Learn How to Treat Neck Spasms

March 24, 2018
Neck spasms can likely become very painful when not treated on time. They can occur for many reasons, such as having a bad posture for long periods of time, stress, muscle weakness and other causes. Learn how to prevent this condition in this article

The muscles run from the head and cervical spine to the clavicle, thorax and other areas, forming a total of 20 muscle pairs that allow for movement. When a neck spasm occurs, the blood vessels that carry blood to muscles constrict and, as a result, the strain worsens.


For the most part, the muscles that suffer most are the trapezius and rhomboids. People suffering from neck spasms often experience pain and difficulty when turning their neck to one side.

This condition is actually quite common. In some cases, there might also be head, shoulder and even arm pain as well.

However, neck spasms aren’t considered to be an illnessInstead, they’re symptoms showing that something isn’t right.

Neck spasm symptoms

neck spasms

Identifying a neck spasm isn’t that difficult because there’s ongoing pain in the area. In some cases, there’s a prolonged pain, and in others, it appears spontaneously.

Here are the main symptoms:

  • Inflammation
  • Sharp, throbbing pain
  • Tingling sensation
  • The area is warm to the touch
  • Muscle pain
  • Turning the body is necessary to move the neck

Most of the time, neck spasms don’t lead to serious problems. However, we should treat the strain in time in order to prevent even more painful side effects.

Also read: 8 Tips for Better Posture


There are many possible causes of neck spasms. Some include:

  • Overworking
  • Repetitive use of muscles
  • Forced postures that require the neck muscles for long periods of time
  • Exposure to stressful situations
  • Muscle weakness

How can you treat neck spasms?

How can you treat neck spasms?

Generally speaking, treatments for neck spasms include oral anti-inflammatory drugs and the use of ice or cold packs on the affected area for short periods of time. The treatments aim to reduce swelling and pain. More serious cases require physical rehabilitation with a physical therapist.

If none of the treatments mentioned above are successful, the next step might be cortisone injections into the strained area. Surgery is only a valid option for chronic cases.

Otherwise, if the pain isn’t serious, you can try to follow the warm-up exercises below that’ll help you relax your muscles. However, remember that it’s only a suggestion and it’s always better to ask a doctor before trying them.

  • Stop any kind of physical activity for 3 days.
  • Gently massage the area to warm it up and help blood flow.
  • Follow a diet that’s rich in nutrients in order to speed up healing.

Try the following self-massages and stretches that you can do at home without having to worry about making the pain worse. Before starting anything, keep your breathing and posture steady. You might feel some pain, but it should never be intenseIn the case that it is, stop the exercise immediately.

Visit this article: 5 Natural Remedies for Neck Pain

Using a rod

Further below, you’ll find a couple massaging exercises that you can use to counteract the symptoms of your neck spasm. However, they only have a momentary effect.

From the left to right

  • The first thing you need to do is breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Stand up and straighten out your back.
  • Next, take a rod and place it right behind the back of your neck, keep it gently in place with the palms of your hands.
  • Now, gently roll the rod.
  • After, start to move it around your neck and sides.
  • You can also lean your head forwards and to the sides.
  • Continue exercises for 5 minutes.

Slide and spin

  • Stay in the same position of the prior exercises, but now slide the rod downwards, pressing it all over your neck.
  • As you slide the rod, spin it in order to relax your muscles.
  • Afterwards, do the same thing with your sides.
  • Continue for 5 minutes.

How can you prevent neck spasms?

How can you prevent neck spasms?
  • Avoid postures that force your neck to bend.
  • Switch up your position frequently.
  • Get more physical activity.
  • Don’t make sudden movements.
  • Remember to do warm-up exercises before any kind of physical activity.
  • Stretch your back and neck every two hours.
  • Sleep in the right position.
  • Check to see if you mattress is in good condition and if your pillow keeps your neck straight.
  • You can try special activities such as yoga or pilates.
  • Put relaxation exercises into practice.

Fortunately, you can find a solution for neck spasms with physical therapy in a matter of 2 or 3 sessions.

  • Haik, J., Prat, D., Kornhaber, R., & Tessone, A. (2016). Treatment of cervical contractures utilising a closed platysmotomy like approach: Case report and review of the literature. Burns. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.burns.2016.03.026
  • Binder AI. Neck pain. BMJ Clin Evid. 2008;2008:1103. Published 2008 Aug 4.
  • Cohen, S. P. (2015). Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of neck pain. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.09.008