-counter pain reliever

Short courses of over-the-counter pain relievers can be useful. Be very careful if you have a pre-existing condition that might make this dangerous. Examples include a history of coronary artery disease, a bleeding ulcer, or liver or kidney disease. Ask your physician if you have any question about this.

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not panic

Neck pain after sleeping is a common problem that will work itself out over time. Even if the tips above don’t work immediately, there’s hope because tincture of time will get rid of it.

Do not rush out and see a doctor

Cricks in the neck usually get better over time. Be patient. Unless the pain last for more than 3 days or is extremely painful, give it time to heal before you contact a doctor. On rare occasions, a crick in the neck can be a sign of a more serious problem such as a pinched nerve.

Do not try crazy things like putting your head in a vise

You’d be surprised what some people do for a crick in the neck. Don't be foolish about it. Try heat, ice, a gentle massage, and don’t step out of your bounds to try something crazy.

Do not forget to gently stretch

Gently stretch your neck to help alleviate the pain. Don’t overdo it though. If you try to stretch it too much, you could strain it even more than before. Stretch your neck to the front and to the side, but avoid stretching your neck too far backwards as it could heighten your pain. Again, don’t stretch too hard and don’t push your neck farther than it will go when stretching gently. Eventually by doing this, your pain will go down.


“Cricks in the neck” are common problems that usually get better over a short period of time. Above are a few simple things you can do to recover more quickly.

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