Pain in the neck

23rd April 2021

I woke up and felt a sharp spasm of pain in my right neck and shooting down into my shoulder. It takes my breath away. I must have slept wrong. I try to sit up and end up slithering out of bed on my knees wincing as I go. I try rubbing my shoulder and neck but it hurts to move the same side arm, and the opposite arm can’t quite get to the right spot. In the shower, simple manoeuvres I take for granted suddenly seem impossible. Washing my hair isn’t even an option. Trying to dry myself afterwards isn’t much better so i decide to air-dry! Leaving the house, one side of my hair is looking like a haystack – i couldn’t quite reach it properly with the brush. I sit in the car looking at the house and then try to reverse out. I can’t look over my shoulder and realise I can only see as far as I can swivel my eyes….. After shuffling around in my seat, I’m able to drive off. But every time I turn my head I wince. The rest of the day passes agonisingly slowly. I CAN’T GET COMFORTABLE! Everything irritates my neck. Painkillers don’t seem to get rid of it completely. And I have no range of movement in my neck. Over the neck few days it slowly settles down but no amount of stretching and twisting seems to allow my neck to return to full range of movement…. A few weeks later it is back again. And then again. And again. And again.

This was me a few years back. Normally I share client’s stories. But lived experience is really important when you are doing this job. It helps you understand the desperation and frustration people have when something keeps recurring. It reminds you that people lose faith in their bodies and just learn to live with it.

My crick / wry necks stemmed from old injuries to my neck. An unhappy combination of multiple whiplashes and poor posture.

I received manual therapy. I chased massages. I took painkillers. I worked through multiple pillows. I switched sleeping positions. But nothing really “hit the spot”. The crick necks kept on coming back! In the end I tried exercise. I worked through a daily programme of stretching and mobility. I did strength training targeted at my back three times a week. I used clinical pilates to improve my neck and shoulder posture. Gradually it eased. The flare ups became less frequent. Then one day I realised I hadn’t experienced a wry neck in over 6 months… Now it’s been a good few years!

You don’t have to learn to live with these recurring episodes. It is possible to learn to trust your body again. And you don’t have to accept maintenance treatments to keep them at bay.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to chat to me about your crick neck!