Can’t move my neck when I woke this morning?
Well maybe it doesn’t look as bad as this, but you get the idea.
If you wake up and say to yourself ” I can’t move my neck“, maybe it is this bad.
I’m sure if you have ever awoken with excruciating neck pain, you’ve felt that pain when you can’t move your neck.
You feel like your neck was stuck, or worse yet, it actually was stuck.
When it feels this way and you can’t move your neck, obviously something is going on that should’nt be going on, and if you’ve ever felt this way, you feel like swearing too.
I apologize if I offended you with the title of this blog post, but I wanted to get the entire point across, you know capture all the emotions that accompany neck pain.
So what’s the deal? Why can’t you move your neck.
How can you go to bed one night seemingly fine, and wake up the next morning all locked up, not being able to move? How can this be? Did I sleep in the wrong position?
Usually a lot of question arise when I consult with a patient who comes in to see me and the first words out of their mouth is “I can’t move my neck“.
What’s going on when you say to yourself, “I can’t move my neck”?
The main consistent historical finding, or what the patient relates to me is that “it just came out of nowhere”When this type of unexpected neck pain occurs, when the individual is unable to move their neck when they wake up in the morning, the most common diagnosis is known as:
What is Torticollis? Torticollis means you can’t “move my neck”
Torticollis comes from the Latin words of “torti” which means “twisted” and “collis” which means “neck”. So the words combined literally mean “twisted neck”. Which pretty much sums up the way it looks, and certainly the way it feels.
Another term for this condition is something known as “wry neck”. Basically it is similar to a really bad muscle spasm, almost similar to the sensation of a “Charlie-horse”, but in the case of Torticollis, it occurs in the neck. When this happens, your going to say to yourself “I can’t move my neck“?
Another historical finding, or what the patient relates to me, is the fact that they awoke with it in the morning after sleeping with the air conditioner or cold air blowing in the room in which they were sleeping.
Ever happen to you? Ever say to yourself I can’t move my neck?
Often times as well, you may have just finished having a cold, or flu virus. Lastly, trauma such as a motor vehicle accident may cause a Torticollis as well (either a long time ago and thought of as insignificant)
Like I said earlier though, many times torticollis patients don’t really know why or what caused this condition, ie, they really didn’t do anything to get this, or deserve this (or so they think).
The torticollis is characterized by very sharp pain and spasms, and an inability to move the neck at all, or if you do try to move it, extremely sharp pain is accompanied.
This sharp pain can be extremely limiting, from your day to day activities, as well as your ability to be productive and perform your job. I hate when I can’t move my neck.
If you don’t do anything at all, torticollis and the extreme neck pain will ultimately improve over a 2 week period. In my practice, and with chiropractic in general, torticollis will resolve over a couple of days. Torticollis patient’s always tell me “I can’t move my neck”.
If you happen to get better after one or two days (hopefully) without doing anything at all, then you probably didn’t have torticollis.
In fact, I often see patients who have never been to the chiropractor before, because they would rather try to end their pain quickly vs, waiting it out over a period of 2 weeks. In this situation, they are so desperate, desperate to resume their fun activities, to just going back to work, or feeling like their old self, and quite frankly, the pain is so bad, they want to make sure nothing else is going on.
Of course taking prescriptive pain medication is always an option, but many of my patients have the attitude of ”been there done that”, they are tired of the way that that makes them feel.
Unfortunately, sometimes torticollis can last longer then a month, and in rare cases even longer, without treatment. So I would strongly recommend getting treatment ASAP.
The 3 most common finding of Torticollis are:
- spasms of the neck muscles
- Shoulder, side of the neck, upper back, and neck pain.
- Neck being twisted to one side of the other, and feeling stuck in this position.
what are the best solutions for Torticollis pain relief?
Well, ideally not getting in the first place right?
I say that half jokingly, but truthfully as well.
Like anything, prevention is the best medicine, but unfortunately, in the real world, prevention is really hard to sell. Having great posture, great muscle balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength are certainly great prophalactic variables for avoiding torticollis in the first place.
Getting regular chiropractic care is a sure way to avoid ever having acute torticollis as well. But if you happen to be in a full blown episode of acute torticollis, analgesics do help immensely, because alot the pain is caused from the muscles being in spasms.
Gentle massage work, superficially without going to deep will be helpful as well. With the massage recommendation, make sure that you rule out any acute process, recent trauma or activity that may have caused the torticollis.
Meaning, cleaning out the garage, doing the first spring flower planting, cleaning house, or anything that you may have done to cause the musculoskeletal pain (if this is the case in your situation, then consider this a “reality check” and learn the proper stretches and postures that you can do to #1 get rid of the pain and spasms, and #2 prevent them from coming on in the first place.
If their was something that you may have done to cause the pain, that you are pretty confident that that was what did it, then you should avoid doing any massage work for the the first 3-5 days, in the very least. Check out this link for getting rid of neck pain with natural stretches
I say this to my patients all the time cause I love analogies, but think of your condition whenever there is trauma and resulting muscle pain.
Think of your condition like a bruised apple. The last thing you would want to do with a bruised apple is to go and rub it all over. This would cause the other parts of the apple to get soft as well. With our bodies, the tissue is not ready for deeper pressure.
Many times I will have a patient come in after they injured their necks or backs, they tried to have a massage, and the massage made it worse. This was the bruised apple effect, and it was too soon to have muscle work.
So in my opinion wait at least 3 days, and in some situations waiting up to 2 weeks is advised, depending on how much trauma and inflammation there is.
Other treatments for acute torticollis, especially if trauma is ruled out, is plain old fashioned heat. Relaxation and breathing techniques can be very effective as well.
Some doctors suggests a supportive cervical neck collar to their patients that said “I can’t move my neck”. This can be effective very early on, as the spastic and locked up muscle will find relieve and support with the collar. But I would recommend seeking chiropractic help ASAP and then trying to move the neck, no matter how gentle the motion is, shortly thereafter.
Hope this helps,
Of course, many of my patients just want something they can do on their own without seeing a doctor, that can help, especially the ones that tell me “I can’t move my neck”
In this case, learning the proper stretches, postures, and exercises that will combat the repititive stressors that we experience on a daily basis. These are such simple exercises, and can be done throughout the day easily on your own.
If you would like a easy-to-do, free version of an at home, do it yourself morning neck pain eliminator program look on my site in the right hand side bar, as I have free one for you. All you have to do is leave me your contact information (name and email) and my auto-responder will send it to you.
Till next time,
Watching your back, and necks. especially when you are saying to yourself ” I can’t move my neck”
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