Many people tend to crack their neck after sitting for a long period of time in the same position and they feel a popping sound. However, cracking your neck is not actually a good thing to do and in this article we will show you why.
Is cracking your back bad?
Even though an occasional, unforced cracking is not bad, constant cracking of your neck will cause pressure to build up around your joints. In fact, it will cause unwanted cartilage buildup or a blood clot. As a result of that, your ligaments will overstretch thus creating an unstable support. This is bad because your ligaments won’t be able to properly support your joints the cartilage between your vertebrae will begin to wear down.
Why Is Cracking Your Neck Bad?
If you constantly crack your neck, you will in fact end up with more pain and stiffness that get the desired relief. Moreover, if you are under the age of 60, you are at much higher risk of getting a stroke because the cracking may actually cause a blood clot which prohibits the blood flow to your brain.
If Neck Cracking Is Bad, What Can I Do to Relieve Neck Pain?
Avoid cracking your neck and start using the following alternative treatments that will help you relieve tension and pain in your neck.
- Ice and Heat
Both these methods can equally help you alleviate tension in your neck.
When it comes to heat, you should actually heat the affected area for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours until the pain subsides.
On the other hand, if you choose ice, you should use a towel to cove the ice pack prior to applying it onto the affected area. After that, just repeat the same procedure as you would with heat.
- Keep Moving
Make sure to gently move the area in which you feel the pain, tension or stiffness because it will help your muscles to stay strong and stretched. Try some light stretching if you woke up with a stiff neck or you have been spending the whole day at your desk. Be careful when you move and avoid quick and sharp movements. The best solution to relax your muscles is by a massage.
- Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Medications
Acetaminophen is a pail reliever which can help you solve your problem, but if there is an inflammation as well, then you should use a nonsterodial anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen.
- Form Healthy Habits
In order to prevent the stiff neck from occurring in the first place, you need to form healthy habits such as finding a good stress relief. Yoga is the best solution for that and you can add it to your daily routine. Not smoking and exercising on a daily basis are other good habits as well which will help ease the tension and pain from occurring in your neck.
When to See a Doctor
Make sure to consult your doctor if the abovementioned treatments don’t help you after some time, but if you are experiencing a severe pain, visit your doctor immediately.
You doctor will refer you to a physiotherapist if the pain and stiffness last longer than a month. This therapist will create a therapy plan for you which is supposed to help you relieve the pain.
Some symptoms that need immediate attention are:
- A numbness or weakness is in the affected area
- You experience difficulty with swallowing or breathing
- You are unable to move your arms or hands
- You cannot bend your neck forward
- The pain continues down to your extremities
- Neck pain accompanied by a headache, fever, or swollen glands
- Pain that comes out of nowhere
- Nausea and vomiting accompany your pain
How to Prevent Neck Pain
People who suffer from neck pain and stiffness in the neck usually have poor posture which after a while will wear on your ligaments, cartilage and joints. As a result of that, it will cause frequent neck pain and stiffness. As we previously mentioned, cracking your neck is not good, so there are some other things you can do to prevent pain.
The best thing to prevent stiffness is to keep your body in alignment, in other words, you head is centered over your spine. No matter whether you are standing, sitting or lying down, you need to practice the habit of maintaining a good posture. One way to know whether you are in good posture is to check your shoulders. For instance, your ears should be lined up over your shoulders and your shoulders should be directly over your hips. When it comes to your spine, it should make a straight line from your tailbone to your neck.
There are some other things you can do which will ensure that your spine is in good alignment and here are they:
- If you are at a desk, you should make sure that your computer monitor is at eye levels and your feet are placed on the floor with your knees at a 90 degree angle. This may mean that you have to adjust the level of your chair or desk.
- Always keep your head straight when you talk on the phone. You can hold your phone to your ear or to use a headset, but never use a shoulder to hold the phone.
- Never stuff your bag full because heaviness will put an excess strain on your neck.
- In order to prevent muscle stiffness, make sure to take quick breaks and walk around throughout your day.
- Quitting smoking has been proven to aid in reduced neck pain as well.