Have a crick in your neck? Try this self-mobilization to free up your neck motion!
If you have ever woken up with a crick in the neck or suddenly turned your head and felt a painful pinch, it is likely due to connective tissue in the cervical spine getting pinched between a joint. The joints in the spine are called facets and have a fibrous capsule surrounding the two joint surfaces, kind of like a fluid filled bag that keeps the joints in place and from wobbling too far away from each other. Occasionally, certain movements can cause the joint capsule fold inwards and get pinched between the two joint surfaces as they compress. This is called facet entrapment because the facet joints trap their surrounding capsule within the joint space. A quick fix one can try at home to relieve a crick in the neck (facet entrapment) is the Mutifidus isometric exercise. The multifidus is a muscle group in the cervical spine where the fibers of these muscles blend into to the capsule. When these fibers contract, they therefore pull the capsule out from the joint space and thus relieve the entrapment. You can try this exercise yourself.
Place your left hand to the front and side of your forehead. Against the pressure of your hand, try to rotate your head to the left while tilted the left ear towards the left shoulder. Push your hand back into the side of your forehead with enough pressure to make sure that neither the hand or the head actually move.
Hold the pressure at about 50% of full effort for 5 seconds, and then relax. This is an isometric exercise so there is no actual movement occurring with the neck muscle contraction.
Repeat again with the hand positioned directly over the ear.
Repeat a third time with the hand positioned over the rear quarter of the head.
Repeat this exercise on the other side.
Follow up with ice to clear up any inflammation that will likely have occurred with acute facet entrapment. Ice three times a day for 15-20 minutes and do some gentle range of motion (nodding the head ‘yes’, shaking head ‘no’ and sidebending). 10 each direction.
If you have neck pain that isn't resolving, give us a call. We can get you looked at and pain free in no time!
Alex Glades PT, DPT