Stretching can be relieving for tight muscles - Photo Seton
Cervical facet joint - Photo Wikimedia

Cervical facet joint - Photo Wikimedia

Locking in the neck. Cause, treatment and diagnosis.


Locking in the neck can occur due to several reasons. When we talk about locking in the neck, we usually talk about facet joint locking in the cervical vertebrae - in short, these are the attachment points from one vertebra to the next.

MR image of the neck - Photo Wikimedia

MR image of the neck - Photo Wikimedia

It then usually occurs due to loads that put pressure on the joint, until you reach a kind of invisible boundary line and the body reacts by tightening the involved neck muscles and restricting movement of the cervical joints.


One theory is that the joint becomes overloaded and that a locking in the facet joint occurs, with associated problems in the supporting muscles and other structures. Trigger points and muscle knots can therefore often arise as a reaction to impaired joint function and movement.


Treatment of joint locks involves relief from causal cause, rest, possible ergonomic adjustment, mobilization / manipulation (a specific joint adjustment to put the joint in place - this should normally only be performed by a manual therapist or chiropractor with a specific master's degree) and training of the muscles involved, as well as stretching can also be helpful in preventing the problem from recurring.


So, what is a joint lock?

A lock as it is called on the common man comes from the word facet joint locking. This is when we get a dysfunction in the facet joints of the vertebrae or neck vertebrae. The facet joints are the joints that connect the vertebrae. It is therefore in these joints that we can mainly get a lock or dysfunction. This in turn can cause joint pain or joint stiffness.


Did you know? - A differential diagnosis for sudden locking in the neck is acute torticollis?


Stretching can be relieving for tight muscles - Photo Seton



A lock in the neck is most often called a cervical facet joint dysfunction.



One of the most important things about pain is that you first simply and easily cut down on the activity that has caused the pain, this can be done by making ergonomic changes in the workplace or taking a break from the movements that hurt. However, it is important not to stop completely for a long time, as this hurts more than good in the long run. Map everyday life and make the necessary changes.



Go to a musculoskeletal expert and get the ailment diagnosed - it is only in this way that you know that you are taking the right steps to get well. Joint mobilization / joint manipulation may be necessary to restore full neck movement, often in combination with specific exercises aimed at the shoulder, shoulder blades and neck.


Self-treatment: What can I do even for muscle and joint pain?

1. General exercise, specific exercise, stretching and activity are recommended, but stay within the pain limit. Two walks a day of 20-40 minutes make good for the whole body and sore muscles.

2. Trigger point / massage balls we strongly recommend - they come in different sizes so you can hit well even on all parts of the body. There is no better self help than this! We recommend the following (click the image below) - which is a complete set of 5 trigger point / massage balls in different sizes:

trigger point balls

3. Training: Specific training with training tricks of various opponents (such as this complete set of 6 knits of different resistance) can help you train strength and function. Knit training often involves more specific training, which in turn can lead to more effective injury prevention and pain reduction.

4. Pain Relief - Cooling: Biofreeze is a natural product that can relieve pain by cooling the area gently. Cooling is especially recommended when the pain is very severe. When they have calmed down then heat treatment is recommended - it is therefore advisable to have both cooling and heating available.

5. Pain Relief - Heating: Warming up tight muscles can increase blood circulation and reduce pain. We recommend the following reusable hot / cold gasket (click here to read more about it) - which can be used both for cooling (can be frozen) and for heating (can be heated in the microwave).


Recommended products for pain relief for muscle and joint pain in the neck

Biofreeze spray-118Ml-300x300

Biofreeze (Cold / cryotherapy)

purchase now


What are the patient's symptoms?

Feeling stiff in the neck and that they have limited movement. Often the patient will report that they have pain at a specific point in the neck, they will then like to point directly to the joints in the neck, and report that these feel locked or stiff - the words 'locking in the neck' are often used.


Treatment modalities: Evidence / studies.

Chiropractic treatment, consisting of neck mobilization / manipulation and specific home exercises, has a clinically proven effect on the relief of neck pain. A recent study published in the renowned journal Annals of Internal Medicine (Bronfort et al, 2012) showed that this form of treatment had a better documented effect compared to medical treatment in the form of NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


Also read:

- Pain in the neck



  • Chin-up / pull-up exercise bar can be an excellent exercise tool to have at home. It can be attached and detached from the door frame without the use of a drill or tool.
  • Cross-trainer / ellipse machine: Excellent fitness training. Good for promoting movement in the body and exercising overall.
  • Rubber exercise knit is an excellent tool for you who need to strengthen the shoulder, arm, core and more. Gentle but effective training.
  • Kettlebells is a very effective form of training that produces fast and good results.
  • Rowing Machines is one of the best forms of training you can use to get good overall strength.
  • Spinning ergometer bike: Good to have at home, so you can increase the amount of exercise throughout the year and get better fitness.


Also read:
- Cochrane: Overview study of the evidence for neck training (what exercises should you do to prevent and treat neck problems?)



  2. Bronfort et al (2012)


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