We’ve all seen it, and maybe you’ve even done it yourself. You’re sitting at your desk at work, or standing in line at a coffee shop, and you feel the telltale signs of neck tension – a little bit of pain or tightness along the line of your neck or shoulders – so you roll your head around a bit, or maybe you even twist your head from side to side a little more aggressively.
What happens next? A good crack. You might feel relief from pain – it’s probably just the tension relieving itself… right?
Not always! Cracking your neck can be the start of a vicious cycle caused by chronic tension that never goes away.
That feeling of tension release happens through the stimulation of mechanoreceptors (nerve receptors) in the joints and muscles. These receptors are stimulated when the neck joints are taken to their end range of motion where added force is applied to distract the joints.
A popping or cracking sensation can be felt due to a release of built up gas in these joint capsules. Over time though, these structures can become stretched or damage on the cellular level. Over time, if they’re stretched and damaged, instability can occur.
Why Does Neck Tension Keep Coming Back?
If you’re not supposed to crack your own neck to relieve tension, what can you do? First, you should see a specific structural chiropractor to make sure there’s not a serious injury. Even if it’s not serious, regular adjustments can relieve tension and pain.
Second, recognize that tension in the neck is a result of tight or weak muscles, which in turn are a result of abnormal structure. Either way: a visit to the chiropractor is necessary.
Here are some other reasons you could be experiencing neck tension:
- Muscle strains – Overuse, such as too many hours at the computer or hunched over your phone, often triggers muscle strains.
- Worn joints – Like the other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to wear down with age. Osteoarthritis could cause the cartilage between your bones to deteriorate, forming bone spurs that can cause pain.
- Nerve compression – Herniated discs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves, causing pain.
- Injuries – Semi-common injuries like whiplash (which could be caused by a car accident or other trauma) strains the soft tissues of the neck.
How Do I Get Relief from Neck Pain?
If you can’t get to the chiropractor in the next few days or week, there are some small steps you can take to find temporary relief from neck pain. Remember: these are just treating the symptoms of your condition, not the cause. A visit to the chiropractor will take care of the root causes, and hopefully get rid of your pain or tension for good.
In the meantime:
- Use good posture
- Take frequent breaks
- Adjust your desk, chair, and computer
- Avoid carrying heavy bags with straps over your shoulder
- Sleep in a good position
- Schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. Andrew!
At the end of the day, remember that even though it might feel good temporarily, the noise and ultimate release that you feel when twisting your neck is from joints and receptors and is not the cause of the problem. You just happened to be moving these joints to their end range of motion releasing built up gas in the joints. That is why the problem keeps coming back.
Dr. Andrew and Pivotal Chiropractic Can Help with Neck Pain!
The self-cracking isn’t correcting the problem, it’s only providing temporary relief. This would be no different than taking an over the counter medication every time the problem arises. Due to this constant cyclical problem it would make sense that a more permanent solution would be the best choice to give long-term relief.
To schedule a complimentary consultation, where a conversation is never a commitment, contact us at 734-221-0362.